Category Archives: Victorian

The Irish Healer: A Novel by Nancy Herriman

Loved this story of love, redemption and truth.

The Irish Healer: A Novel by Nancy Herriman
Worthy Publishing, April 2012
320 pages Paperback 9781936034789
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine, May 2012
Burton Book Review Rating:4 Stars

An inspiring yet predictable story of love blooming between different social classes, The Irish Healer depicts the story of Rachel Dunne, accused murderer. Forced to flee Ireland, she finds work at the home of Dr. Edmunds in London. Dr. Edmunds is battling his own personal demons but falls in love with Rachel from the start. Rachel is an accomplished healer, and would be a perfect fit as Dr. Edmunds assistant if she allowed herself to work in the trade again. With shame on her sleeve, the doctor knows there must be more to Rachel’s story but she refuses to share the real reason why she left Ireland. However, the cholera epidemic of the 1800’s derails both the doctor’s and Rachel’s stubbornness and forces the two to work together.

The servants in Dr. Edmunds’ employ created atmospheric appeal, particularly with the depiction of the amiable house boy Joe’s dialect. From a loyal housekeeper to a pompous sister-in-law, the supporting characters and scenery of England enrich the sometimes stagnant love story along with themes of prejudice, redemption and faith, both in oneself and God. The Irish Healer is an encouraging debut and should be enjoyed by most readers of Christian historical fiction.



Filed under 19th century, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational, Ireland, Victorian

Review: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

The Map of Time: A Novel by Felix J. Palma
Hardcover: 611 pages
Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (June 28, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1439167397
Review copy provided by Atria, with many, many thanks!
Burton Book Review Rating:Fabulous.

Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and thereby save the lives of an aristocrat in love with a murdered prostitute from the past; of a woman bent on fleeing the strictures of Victorian society; and of his very own wife, who may have become a pawn in a 4th-dimensional plot to murder the authors of Dracula, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in order to alter their identities and steal their fictional creations.  
But, what happens if we change history?  Felix J. Palma raises such questions in The Map of Time. Mingling fictional characters with real ones, Palma weaves a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting, a story full of love and adventure that also pays homage to the roots of science fiction while transporting its readers to a fascinating Victorian London for their own taste of time travel. 
I’ve always been a non-conformist. So, there are times when books from Oprah’s Must-Have list immediately get ignored by me, just because. (Not that this one is on it.. because does Oprah even do that anymore?) I have seen The Map of Time getting some attention here and there, and I must admit that The Map of Time is worthy of whatever accolades come its way. There are quite a few (deserving) gushy blurbs on this book, such as:
“Strange and wonderful. Magical and smart.”~M.J. Rose
“Singularly inventive, luscious story with a core of pure, unsettling weirdness.”~Cherie Priest
I can’t really add more to that except that I heartily agree. Let’s just say, I got it. I really got it. And then there are some who won’t get it, but I am glad I was one of the lucky ones. The book is a gorgeous piece of work in itself which got it on its first path to my heart: a hardcover with embossed gold lettering, intriguing imagery on the cover and the endpapers and then the book is a hefty 611 pages. So, I read a few other books before tackling this one because I figured I’d be bogged down with those 611 pages and I would probably have to carve out a chunk of my life to devote to this book. BZZZZZ I was wrong. I found myself reading over one hundred pages a night, and that is a feat considering that I typically read half that in twice the amount of time as I tend to fall asleep rather easily. The Map of Time was different.
It is so different that I cannot even strictly classify this book. Historical fiction because it is set in 1896, but it jumps ahead to the year 2000 which makes it a time travel book. And that means science fiction and that means I have lost you, haven’t I? WAIT.. come back!!!!! I admit that there was a paragraph or two in the scientific explanations that started to wear me down, but the rest of it was, quite frankly, genius.
So along with history and science there is a bit more that makes up this whole circle of life: Romance. Heroes. Suicidal tendencies. Murder. Jack the Ripper. Evil inventors. Automatons. H.G. Wells. Insights into mankind as a human race. An omniscient narrator you want to smack every now and then. Just a little bit of everything for everyone all wrapped up in this magnificent book that I honest to God truly snuck out of my desk drawer and read at my desk at work. There was just something about this story, however convoluted it strived to be- how it connected and reconnected in circles of time from the past and the future, that really grabbed me. The whole concept of these ripples of time and the effect of the time continuum through the past to the present to the future was very well plotted out in all of its intricacies. And the addition of intriguing characters like Bram Stoker, H.G. Wells, and the Elephant Man were fantastic little escapades into the author’s clever world of alternate history. It was really a pretty complicated storyline, but the way it all started filling in as I went along ended up enhancing the story more and more for me, although I wish the ending was a bit more dramatic than it wound up being.
So what was it all about anyway, you ask.. well, it opens to a young man contemplating suicide because his girlfriend is gone. But his cousin saves him by giving him hope that he can go back in time when she was alive and perhaps alter the future.. and that was part one. Along comes part two, and we meet another set of characters, yet they cross paths with the first group.. and the very important fabric of time is thus created.. but what happens if we pull on that one stray thread? What exactly does unravel? A bit of treachery and dishonesty starts to fray the fabric and yet we remain still stuck in the circle of time and reality becomes a bit dimmer as the hope for a better future brightens the present…
I don’t want to spoil it anymore… the synopsis alone gives off a lot of information that should be enough to whet your appetite. Since this is a book of an eclectic origin, I think there are a select few who just won’t be able to understand or appreciate the storyline, but then there will be others like me who are fortunate enough to have enjoyed climbing out of the box with this one. And be careful with that box, folks, because there are dragons and ferocious beasts that will kill you if you open it…

