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07 July 2014

Deanna Raybourn: Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey)

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An interesting but not outstanding Victorian "melodrama"
This is the second book in Deanna Raybourn's successful historical romantic/sleuth series about Lady Julia Grey, a rich Victorian widow, who stumbles into a "career" as a private investigator when her husband dies. In the first book she met enigmatic and potentially very sexy Nicholas Brisbane, a part-time private investigator for the aristocracy, who told her that her husband has been murdered and asked for her help in finding the culprit.

Julia has just spent a year abroad in Italy recovering from a fire which destroyed her home and her husband's murderer and nearly took her life. During that time she hasn't heard a word from Brisbane and when she returns to home for Christmas to Belmont Abbey she is surprised to find Brisbane there as a guest of her father. She is more surprised to find that he is to become Lord Wargrave and she is even more surprised to find that he is accompanied by his fiancé, Mrs Charlotte King.

What follows is a very interesting house party of family and friends. Julia's family, the Hart's, are known for their eccentricity but the addition of murder and theft make this a most unusual house party. Of course Julia teams up again with Brisbane to find the culprits and there is some sexual tension, but not as much as I would have expected.

All in all this turned out to be something of a Victorian "melodrama", with potential villains everywhere, all played out in a Victorian country house party environment, with family, friends with unknown backgrounds, ghosts, secret passages, gypsies, poisoning and jewel theft set against a background of Victorian manners and behaviours.

While this series is a little outside my normal reading stream I enjoyed the first book because I was left with anticipation of what would happen next. At the end of this book I was disappointed that the relationship between Julia and Brisbane had not developed as fast as I expected and there was a lot of the same. I am not sure if I want to keep reading to see where the relationship heads.

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