Cover image for Meet me in Venice
Meet me in Venice
Adler, Elizabeth (Elizabeth A.)
1st St. Martin's Griffin ed.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2007.
Physical Description:
389 pages ; 21 cm
Enjoying her courtship with Bennett James, a businessman with ties to Shanghai, antiques dealer Precious Rafferty is stunned by a message from Lily Song, a cousin she has never met, who has a secret that she wishes to reveal during a face-to-face meeting in Venice.

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Precious Rafferty is an American antiques dealer living in Paris. Though Precious--known as Preshy--lives in the world's most romantic city, she keeps her feet firmly on the ground. No man will ever sweep her off her feet. Until she meets Bennett James. He's perfect in every way. Is he too good to be true? Granted, she doesn't know much about his business or personal life in Shanghai, but isn't it time to stop being so jaded about romance? And then her long-lost cousin Lily Song sendsher an urgent message about Preshy's new love. "Meet me in Venice" are Lily's cryptic words.
Lily lives in Shanghai and knows the antiques underworld there--and she has a secret important enough to draw her to Venice to meet Preshy for the first time, face-to-face. Ruggedly handsome, world-weary writer Sam Knight senses there's a story afoot. Precious senses he's getting closer and closer to her and enmeshed in this tangled web of danger and desire. But is Sam also not all he seems to be? Does he have a terrible secret he's keeping from Preshy? In Venice, Precious will have to weavethrough a maze of betrayers and seducers to discover who she can trust with her heart...and with her life.
Page-turning, lushly descriptive, and intelligent, Meet Me in Venice is a cat-and-mouse game with plenty of twists and wonderful characters you'll never forget. It is Elizabeth Adler at her storytelling best.

Author Notes

Writer Elizabeth Adler grew up in Yorkshire in the north of England. She has written over twenty novels including Fortune Is a Woman; The Last Time I Saw Paris; Summer in Tuscany; Invitation to Provence; Meet Me in Venice; and There's Something About St. Tropez. In her books, she describes in great detail the clothing and perfume her characters wear to the scented candles, sofas, pillows, beds and rugs that they have because she believes it tells you more about who they are. She believes that it's the small details that make her stories come to life. She also includes many of her own recipes in her books.

(Bowker Author Biography) Elizabeth Adler is the internationally best-selling author of twelve previous novels. She lives in Southern California.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