The intro to part 3, via camera phone.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Best of 2011, Mystery, Victorian

Review: Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders by Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders by Gyles Brandreth
Touchstone, May 2011
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9781439153680
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Great fun! Four stars!

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders opens in 1890, at a glamorous party hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Albemarle. All of London’s high society — including the Prince of Wales — are in attendance at what promises to be the event of the season. Yet Oscar Wilde is more interested in another party guest, Rex LaSalle, a young actor who claims to be a vampire.

But the entertaining evening ends in tragedy when the duchess is found murdered — with two tiny puncture marks on her throat. Desperate to avoid scandal and panic, the Prince asks Oscar and his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to investigate the crime. What they discover threatens to destroy the very heart of the royal family. Told through diary entries, newspaper clippings, telegrams, and letters, Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders is a richly atmospheric mystery that is sure to captivate and entertain.

I love me some history with mystery and vice versa. Vampires, no, not so much. But last year I read Dracula in Love by Karen Essex and really loved it. The theme of medical experimentation is in both of these books, horrific as the thought is. I knew this Oscar Wilde series by Gyles Brandreth already had accumulated a following due to the prior mysteries, so I wanted to give this fourth one a try. Oscar Wilde was truly an amazing man, and I enjoyed how his character was so efficiently infused in this mystery. The absolute main draw of this mystery was the wittiness of Oscar and his never ending amount of one liners.

Apparently different from the previous forms of the series, this installment utilizes many different narrators as told via notes, letters and diaries. The main characters are all distinguished gentlemen who behaved in similar fashions, so I had to sometimes go back and look at the heading of the particular note or letter to see who was speaking presently. The narrations were short and swiftly changing, hence the minor confusion at times. This would be the only negative about this book, as the story was full of these British guys partying like 1890’s rock stars and doing their little investigations of the murders along the way. There was indeed one of those guys who swore he was a vampire, and the murdered victims were adorned with vampire-like wounds, but that was pretty much the extent of the vampiristic tendencies except of course for the men discussing the habits of vampires. The first victim was a beautiful duchess named Helen, whom Oscar liked to quip “She is Helen, late of Troy, now of Grosvenor Square.” The sleuths had to decipher whether there was a big cover-up going on because “the prince detests scandal” or was the prince never really involved at all.

