Cover Image: The Last Tiara

The Last Tiara

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Member Reviews

This was a 3 star read for me. It is good, but nothing that wow me. 
Yes it has love, romance, history but in some parts it went to long. Just a good story.
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3.5 stars

I received a complimentary Kindle copy of this book from Blue Box Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to M.J. Rose, Blue Box Press, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

This is my second book by M.J. Rose and also about jewelry, specifically a tiara, as one of the main characters in the book. Unfortunately, I wish that the tiara's journey was more fully developed. I wanted more detail about where it had been, how it had been found, etc.  It felt like the last twenty or so pages were a little rushed to wrap up what had occurred to the tiara.

The characters were somewhat more fleshed out than the tiara, but I wanted more character development and fewer descriptions of the bed linens, clothing being worn, and other heavily detailed parts of the book. The storyline was very interesting and would have been even better with some editing of the descriptions of things and the addition of details on the characters. 

I liked the book, but didn't love it. I wanted more and the author just didn't give it to me.

LUKEWARM recommend
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I loved this book from start to finish!
Sofiya Petrovitch is a 19 year old living in Russia at the start of the revolution. Her best friend Olga, the grand duchess, and her both get jobs as nurses to help in the war relief caring for soldiers. While there she meets a soldier who was injured and has no memory of his life prior to being in the hospital. As she helps him to find answers about himself, they both find they can't deny their feelings for each other. But as the revolution continues they are separated, the only connection being a tiara that Olga gave her.
Now many years later, Sophia's daughter Isabelle finds the Tiara after the loss of her mother and wants to try to uncover the mystery of her past that she never shared. 
Both women are connected to this tiara and are lead into paths they might not have taken because of it.
The novel moved at a good pace and had a lot of history, as well as solid characters. I liked the alternating chapters as I felt it kept me following them both as they were dealing with similar things at different times. 
Thank you Netgalley and Blue Box Press for an Advanced copy for an honest review!
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This was a sweeping story about love, history, and secrets... I enjoyed it very much. It makes me want to revisit the Romanov history and I could help look up some of the jewelry mentioned in regards to Fabergé and thought the scene with the archivist in D.C. was a great touch. A wonderful read, and I highly recommend.
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The Last Tiara, by M. J. Rose

