I have read all of these Lady Emily books. I've also read the Amelia Peabody series, I've read Anne Perry's Charlotte and friends mysteries (both of which are also set in the Victorian time period and whose characters I assume Lady Emily is somewhat modeled after). I'm sorry to say that Tasha Alexander's books aren't anywhere near in the same league. They lack the wit and depth of knowledge of Elizabeth Peters (and NO ONE can replicate Amelia Peabody), they lack the exquisite detail of research that marks Anne Perry's books.
By comparison, I find Alexander's characters superficial as tin foil, especially Lady Emily whose most daring deviation from the norm is to drink port (she spends an inordinate amount of time drinking something or another). She isn't clever, she's a bull in a china shop, whose insistent clumsiness often gets people killed. I find her merely self absorbed and not the least endearing.
Least satisfying is the author's lack of ability to take the many fragments of her stories and piece them into a coherent whole. Occasionally she comes up with a clever device (after the fashion of Dan Brown), but she simply lacks the ability to weave it into the story effectively. I spend most of my time with Alexander's books marking up the margins with outraged commentary on the general incoherence of the plotting, the superficiality of the characters and research, the ridiculous, often incongruous dialogue...and I could go on, but I don't care to become cruel. I do, after all, keep reading them.
They're light, they're fluff, they have exotic locations, everyone's rich, the women wear pretty dresses. I suppose I'll have to call them, for me, a guilty pleasure. Although the pleasure is less and less, and I think this will be the end of my sojourn with Lady Emily. I stayed with her hoping perhaps that the characters would grow a little, that the author might develop in her skills, but this hasn't happened, and I'm exhausted with the effort I put into these books trying to rewrite them to my own satisfaction.
I would wind up my journey with Lady Emily by pointing out to those who may be thinking of peeking into her world, that these books are surely for younger, less demanding readers (who seem very generous with their stars). If you're looking for something that only requires a small portion of your brain, this is the ticket. If you want something with wit and sophistication, something challenging, go to the originals (Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry). Or try Ian Pears' Flavia and Argyle series, which is a true delight, and, again, is written by someone who actually finished college and is capable of some depth in his topic as opposed to simply name dropping the occasional artist and thinking that makes her sound learned.