"With plots lighter than air and settings that include some of the world's most exotic cities, Adler's romantic suspense novels aim to please. And please this one does as Parisian antiques dealer Precious Rafferty grapples with stolen artifacts and a turbulent romantic life. When handsome Bennett James, a seemingly wealthy Shanghai businessman, sweeps her off her feet, Precious plans a lavish wedding in Venice. Her fabulously wealthy aunts fly in for the ceremony, but when Bennett learns the aunts intend to leave their fortunes to charity, he stands Precious up at the altar. A devastated Precious spends the next 30 days wallowing in self-pity before she is drawn into the life of her cousin, who is in possession of a valuable family heirloom that once belonged to a Chinese empress. A gruff American mystery novelist helps Precious both to mend her broken heart and to track down her cousin, whose life is in danger. Adler packs her brief chapters full of tantalizing descriptions of the luxurious lifestyle of the jet set, providing her many fans with plenty of vicarious thrills. Joanne Wilkinson"--"Wilkinson, Joanne" Copyright 2007 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this globe-spanning, intrigue-filled thriller from veteran bestseller Adler (Hotel Riviera), an American antiques dealer working in Paris, 38-year-old Precious "Preshy" Rafferty, is drawn into a scheme that also ensnares a cousin she's never met in person, Shanghai antique dealer Lily Song. Lily owns a fabulous, superexpensive necklace that Lily's business associate, Mary-Lou Chen, is out to steal. It's the job of Mary-Lou's paramour, American businessman Bennett Yuan, to find a buyer. As the suspense builds, Lily and Preshy must travel to Venice to meet and, among other things, protect the fortune Preshy is due to inherit from her Aunt Grizelda. Adler remains as adept as ever at making her various locales come to life and doesn't disappoint in keeping the mystery surrounding the necklace, and the two cousins, swirling. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Shanghai Six Months Later Lily Song was eating breakfast at the Happybird Tea House, an open-fronted place in an alley off the Renmin Road, named for the tiny birds, the pets of the customers that accompanied them in their little bamboo cages, singing their morning songs. She ate there every morning at exactly the same time--eight o'clock--and she always had exactly the same thing: shrimp dim sum with vegetables and green tea with semolina grains that swelled up like miniature cannonballs in the hot tea and tasted like slippery bird shot. Her fellow breakfasters were all men but that did not bother her and anyway they were all too immersed in their newspapers and noodles to notice her, even though she was an attractive woman. She was small and very slender, with a shoulder-length swing of glossy black hair and eyes so dark a brown they looked almost black too. She had the fair skin of her European mother and the delicate bridgeless nose of her Chinese father, and she wore either conservative Western clothes bought at the better boutiques on the Nanking Road, or the traditional brocade dress, the quipao in jewel tones, tailored specifically to her directions by an expert in his tiny storefront shop near the Bubbling Well Road. Either way, though she was not beautiful, she gave the impression of an attractive, successful woman. Which, in a sense, she was. This morning, however, she was wearing narrow black pants with a black linen top. Her hair was pulled back and large sunglasses hid her eyes. She could have passed unnoticed in any Shanghai crowd. She glanced up as a man entered, then stood looking around him. He was a foreigner, older, smart in a lightweight beige business suit and he carried a leather document case. Lily lifted her hand, beckoning him over. He came and sat in the chair opposite. With a gruff "good morning" he placed the document case on the table in front of him. A soft-footed server hovered nearby and Lily ordered plain green tea for her guest. She asked if he would like to eat and with a faint look of disgust he said he would not. He was Swiss and conservative and he did not like Chinese food. The teahouse was not a place he would have chosen to do business but this was Lily's call. "My client is interested in anything you can show him," he said without wasting any time. "Provided it can be authenticated, that is." Lily had done business with him before. His client's identity was preserved under a cloak of strict anonymity, which suited her just fine. That way she didn't have to deal with tricky, rich, artistic personalities who thought they knew more than she did. Antiques and, in particular, stolen antiques were what she had dealt in since she was sixteen and she knew what she was talking about. "I have some things your client might be interested in," she said in a low voice, because you never knew who was listening. "I expect to take delivery of a batch of antiquities very soon. Cloisonné, famille verte, statues. . . ." "When will you have them?" His eyes bored into her, questioning her integrity. She hated him for it but she did not show that. Instead she smiled. "Within a few weeks. Meanwhile, here is something very special. The most important piece I have ever come across." She reached in her purse, took out a photograph and handed it to him. The man studied it carefully. "My client doesn't care for jewelry," he said curtly. "I think he will care for this when he hears its provenance." Lily took another sip of her green tea, meeting his eyes across the table. "Your client will no doubt have heard of the great Dragon Lady, Cixi, the Dowager Empress of China?" She spelled the name for him and told him it was pronounced chee shee, so that he could make his notes correctly. "Cixi was once a concubine but eventually she ruled China and was said to have been even more powerful than her contemporary, Queen Victoria. "The Empress lived in great splendor in the Forbidden City, and in preparation for her death she built herself a magnificent tomb, a lavish complex of temples, gates and pavilions glittering in gold and precious stones. "Eventually, she was buried there, wearing her elaborate crown and magnificent robes, along with her wonderful jewels and precious ornaments. And before they sealed the coffin, in accordance with Imperial custom, a large and very rare pearl, the size of a robin's egg, was placed in her mouth. It was believed this would preserve the royal corpse from decay." Lily paused in her story, studying the man opposite. He was looking at the photograph she had given him. She could tell from his body language he was interested, even though he pretended otherwise. It was all about money, she thought, cynically. But then, wasn't it always? "Twenty years later," she said, "the revolutionary troops dynamited the entrance to Cixi's burial chamber. The soldiers stripped the temples, looted all the treasures and opened Cixi's coffin. They ripped off her Imperial robes and stole the crown from her head. Then they threw her naked corpse onto the muddy ground." Lily paused and the man's stunned eyes met hers, waiting for what she would say next. "The body was said to be intact," she said softly. "And from her mouth, they stole that single, massive, rare pearl. A moonbeam of light and cool as death itself." The man lowered his eyes to the photograph and she smiled; she knew she had his interest now. "Yes," she said softly, "it's the very same one. There was, it has been said, a second pearl, this one taken from the Empress's crown. It's rumored that the second pearl came into the possession of Premier Chiang Kai-shek and ended up as an ornament, along with another fine pearl, on the party shoes of his wife, the famous Soong Mai-ling. The rest of the jewels disappeared into obscurity and into hidden collections." She paused again, making him wait. "Until suddenly," she said, "sixty or so years ago, a necklace surfaced, embedded with emeralds and rubies, diamonds and jade, all said to be from Cixi's tomb. And at its center was the famous pearl." Smiling, she saw him take a deep breath. Then he said, "And you are telling me you have this necklace with the pearl in your possession?" She lowered her eyes. "Let us just say I know where to lay my hands on it." Lily understood that he knew the existence of the necklace must be kept secret, that if the authorities found out about it she would certainly be in danger. "And the price?" "As always, that is open to discussion. Obviously it will not be cheap. And there is, of course, always a premium on a history and provenance as sinister as this one. Many men would enjoy handling the pearl from the mouth of the dead Empress, a woman who was once a famous concubine. It would give them a special thrill, I think." She smiled at the man, gathering up her handbag. "I'm sure we can do business together," she said, offering him her hand. The little birds trilled joyously as she left. Copyright (c) 2007 by Elizabeth Adler. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Meet Me in Venice by Elizabeth A. Adler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.