The Last Tiara is a well-crafted novel.  It features two likable heroines, and alternates between St. Petersburg in 1915 and New York City in 1948.  Nineteen year old Sofiya, the daughter of an art tutor for the children of the Russian royal family, has become the friend of the duchesses and shares much of her time with them.  It is a turbulent time in Russia as the empire is failing due to social and political unrest.  In post-World War II New York City, Isobelle is a young female architect, unusual for that time period.  She works in a large firm and struggles against the “glass ceiling” of a lower salary and less recognition than the men in this male-dominated field.
The worlds of art and architecture are not that far apart and, as the story unfolds, there are fascinating glimpses into these worlds, as well as the worlds of art restoration, jewelry design and art imposters. 
The book is clearly well-researched. There are liberal doses of historical references, like the disappearance of the Romanov family, the use of the Winter Palace as soldiers’ hospital, the Faberge jewelry firm, Tiffany and Company in New York City, and the Manhattan Project (development of the first nuclear bomb).  I very much liked learning about these pieces of history as well as all the details about art and jewelry.  I am also a fan of the writing construct that alternates between two separate stories in different times, as it keeps my attention and causes me to look for communality and intersections of the two stories.
M. J. Rose very skillfully accomplishes those things.  There is plenty of intrigue and suspense in the stories, and the main characters are well-drawn.  The romances are believable, and there is camaraderie and clever repartee that evolves in the couples.
I had never read any novels by M. J. Rose, and this book has definitely inspired me to seek out more of her works.
Thank you to Blue Box Press and NetGalley for this digital ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
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I enjoyed this book although I thought it went a little long at times.  The premise of a daughter trying to find out about her mother's past and the tiara's history was very interesting.  You pretty much knew where the book was going but weren't exactly sure how it was going to get there.  Writing was good and easy to follow.
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This book was magnificent. The story narrates two different timelines. On the one hand, in Russia and the other in the United States. Sophia Moon has always been a prudent person. She does not like to talk about her past life in Russia. One day Sophia suffers a terrible accident in which she, unfortunately, loses her life. Isobelle, Sophia's daughter, devastated by this situation, takes on the task of renovating her mother's apartment. The days are long and gloomy for Isobelle. Suddenly, she finds a beautiful tiara with splendid jewels. Isobelle admits that she doesn't know much about her mother, but this discovery raises curiosity. She intends to find the origin of this tiara. I loved all the research Isobelle is starting to do. The narration of this book occurs in two different timelines, in which the author reveals Sophia's perspective. I loved the mention of the Romanov family, especially the first-born daughter, Olga. It's from the stories that I took my time to read because there were so many details. As I already mentioned, the Romanov family is one of them, as well as the difficult situation in Russia. Sophia is an intelligent woman, courageous, and committed to her values. For this, she is my favorite character. It has been an incredible experience reading this book. I thank NetGalley, Blue Box Press, and AuthorBuzz for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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A tiara belonging to the tsar's family last seen in 1922 surfaces is New York City in 1948. How it got there is told by a mother (who fled Russia and never spoke of it again) and her daughter, who find the tiara after her mother's death. An excellent read. Thanks to the publisher and Net Gallery for this early read.
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A Good Friend is More Precious than Diamonds
The Last Tiara is a special book: a historical mystery, a romantic epic, a tale of friendship and family bonds, and an exceptionally enthralling page-turner. The tiara in the book is based on a real tiara that is missing from the collection of Romanov crown jewels, as catalogued in 1925, and compared against an inventory from 1922. The real life lack of answers provides the perfect opportunity for M. J. Rose to step into the gap, crafting a stunning (although fictional) theory to explain the missing tiara. In the book, the tiara is considered to be the last one made by the House of Faberge for the Romanov family, prior to the Russian Revolution. It was commissioned by the tsar as a birthday present for his eldest daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga. Before going into exile, and later being murdered along with her family, Olga gifts the tiara to her only real friend: Sofiya Petrovich, the daughter of her art tutor. Sofiya carries the tiara with her to America, where she sells the stones to a New York jeweler, and then hides the metal skeleton in the wall of her bedroom, where it is later discovered by her daughter Isobelle, igniting the search for the truth behind the tiara, that forms the backbone of the plot.

The book is beautifully written, with rich depictions of the products made by the House of Feberge where Sofiya's lover works, standing in stark contrast with gritty discussions of the wounds endured by the WWI era soldiers that Olga and Sofiya work to nurse back to health, and conditions in Russia during the Revolution and in the gulags of Siberia. Post-WWII Manhattan, and Isobelle's struggle as a woman to gain equality in the male-driven field of architecture is similarly well detailed, from her traumatizing work at Oak Ridge, to her desire to make over the apartment she had grown up in with her mother to reflect her more modern aesthetic...leading to the discovery of the tiara. Every character in The Last Tiara is nuanced and realistic, provoking appropriate sympathy or disdain as the story moves along on a logical, if sometimes surprising trajectory.

