Author: Deanna Raybourn
Provided Synopsis: Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father’s estate crowded with family and friends; but dark deeds are afoot at the deconsecrated abbey, and a murderer roams the ancient cloisters.
Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget – the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane – is among her father’s house guests, and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.
But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia’s own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her cousin’s innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again. When a sudden snowstorm blankets the abbey like a shroud, it falls to Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane to answer the shriek of murder most foul.
Review: With the eccentric March family delivering plenty of charm and amusement, I want to give this book a five-star rating so badly, but I find that I can’t. If I am to judge this story with the same criteria as I do with other books then I can only give a 3.5 rating again due to the time that it takes for the murder to occur. Do not get me wrong – I adore the characters and once the murder finally happens I found myself engrossed in trying to discover who must be brought to justice. I just continue to be a firm believer that it should not take so long for the murder to occur, and in this book the murder does not happen until fifty percent of the book is already completed.
Unlike the first novel in the series, the resolution of this murder came with a lack of suspense. Julia does not find her life in danger; instead she must face the realization that her detective skills were not as sharp as she would have liked since the tangled web of those involved in nefarious activity was much larger than she had anticipated. The complexity behind the murder is wonderful, so I guarantee that you will not be let down by it.
The characters that we have previously met also continue to develop, especially Julia and her relationship with Nicholas Brisbane. In this installment Julia comes to the realization that her old marriage and the way in which she had been conducting her life had been stifling to her. She no longer will be content with being seen as unequal to the men of her life whom she admires, Brisbane included. Their partnership when it came to the murder investigation was not as thorough this time around, but the evolution to their relationship was good to see, and readers will continue to be interested to know what will become of them now that Julia has delivered to him a speech demanding to be seen as his equal. Great stuff!