~ AN ABSOLUTE *DELIGHT* - AND UNBELIEVABLY LAUGH-OUT-LOUD FUNNY (5+ stars) ~
I absolutely loved this book and thank you to my Goodreads friend for recommending it! I was a little worried when I first started it, because my expectations had grown so high after reading her reviews for this book and the following three ones. Thankfully, it completely lived up to - and actually surpassed - my expectations :-). I checked this book out from the library, but will definitely be buying my own copy.
It's told in first-person narration and I found our heroine, Lady Julia Grey, absolutely hysterical and very, very engaging. She at first struck me as a little weak and self-indulgent, but she really grows into her own throughout the story and while she is by no means perfect, this only makes her seem that more real and makes the book that much better. I also liked that she was a little unsure of herself at times and not supremely confident, which made her (to me) endearing and the occasions where she stands her ground and won't back down that much more noticeable and cheer-worthy.
Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent who plays her male counterpart throughout the series, is haunted (and haunting), mysterious, intelligent, and utterly seductive. I loved his irreverence and one quickly and easily sees why he would be popular with the ladies and why Julia feels so drawn to him. There is a lot about his past that we don't know and since the story is told from Julia's POV, we're sometimes blind to his motivations or feelings. Despite these two "obstacles," Raybour does an excellent job of still making the reader feel very connected to him.
The encounters between the two of them were so, so enjoyable that my only complaint was I wanted *MORE*! Their dialog is so well-written, with the tension and chemistry between them leaping off of the pages - some sections or exchanges I would reread several times before being able to move on.
Julia's family (esp. Father and Portia) and servants (esp. Aquinas and Morag) are equally well-written and provide a great deal of added humor and depth to the story. I really cannot tell you how many times I *literally* laughed out loud while reading this book, despite the obvious horror it centers around - a murder. Julia, Brisbane, and the secondary cast of characters are so funny - most times unintentionally - that they really made the whole reading experience an absolutely fabulous one.
The mystery was very well-done, and while I had my suspicions relatively early on and they ended up being right, it was by no means obvious, the motive I had ascribed the murderer was completely and utterly wrong, and there were still several aspects of the mystery that were surprising and caught me off guard.
The ending was good if you're planning on reading the next book in the series - if not, or if I were stranded on a deserted island without the sequels, I might just tear my hair out! The mystery is completely resolved, but the relationship between Julia and Brisbane is not by any means. I am so looking forward to reading more about their adventures - and seeing how their romance plays out!!
TWO OF MY (MANY) FAVORITE JULIA-BRISBANE INTERACTIONS:
"If you were a man, your ladyship, I would cordially horsewhip you for that remark. As you are not, I will simply bid you farewell and leave you to your fresh and obviously debilitating grief." He said this last with a contemptuous glance at the Italian books piled on my desk and strode from the room.
"Did you mean what you said? You will pursue this?" Brisbane sipped at his tea. "I suppose. I have a few other matters that I must bring to conclusion, but nothing that cannot wait. And I have no other clients questioning either my integrity or my courage at present."
LADY JULIA GREY MYSTERY SERIES:
Book 1 - SILENT IN THE GRAVE (5+ stars)
Book 2 - Silent in the Sanctuary (4 stars)
Book 3 - Silent On The Moor (4 stars)
Book 4 - Dark Road to Darjeeling
Book 5 - The Dark Enquiry
Very enjoyable period mystery and very believable. I love the offbeat Marshs, the family she is from and how they support her. Her servants too are a part of her life. She is very arrogant in the beginning, but recognizes that in herself and begins to open up. I'm looking forward to reading more about the fabulously mysterious Mr. Brisbane.
This is probably the best book in the series. If you like books with strong father-daughter relationships, this is a good series (I also recommend Charles Dodd's Bess Crawford books for a great father-daughter tale). The family is quirky, and definitely put the 'fun' in 'dysfunctional.' The romance that develops is lovely, and gives satisfaction over the remaining books. Personally, I think Julia's love interest is a Heathcliff-type, too brooding to be fully vested in her, but she seems to bring him around okay. Very enjoyable read.