I loved the way that M. J. Rose wove historical fact into the story, from the real work of the Grand Duchess Olga and her sister Tatiana in the hospital ward of the Winter Palace during WWI, to the arrest policies of the Bolsheviks, to the looting, cataloguing, and sale of the Russian crown jewels for money to subsidize the floundering government of the newly formed Soviet Union. Her adherence to a factual backdrop lends The Last Tiara the type of weight and consideration that is often lacking in less well-researched historical fiction. The fact that the tragedy of Isobelle's parents' love story was one so commonly experienced by couples and families as Revolutionary fever ripped through Russia, makes it all the more poignant.  We find in Isobelle a young woman who has been raised to trust no one outside of her own family, due to her mother's traumatic experiences in Russia, but also one who yearns to know the type of love her mother had for her father, and who desires to know the real reasons behind her mother's flight to the United States. Her investigation into the mysterious tiara skeleton will lead her to a love of her own, the answers she has always sought about her mother's past, and to something far more special and valuable than the jewels missing from the tiara. History buffs, mystery enthusiasts, and romance fanatics will all find something to love about this book, I truly cannot recommend it enough!
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When Isobelle Moon discovers a tiara hidden away in her deceased mother's bedroom, she finds a clue to her mother's past. Sophia Moon (formerly Sofiya Petrovich) fled Russia after its revolution left the country torn apart. She spoke little about her past, finding it all too painful to revisit. Isobelle still aches to know about her mother's past and tries to learn something about her mother's life in Russia by learning about the tiara. Learning about the tiara, leads Isobelle to jeweler Jules Reed, an elegant man Isobelle finds herself attracted to though she is certain he has no interest in her.

This novel is told in two perspectives. Interspersed with Isobelle's journey in 1948 to learn about her mother's past, is Sofiya's own story. Sofiya's story begins in 1915 and stretches through the years of the revolution. We see Sofiya become a nurse, fall in love, and learn how she ended up in New York City, alone with her daughter, the man she loved left behind. The two narratives play off each other, leaving the reader knowing some of the answers Isobelle is searching for before she finds them.

I was drawn in by the exciting premise of this book and my own fascination with that period of Russian history but the novel itself didn't quite turn out how I hoped. There is a lot of explanation in this novel. Isobelle spends the first few pages of the novel explaining her life. While the information is important, the way it was delivered was not particularly exciting or engaging. This is a common refrain throughout the book, especially from Isobelle's perspective. (Not to mention some of the little details that were unnecessarily mentioned, such as what they ordered for lunch.) At times, I was also a bit confused by the timeline of the book. One example of this: it was never entirely clear to me when Isobelle was born and whether she was born in Russia or the U.S.

As an architect in the 1940s, Isobelle has to navigate a difficult world. One of the ways she does this is by downplaying her femininity. Partly, this is to blend in better with her male colleagues and, partly, it is simply how she prefers to dress and behave. I liked this aspect of Isobelle, as I always like women who push against societal expectations. However, Isobelle was a hard to like character for me. Despite the courage, persistence, and ambition it took for her to be an architect in this time period, she is a very insecure character. It takes so little to deflate her and while being ambitious and persistent are not mutually exclusive from insecurity, it seems to me she would have needed a sturdier backbone to make it as far as she has in her career. Isobelle is also convinced, to a fault, that men are not interested her. After one bad experience with a man who used her, Isobelle is now certain that no man could want her for who she is. I can understand how this feeling may develop in her character, in her circumstances, but she is so convinced and this refrain is repeated so often in the story that it is grating. Even when it is clearly in front of her face, she refuses to see or even imagine that a man could want her. Her lack of self-confidence and value is depressing. Isobelle does also seem to struggle with reading people and understanding their emotions but this is something more inferred than outwardly stated. If this aspect of her character was built out more than her inability to know if a man is interested could have been balanced by this part of her personality making her complete lack of self-confidence less grating.

I found Sofiya to be a more engaging character, though, still very surface level as Isobelle's character is. Sofiya is young, only nineteen, and I think it's easier to forgive younger characters for not having as much depth or for focusing almost entirely on one aspect of their life, because there is so much still left for a young character to learn. Sofiya is naive and has been raised in privilege. She has grown up friends with the Grand Duchesses through her mother, who teaches art. As her story opens, Russia is already upended by war and she and the two eldest Grand Duchesses have become nurses. This leads Sofiya on her journey to love and eventually to a life as a single mother in New York City.

There is an interesting mystery underlying this story. There is much to learn about the tiara and how it ended up hidden away in New York with no one but Sophia (she changed the spelling of her name once she reached America) the wiser. Isobelle and Jules make their way down the trail of the tiara's history as best they can. In the end, all questions are answered. The ending felt rushed and a little too neat to me but all of the questions were answered which is the most important piece of a mystery.