Along with Oscar Wilde, other famous notables we have would be his close friend, Bram Stoker, aspiring vampire author, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the slowly becoming famous author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Among the suspect pool we have doctors, Princes, and of course, the vampire friend Rex LaSalle whom Oscar was infatuated with. And then of course there was the magnificent character of Victorian England herself, where the author did a magnificent job of setting the scene and reimagining the cobbled streets of the era. I especially enjoyed the High Tea scenes, where it boasted a feast that excluded only tea. One of the suspects, the Prince of Wales, is the same prince who became Edward VII in 1901, and it was his order that none of this vampire murder business be published while he was alive, which is why we have this splendid story at our disposal now (wink, wink).

And as far as the mystery goes, I had a feeling regarding the whodunit part, but the why part was intriguing as well. The novel was definitely the “rattling good yarn” the author wanted to give us, and I will definitely keep an eye out for his other Oscar Wilde history mysteries since I enjoyed this one so much.

Some witty Oscar Wilde lines in the novel:
The man who thinks about his past has no future.”
It is, of course, the the second editions of my books that are the true rarities.”
The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.”


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Mystery, Victorian

Review: Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach

(To enter the giveaway for this novel which ends 7/16/11 visit Burton Book Review here.)

Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach
Bantam Paperback, 512 pages
ISBN 13: 978-0385343879
Review copy provided by the author, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:4.5 stars!


Picking up after the shattering end of Gustave Flaubert’s classic, Madame Bovary, this beguiling novel imagines an answer to the question Whatever happened to Emma Bovary’s orphaned daughter?

One year after her mother’s suicide and just one day after her father’s brokenhearted demise, twelve-year-old Berthe Bovary is sent to live on her grandmother’s impoverished farm. Amid the beauty of the French countryside, Berthe models for the painter Jean-François Millet, but fate has more in store for her than a quiet life of simple pleasures. Berthe’s determination to rise above her mother’s scandalous past will take her from the dangerous cotton mills of Lille to a convent in Rouen to the wealth and glamour of nineteenth-century Paris. There, as an apprentice to famed fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth, Berthe is ushered into the high society of which she once only dreamed. But even as the praise for her couture gowns steadily rises, she still yearns for the one thing her mother never had: the love of someone she loves in return.

Brilliantly integrating one of classic literature’s fictional creations with real historical figures, Madame Bovary’s Daughter is an uncommon coming-of-age tale, a splendid excursion through the rags and the riches of French fashion, and a sweeping novel of poverty and wealth, passion and revenge.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert caused quite a stir over a hundred years ago in Paris, as it gave us the uninhibited housewife’s struggle to always want more than what she was given. Madame Bovary caused a scandal with her adultery, and died a young woman. Shortly after, her doting husband followed her to the grand mausoleum. This left their daughter, Berthe, a penniless orphan. And this is where author Linda Urbach picks up the story as she brings us the tale of Berthe’s life in Madame Bovary’s Daughter.
With great attention to period detail, the author recreated Berthe’s world in France as she struggled to find her place in the world. Berthe is young, but intelligent, and yet the author had the young girl making decisions as a young girl would, even though I wished Berthe would wise up at times. Those times were very hard for her, and she just wanted a normal, decent life for herself. That was not in the cards, though, as her grandmother reduced her to a slave and later Berthe toiled in a textile mill.
Berthe’s only female friend was a thief, but Berthe managed to maintain a friendly relationship with a painter. He introduced to the world of art, and this opened up her creativity. She later found herself suggesting fabrics and designs to friends of her employer, and managed to work her way up slowly in society. How she got there was a struggle that was at times difficult to bear, as she underwent much hardship since her story began. But throughout her story, we witness Berthe becoming a young woman, never quite losing her girlish impetuousness, but finally managing to make wise decisions.

Madame Bovary’s Daughter is not a quick light-hearted read, as it can be depressing and disheartening And even though my psyche railed against the poor decisions of Berthe, I always wanted to keep reading and see how she would get out of her current predicament. As a pretty young girl, Berthe attracted the attentions of many (female and male), thus there were several sexual situations and they could get graphic. These scenes add to the authenticity of the plight of Berthe as she attempts to make her life better than her own mother’s was. At 500 pages, this novel took me 3 days to read, which means I found it very hard to put down. A very intriguing story, and Gustave Flaubert would be proud to have Berthe’s voice finally on paper, as well as an additional understanding of Gustave’s original characters.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Victorian

{Giveaway!} Guest Post: Linda Urbach, author of Madame Bovary’s Daughter

Have you heard of the scandalous Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert? His first published novel in 1850, and it was a pioneering one at that. And the scandal! The criticism of social classes, the affairs..Flaubert himself was hit with an immorality charge when Madame Bovary was serialized in a literary magazine.

