La Divina or Just a Diva? SECRETS OF A SOPRANO by Miranda Neville


SOASby Miranda Neville
Publisher: Miranda Neville
Digital and Paperback: 290 pages
Published April 11th, 2016


E-Galley provided by Ms. Neville for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.




No one knows the perils of celebrity better than Teresa Foscari, Europe’s most famous opera singer. The public knows her as a glamorous and tempestuous diva, mistress to emperors, a reputation created by the newspapers and the ruthless man who exploited her. Now she has come to London to make a fresh start and find her long lost English family.

Foscari’s peerless voice thrills all London—except Maximilian Hawthorne, Viscount Allerton, the wealthy patron of opera—and lover of singers. Notorious Teresa Foscari is none other than Tessa, the innocent girl who broke his youthful heart. When his glittering new opera house sits half empty, thanks to the soprano filling the seats of his competitor’s theater, Max vows to stop the woman he unwillingly still desires.

Amidst backstage intrigue and the sumptuous soirées of fashionable London, the couple’s rivalry explodes in bitter accusations and smashed china. With her reputation in ruins, Tessa must fight for her career —and resist her burning attraction to the man who wishes to destroy her.

My Take Oblong

La Divina, the diva, Tessa Foscari takes center stage as the most developed character in this story of the life and love of an opera star of the Regency era.

Miranda Neville is an opera lover and has written much in the Regency Romance genre. It makes both aspects the natural setting for this new Romance.

It’s also natural that the diva should be a more developed character than the beau. She is the Diva after all.

Miranda always seems to have women’s issues in mind when she writes: whether it is the story of the Spittalfields mills or, men dying and leaving their wives with crushing debts and no way to repay them, or in this case the treachery of husbands and theatrical management in an age when women had virtually no property rights.  

And, even though we now have property rights, treacherous spouses still abound in an industry where artistry and business law collide. When the artist is younger or more into the art than the money or contract law, it leaves a space for unscrupulous lovers to fill their own pockets at the expense of the talent’s coffers.

There is a lot of sexual tension. But, I felt Neville was holding back on the rage and other feelings that made Tessa behave as she does: with gibbering fright or spectacular rages. There is a secret here, but Neville leaves it a little too long in the reveal and it makes the Divina feel like another temperamental star.

There are some interesting twists and one twist proves a backdrop for the question of the identity of  the celebrity; Max wonders if Tessa is the girl he knew or this hardened celebrity with royal lovers.  Race and religion also show themselves as issues in the book — that’s another issue that is still in play today.

I really like Neville’s word smithing – she has an amazing vocabulary and I loved some of the choices she made and felt good about looking them up. 

All in all it is a pleasant and enjoyable book offering an interesting view of the the world of Regency opera and theatre and the problems arising from the position of a woman without means in the professional world of the period.

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