In the end, while this wasn't my favorite novel, I did feel compelled to finish it. I was especially interested in Sofiya's storyline and had the book been written entirely from her perspective, I would have found it more engrossing. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the relationship between Isobelle and Jules and did want to know how they discover all of the tiara's secrets.

I would recommend this book for those who prefer light reads, where most of the action is centered around a mystery. Despite my criticisms, I do think this is a book that many readers would enjoy as a fun historical mystery.
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I got totally hooked by "The last Tiara " and I'm buying other books from M.J Rose for me and as gifts. I rarely get that enthusiast, but all the cleverness of the plot and the rythme of the story are truly riverting. Two periods are described with great realism, 1948 New York and Saint Pertsburg before and after the Revolution. The characters are so real with dialogues you hear as you listen, that I wish there could be a tome 2. The bonus is all the elements usually provided in time travel books. The fascinating world of jewerlers is unveiled as the crafted descriptions of bye gone eras provide the whole picture. This "tour de force" deserves only one comment "Bravo, bravo !". 
All opnions are mine, I received a copy from netGalley.
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Was a great read, I had a hard time at first trying to get it to the story with the two different points of view.
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I found this book as intriguing and mysterious as Cartier’s Way, and enjoy the unraveling of the mystery surrounding the tiara. I did figure out who the man was who was following Isobella before it was reveal d but I was happier to find out who the Russian on the phone was at the end. I love that M.J. Rose, gives the women in her plot careers that were hard to come by in the periods that they live in, but it sure makes me happy to see that the are so independent.  One thing I wish is that Isobella could have done was to tell one of the characters she works with to buzz of.
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This book takes place in two time periods, during the Romanov period in Russia, and post World War II, Sophia Moon was given a tiara by the tsar’s daughter when she knew they were going to have to go into exile. The first part of the book tells of Sophia’s experiences in Russia with the tsar’s daughters, volunteering at a hospital, and meeting a amnesia patient that she falls in love with.  He is arrested and sent to prison. Sophia has become pregnant with his child and is helped by her father to escape to America..

The second part is about Sophia’s daughter Isobelle who is now living alone in NYC after her mother passes away. Her mother, however seems to have left many secrets behind as she never spoke to her daughter about her past life or about Isobelle’s father. Isobelle stumbles upon the tiara and realizes her mother had secrets. She sets about to discover where this tiara she found came from as well as her own background. Both are very much tied together. 

I was not in awe of the book. I felt there was an awful lot of description that was not all that necessary. I also felt there to be an extraordinary obsession on Isobelle’s part with her mother. Perhaps this is normal when you do not know your history, but I felt it was a little much. The book was entertaining but I can’t say I couldn’t put it down. I thank Netgalley  for the opportunity to read this pre-release.
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I really enjoyed this novel. I loved reading her story and her mother’s story simultaneously. It was written well and was very interesting. The mystery was intriguing and drew you in.
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THE LAST TIARA
BY M.J. ROSE

This historical fiction story read more like a romance novel which disappointed me to a large extent. It alternates chapters between Isobelle Moon in New York City and Sofiya in Russia. Sofiya is Isobelle's mother who met her father while working as a volunteer nurse in the Winter Palace of the Tsar Nicholas Romanov whose daughter Olga worked there also. Sofiya and Olga are close friend's and Olga gives Sofiya a tiara of diamonds and saphires which originally was gifted to the Duchess Olga by her father. She wants to make sure that her dear friend has something she can sell because they both know the revolution is happening and Russia is not safe. The Tsar Nicholas Romanov has abdicated the throne. Sofiya has met a wounded soldier who had two toes amputated from frostbite while he is recuperating in the palace makeshift hospital. She reads to him and he falls in love with her also and he is slowly recovering his memory. She takes him to the House of Faberge and he is recognized by some of the worker's. He also discovers he is married. He doesn't have any feelings for his wife and Sofiya and him have a short lived romance before she emigrates to America.

