The Vizard Mask (1994): Diana Norman

★★★★½

Occasionally, entirely by chance, you come across a book so delicious, so full of serendipity, that you can hardly believe your luck. I bought The Vizard Mask entirely on the title and the précis – I haven’t read any of Diana Norman’s other books, nor her popular Mistress of the Art of Death series written under her pseudonym Ariana Franklin. It turned out to be a rare gem: a sprawling, meaty, bawdy slice of Restoration drama underpinned by one of the most wonderful romantic pairings I’ve come across in fiction. The overall flavour made me think of Forever Amber crossed with Stage Beauty, finished off with liberal dashes of Much Ado About Nothing (rather appropriately).

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