Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
(Book 3 of the Lady Julia Grey series)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 463
Date Published: March 2009
Publisher: MIRA Books
Source: I purchased this book NEW, with my own money, at my local bookstore!
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
Despite his admonitions to stay away, Lady Julia arrives in Yorkshire to find Brisbane as remote and maddeningly attractive as ever. Cloistered together, they share the moldering house with the proud but impoverished remnants of an ancient family—the sort that keeps their bloodline pure and their secrets close. Lady Allenby and her daughters, dependent upon Brisbane and devastated by their fall in society, seem adrift on the moor winds, powerless to change their fortunes. But poison does not discriminate between classes…
A mystery unfolds from the rotten heart of Grimsgrave, one Lady Julia may have to solve alone, as Brisbane appears inextricably tangled in its heinous twists and turns. But blood will out, and before spring touches the craggy northern landscape, Lady Julia will have uncovered a Gypsy witch, a dark rider and a long-buried legacy of malevolence and evil.
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The third book in Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series transports us to the wild and isolated moors of Yorkshire. Brisbane has purchased Grimsgrave Hall, a place from his past that is in great disrepair and haunted by secrets. Determined to settle the status of their relationship once and for all, Lady Julia and her sister Portia visit, uninvited, to "help" him set up his household. They encounter surprises at every turn, including the Allenby women whose family used to own Grimsgrave Hall--ruined by the reckless spending of the eldest son (Sir Redwall) before he died. An attempted poisoning and the discovery of two mummified babies hidden in Sir Redwall's Egyptian collection give Julia much to puzzle over.

Brisbane isn't as involved in the investigations this time around. He seems to be preoccupied with other matters and he spends a lot of time pushing Julia away. She doesn't believe his words and chooses instead to believe his body language. Eventually they find that their investigations intersect, but I was annoyed by how much Brisbane kept Julia in the dark. He seems to enjoy having her keep busy working on things he already knows because he doesn't really want her too involved. I understand that they have strong feelings for each other and I found the outcome of their relationship at the end of the book to be satisfying, but Brisbane's penchant for secrecy would frustrate me like crazy.

The Allenby family was mysterious and pretty interesting compared to Julia's family. The Allenbys were so preoccupied with their royal history and noble legacy, even though they had lost everything. Their attitudes were so snooty when compared to the March family, though Hilda, the prickly and independent daughter was not as stuffy. There ended up being some serious skeletons in that family's closet.

I also have to comment that this is one of the only historical fiction books I've read that features GLBT characters in important roles. Julia's sister, Portia, was in a relationship with her former husband's cousin, Jane. In this book, Jane has left Portia because of her desire for a child of her own, and Portia is devastated. The portrayal is sympathetic and Julia's family had accepted Jane as part of the family. It was nice to see a portrayal that treated GLBT characters as regular people and not as scandalous persons to be shunned or ignored. Society may not have been as accepting, but at least Julia's family wasn't that way.

Finally, a note about the cover: I don't really care for it. It makes Silent on the Moor look like a bodice-ripper when it isn't really like that. There is passion and desire, but *SPOILER AHEAD* bedroom activities are post-wedding and are not described in detail. This isn't your typical romance novel--it is more of a historical mystery with romantic aspects to it.

So, I really enjoyed this book. I liked learning more about Brisbane's background and I liked seeing how Lady Julia worked on her own. I am looking forward to reading more about Lady Julia and Brisbane. Stay tuned for my review of the newest book in the series, The Dark Road to Darjeeling.

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