Isobelle is Sofiya's daughter who is one of the few women architect's in NYC. She worked on the Manhattan project formerly but she didn't know that until after the bombs were dropped on "Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She is a junior architect in the firm she works at. She decides to remodel her mother's apartment after she dies and she finds the tiara inside a leather box in the wall. It is missing the gems stones and there is also an envelope with the name of the shop where Sofiya sold them to buy their apartment. Isobelle visits the shop and meets the grandson of the man who gave Sofiya the money for the diamonds and sapphires. And from there the narrative turns into the mystery of the tiara.

I liked Sofiya's chapters better than her daughter Isobelle. I found this to be heavily themed about romance which I wasn't expecting. Isobelle's search for the provenance of the tiara just wasn't that compelling to me. This is the first M.J. Rose historical novel that I have read. I would read this author's other work. I liked this but I didn't love it. This may appeal more to women's romance genre fans. It was a fascinating premise so I am sure it is me that had higher expectations and I found myself bored at times. It could be the timing and the pandemic that distracted me from caring about the mystery about the tiara. I definitely didn't like the ending which is also why I rated this three stars.

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Thank you to Net Galley, M.J. Rose and Blue Box Press for providing me with my ARC in exchange fir a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#TheLastTiara #MJRose #BlueBoxPress #NetGalley
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You can find this review and all of my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com

Actual rating of 4.5

Sophia Moon has always kept her life in Russia to herself, no matter how much her daughter Isobelle asked her about it. She didn't want to remember, she wanted to embrace her American life, and her American name, and felt that there was no point in looking back on the past, only forward. Until, one wintery evening, she dies unexpectedly, Isobelle is distraught that all her secrets died with her. Especially once Isobelle uncovers a secret hiding spot in her mother's bedroom wall, in which she finds a box that holds the skeleton of what was sure to be a one beautiful tiara. With only the receipts for the sales of the precious gems that the skeleton once held, Isobelle feels compelled to follow the barely there trail in order to uncover not only the story of the tiara, but her mother's story as well. Many twists and turns await her, and who knows what she will uncover.

I'm not much for historical fiction, I've read it on a few different occasions but just felt like it wasn't really for me. Most of the time the pacing fell short for me and I had trouble really enjoying what I was reading, so I have NO idea really what possessed me to request an ARC of this book, but man am I glad that I did. I never thought that I'd be rating a historical fiction novel this highly, ever.

The story is told through alternating points of view for each chapter between Isobelle in 1948 and her mother Sofiya Petrovitch beginning in 1915 moving through to around 1922. The story opens when Isobelle's mother has already been gone around a year, she still lives in the apartment they shared, above the workshop that Sophia and Lana shared in their restoration business. Isobelle is a guarded woman, she's been hurt before and struggles to trust many people. She's also battling against the odds of the era and forging a career as one of few female architects in New York City. Her mother would never answer any of her questions about Russia and her mother's life before moving to America to start anew, and while it irks Isobelle that she doesn't really know anything, it doesn't really effect her until she finds the hidden tiara skeleton and is left with even more questions than she had before. The tiara takes her on a journey, not only to solve the mystery of the tiara itself and how it came to be in her mother's possession and who her mother had been in her younger years, but also one of self discovery and learning to trust even when you think you shouldn't. I felt like this story turned into a dual historical romance about two loves told in alternating time lines that really tugged on the heart strings. One fraught with heartache and the other full of hopefulness of what might be.

