Author: Deanna Raybourn
Copyright: 2009 (Mira); 465 pgs.
Series: 3rd in the Lady Julia Grey series
Where & When: England, 1888
At the end of Silent in the Sanctuary, Lady Julia Grey learns that Nicholas Brisbane has invited her sister Portia to help him set up his household at Grimsgrave. Julia is determined to settle, once and for all, the question of whether there is a future for herself and Brisbane. She intends to accompany Portia to Yorkshire, whether she wants company or not.
As the book opens, Julia’s oldest brother, Belllmont, is fussing about his sisters’ plan to travel unchaperoned. The respectability of the family would be called into question and Bellmont doesn’t need that type of scrutiny at this time. His own children are entering society and a scandal could hurt their chances. The Marches have always been unconventional, but the Earl March has already decided to send Valerius, his youngest, along with Julia and Portia to prevent gossip. Bellmont is mollified, but the others are unhappy. In this state, the sisters set off to Yorkshire with their brother, their lady's maids, and their pets.
What Julia finds in Yorkshire is an estate that will require extensive repair -- a job way beyond simply setting up one's household -- and Brisbane is his usual impossible self. His habit of seeming to want her gone, at the same time holding her close, is frustrating -- not to mention his habit of disappearing for days on end. Wanting to be useful to the destitute Allenby women still residing at Grimsgrave, Julia offers to catalog the late Sir Redwell Allenby's Egyptian collection in preparation for selling it. However, she stumbles upon a mystery. There's more about the Allenby family than an obsessed son who financially ruined his family estate and then died, leaving his mother and two sisters at the mercy of strangers.
The first Gothic romances I read where by Victoria Holt, so I could easily imagine the atmosphere Julia and her siblings found themselves in. The ancient estate and the bleak moor are perfect settings for the brooding half-Gypsy, half-Scotsman Brisbane. The man fit right in. And thanks to my extensive experience with those books by Holt, I knew to suspect everyone Julia met of some crime or other --- because there's no telling what secrets they might be hiding. ;-)
I thought this was a much better book than Sanctuary. There seemed to be more interaction between Julia and Brisbane in this book than the last one. Maybe it felt that way because Julia learned a lot more about him, and the author wrapped up the mysteries of Brisbane's past. I don't think that Julia is quiet up to "equal partner" status in the private inquiry business yet. She has a lot more to learn before I trust her to solve a mystery. I must say I was impressed with her willingness to tackle someone.
"You are a singular woman, Julia Grey. You persist in seeing me as the man you want me to be."
"No, I see you as the man you want to be."
"I could give it all away, you know. I am sure there is some home for elderly cats or something that would appreciate the money."
"I am leaving England for awhile."
"For how long?"
"Until I am quite recovered from you."
"When will you return?"
-- Brisbane, Julia
Started: 17 March 2009
Finished: 19 March 2009