REVIEW: Masquerade with Music (Warrender Saga Book 12) by Mary Burchell
The great conductor Oscar Warrender had no idea that his efficient new secretary Kate Grayson was in fact his niece, who really wanted to be a singer but didn’t want to take advantage of her famous relative.
The celebrated singer Carlo Ertlinger took her under his wing instead—but will his guidance wreck her private life in the process?
By this point with the twelfth book in the Warrander Saga I expect to see singers, music and, to some extent obviously, the Warrenders – Sir Oscar and his soprano wife Anthea. With a few of the books, they would quickly slip in and out of the story. Here they are fairly front and center for most of the book because Sir Oscar is an Uncle. We also see how their marriage is working and how at least one person feels that Oscar is a better man and conductor for having the good sense to woo and marry Anthea.
Not that Oscar is thrilled about his in-laws as he’s always felt that a scheming and impecunious widow lured his elder brother into marriage. Actually she did but it turned into a love match and a marriage which gave her daughter Olga the first stability and security of her young life. That is only one reason that Kate Grayson doesn’t reveal her true identity when taking over the job of personal secretary to Sir Oscar. The other is that she has some singing ambitions as well but doesn’t want to trade on the connection or her Uncle’s (Step-Uncle?) name to get her foot in the operatic door.
Things get even more complicated when a young man arrives to persuade the Great Man to be included in a book on famous conductors. Evander Merton quickly realizes that “Kate Grayson” isn’t all she claims to be but finds himself amused and admiring when she faces him down about the secret she’s keeping – or thought she was keeping – from the Warrenders. Yet Van also has a connection with Kate through Kate’s “gossip book writing” mother who inadvertently involved Van’s sister in a scandal which lead to a libel suit.
Kate feels a spark with Van but whether it’s attraction or anger depends on the day. The two have a habit of hauling off in a snit yet amazingly they end up talking and working things out – most of the time. But when a charming baritone comes into Kate’s life and Kate’s mother unexpectedly arrives from New Zealand, it will take all Sir Oscar’s wily maneuvering and Anthea’s legendary tact to set things right.
The book could have taken any number of directions but didn’t. Kate could have been scheming but wasn’t. Van could have loathed Kate over what her mother did but he didn’t. Sir Oscar and Anthea might have felt used by Kate trying to foster her musical ambitions but neither did. Carlo Ertlinger could have been smarmy but wasn’t. Instead, Sir Oscar exerts himself to help Kate – though with his usual brutal honesty – and then smooth things over between all parties including his until-now unwanted sister-in-law. I was so charmed by how the book avoided all the pitfalls I was expecting that I could accept the circumstances that Burchell cleverly arranged to keep Kate and Van at odds until late in the game. This one ended up a winner for me. B+