Sofiya/Sophia was such a secretive character. Not wanting the past to make it's way into her present and future, she denied her daughter the chance to learn of her heritage, which I found quite sad. In a time when some weren't proud of where they'd come from and what fires had forged them, it makes me think how awful it would have been, not wanting to be yourself or being too afraid of your own past so you ignore it completely even though it helped turn you into the person you became. Learning about Sofiya in her story was bittersweet as you have an idea on certain things that will happen as it's in the past, but it also showed how much of a caring and strong woman she had been. I found the supporting characters good, especially Arthur as he was the one who got the most screen time in Isobelle's story, and of course Carpathian in Sofiya's story as well. This story isn't so much character driven though, it's very plot driven which I actually enjoyed. The characters probably could have been fleshed out more, but I feel like I really got the feel of who they were meant to be which I enjoyed.

As said above, I would put this more in the historical romance genre, but it's heavy on the mystery as well. The mystery and the romance really are the driving points for this novel and it worked so well. The pacing was absolutely fantastic and not at any point did I feel bored or as though the story itself was dragging, which tends to happen with historical fiction for me 90% of the time. The mystery behind Sofiya herself was intriguing and it was fantastic learning about her life before Isobelle, and the mystery of the tiara and then the mystery of the strange man that Isobelle keeps seeing every where. Ugh, so much mystery, and I was here for it. I must admit, the twist that was there I didn't see coming, I felt like the paranoia of one of the characters was just in overdrive so when the reveal happened I realised just before it was said what was actually going on and it was brilliant! There's also another mystery surrounding the tiara which we aren't aware of until close to the end, and I felt that it was an absolutely fantastic addition, but the reason for me not giving a full five stars to this novel lies here, the ending felt so rushed. The reveal of this secondary tiara mystery and the resolve of it all and the revelation it all happened in like the last 10% of the book. I felt like there was such a big build up happening through the novel and then it was all over so quickly. Also the addition of the very opening of the story and the very beginning, I'm not sure what these two chapters were meant to lend to the story but feel like they could have been done without. For me it didn't feel as though it offered really any extra closure, and I would have much preferred to see a little bit about what happened with Isobelle after everything was said and done.

Overall, this was an absolutely delightful story that really shows the tenacity of women in the early to mid 1900s and how hard they had to push to be seen as even close to equal that of a man. I love the inclusion of the Romanovs, even though it was more of a plot thickener, it was one of the things that drew me into requesting the novel in the first place. If you like historical fiction with a hint of romance and whirlwind of a mystery, definitely get onto this one. I can't believe how much I enjoyed it.
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I devoured The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose. This was the first novel that I’ve read by Rose and I’m definitely adding her other novels to my to-read list! Fans of historical fiction, romance, and mystery will enjoy this adventure which spans decades and crosses continents.

The story unfolds in New York City just after World War II and follows Isobelle as she navigates life after her mother’s (Sophia) death. As Isobelle renovates her mother’s apartment, she uncovers a link to her mother’s mysterious past in Russia. The engaging story is alternates from Sophia’s life in Russia during the first World War and Isobelle’s life in America during and after World War II. The are some parallel struggles and successes in the lives of this mother and daughter pair.  I really enjoyed the storytelling in this novel, the well researched details completely immersed me in the story.

I had an opportunity to read and review The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose through NetGalley.
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The Last Tiara is a work of historical fiction set in 1948 New York City with flash backs to St. Petersburg in the years prior to the fall of the Romanov Empire.  This book has a bit of history,suspense, mystery and romance.  Sure to please readers of all genres.
Isobelle Moon is redoing her dead mother’s bedroom when she removes a section of wallpaper and discovers a hidden niche containing a tiara.  She knows little of her mother’s previous life not even her family name.
Sophia left Russia with a broken heart and has not shared those memories with her daughter.
With the help of a handsome jeweler, Isobelle peels back the layers of time to reveal Sophia’s story and that of the mysterious tiara.
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This book has mystery, intrigue, and romance all rolled into one. It is well written and keeps you guessing throughout, even after you think you have it all figured out. The main character, Isabelle, is a female architect in a male dominated career who has come home after her mother died. She discovers that there is a lot her mother has kept hidden from her. I liked this book- it is well written and has a few unexpected twists including a slight foray into the supernatural.

#amazon #thelasttiara #blueboxpress
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