This was a thoroughly delightful adventure that I couldn't put down.
Harcourt deVaux, Viscount Tunsbury has been best friends with Philip Tremaine, Viscount Rycote since they were children. Harry spent all of his school vacations with Philip's family since his own was incredibly dysfunctional. He loves Philip's sister, Lady Elinor but doesn't want the taint of his family's reputation damaging her. Harry leaves for a four year grand tour and when he returns, the Marchioness of Penworth (Philip and Elinor's mother) insists that Harry stay with them instead of a hotel. The Marquess is heavily involved in politics and the Marchioness sees it is upsetting him and insists they go on a tour of Europe. They start in Paris and end up in Rome and the Italian countryside looking for Etruscan tombs.
This novel was fresh. The hero wasn't a Duke and Elinor's father wasn't one either. It wasn't set among the drawing rooms, ball rooms or races during the Season. I found that the extended family trip to Italy was a wonderful backdrop. The author even threw in some stereotypical Italian characters for comic relief. It is quite obvious that Ms. Marek did research on the Victorian dress, the political situation in Italy (specifically Rome) and the Etruscan tombs. Every book needs a villain or character the reader hates and this book had three!
If I had a real book shelf, this novel would go on the top shelf where I could pull it out and re-read it again and again. I can not wait to see what is next!