Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I Read in August Part I

What I Read in August Part I . . .

Midsummer Night (A Lady Julia Grey Novel)Midsummer Night by Deanna Raybourn -- Historical Romance

As Twelfth Night approaches, a tipsy Julia pens a letter to her niece Ophelia, a bride-to-be. Julia describes the days before the wedding and the heady daze she felt, yet the wedding almost didn't happen! There were bickering sisters, a hideous wedding dress, a mysterious fire, a temperamental cook and dire gypsy fortunes. What else could possibly go wrong? How about a visitor from Julia's past?

This is a 5 star read for fans of the series. It's all very light and breezy, even the little mystery isn't much of a mystery and handled with humor. Deanna Raybourn amps up the heat factor in the story. Though Julia and Brisbane are not permitted to be alone, they seize every opportunity they can to be together for "interesting interludes." The interludes are clean but sexy. The story concludes with her feelings on their wedding night and the lead up to Dark Road to Darjeeling.

Julia is her usual irrepressible self and Brisbane is not brooding for once. He's mooning though because he loves Julia and her family won't allow them to be alone together. As usual, her zany relatives provide the comic relief and we even get to meet more of Brisbane's equally eccentric family. I love the way Julia deals with them and how everything turns out. Marigold sounds like an interesting character and I hope there's more Lady Julia mysteries so we can see more of her. She sounds complex and I see where Brisbane gets his brooding from.

The only bad part about this story is that it's short and leaves me wanting more Lady Julia adventures.

Silent Night: A Lady Julia Christmas Novella (Lady Julia Grey, #5.5)Silent Night: A Lady Julia Christmas Novella by Deanna Raybourn-- Historical Mystery

Lady Julia Grey and her husband, Nicholas Brisbane, are spending the Christmas season with her family. She's hoping for a cheerful, joyous celebration like the ones she remembers from her childhood. Instead, she arrives to discover doom and gloom: her father is morose, the house is not decorated and they can't seem to keep staff on hand because one of the maids claims to have seen a ghost! When some jewels go missing, Julia is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery - with or without Brisbane's help!

I wasn't sure what to expect from this story. I was a bit worried about Julia after the end of the last novel and wondered how her relationship with Brisbane was going to be. I needn't have worried about anything. Julia is back in all her glory and Brisbane is still sexy as h-e-double-hockey-sticks. They have some very interesting interludes when she's not busy trying to make Christmas or solve crimes. She's still the same as always, and I'm glad, yet I think she should have matured a bit after her ordeal. The mystery is so simple. I figured out whodunnit right away. For once, it's not gothic or dark. The whole story is so lighthearted, it made me grin the whole way through. I especially like the menagerie of pets that accompany the Marches wherever they go. The story hints at past events but doesn't really spoil too much so it can be read as a stand alone, though is best appreciated by those who have read the entire series. I want more! 

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6)Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn- Historical Mystery

This story follows more closely on the end of The Dark Enquiry than "Silent Night" does. The tone is also a bit darker. I was expecting to read more about the March family revels but instead found a darker mystery. I really didn't like that the baby was Lucy and "Black Jack's" baby. Julia and Brisbane adopting such a baby would be completely out of the question, even for the eccentric Marches. They would be very worried about inherited characteristics and how the baby was destined to be evil like his father. Victorians weren't really interested in adoption to begin with, let alone adopting the child of a well-known criminal, even if he is one's own brother, would be out of the question.

I also had issues with Jane, the Younger. There's a 10 month old infant living in my family's house right now. He is not aware enough to drop his food on purpose (though the dog is eagerly awaiting this trick). He drops his toys but not on purpose yet, though I have known other children his age that did. He is not yet aware enough to cry when he doesn't get his own way. Portia doesn't know what she's doing, but no new mother does. They would wonder about the aforementioned inherited characteristics. Jane, the Younger's father was a bit of a wastrel, if I recall.

The mystery was solved too quickly and there wasn't enough detail in the plot.There's still a bit of humor, especially in the opening scene. I loved Perdita and I wished for more about her. How did she discover what she did about the oysters? The comparisons to her Aunt Julia vs. society's expectations for women was a bit heavy handed. The introduction of the boys who idolize Brisbane was very cute. The one major thing this book is lacking is the actual play. That would have been fun to read about.

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