I am looking forward to learning more of this intriguing story, and I will review Madame Bovary’s Daughter here on Burton Book Review this summer. I asked the author to elaborate on a few key topics for her potential readers. Please welcome author Linda Urbach to Burton Book Review with her introduction to her newest novel, and she is offering up a giveaway, too!

Why I wrote Madame Bovary’s Daughter.
When I encountered the novel Madame Bovary for the first time in my early twenties I thought: how sad, how tragic. Poor, poor Emma Bovary. Her husband was a bore, she was desperately in love with another man (make that two men), and she craved another life; one that she could never afford (I perhaps saw a parallel to my own life here). Finally, tragically, she committed suicide. It took her almost a week of agony to die from the arsenic she’d ingested.

But twenty- five years later and as the mother of a very cherished daughter, I reread Madame Bovary. And now I had a different take altogether: What was this woman thinking? What kind of wife would repeatedly cheat on her hardworking husband and spend all her family’s money on a lavish wardrobe for herself and gifts for her man of the moment; most important of all, what kind of mother was she?

It was almost as if she (Berthe Bovary) came to me in the middle of the night and said, “please tell my story.” Having adopted my beautiful daughter at age 2/12 days I had a big soft spot in my heart for the orphan Berthe Bovary. I totally sympathized with her lack of mother love. Also, I remembered how much I loved Paris when I lived there. I had a strong desire to return– which I was able to do in my head as I wrote the novel.

The research and writing process of Madame Bovary’s Daughter.

This is the first historical fiction I’ve ever written, so research played a big part. My first two novels were all about me but my life had gotten very boring which is why I turned to historical fiction. I used the Internet almost extensively. I found sites where I could walk through Parisian mansions of the times. Sites that not only showed what women wore but also gave instructions on how to create the gowns that were popular. I bought this great book, Mrs. Beeton’s Household Management which gives you details of absolutely everything you need to know about the running of a house in the 1850’s. You want to serve a 12-course dinner, she’ll tell you how. She’ll also tell you how many servants you need and how many pounds of paté you need to order.

The thing about research is you have to be careful not to let research get in the way of the writing. I tended to get so interested and involved in reading about the Victorian times and France in the 1850’s I would find the whole day had gone by and I hadn’t written a word. So the important thing for me is making sure I’ve got the story going forward. That’s the work part. The fun part is then filling in the historic details. It’s like I have to finish my dinner before I’ve earned my dessert. The other thing about research is that I learned to keep room open for a character I hadn’t thought about before. For example, I suddenly came across the famous couturier Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman who went to Paris and revolutionized the fashion business. He jumped off the page at me and insisted on being part of my novel. So my advice to writers is always keep a place at the table of your book for an unexpected guest.

Release date: July 26, 2011

Summary of Madame Bovary’s Daughter

What you may remember about Madame Bovary is that she was disappointed in her marriage, shopped a great deal, drove her family into bankruptcy, was abandoned by two lovers, and finally took her own life. With all that drama, who even remembers she had a daughter?

And what ever happened to the only, lonely daughter of the scandalous Madame Bovary? Poor Berthe Bovary. She was neglected, unloved, orphaned and sold into servitude before the age of 13. It seems even Flaubert didn’t have much time for her. She was the most insignificant and ignored character in that great classic novel.

But in Madame Bovary’s Daughter we see how Berthe used the lessons she learned from her faithless, feckless, materialistic mother to overcome extreme adversity and yes, triumph in the end. As a young girl, Berthe becomes a model for famed artist Jean Francois Millet, later a friend to a young German named Levi Strauss and finally a business associate of Charles Frederick Worth, the world’s first courtier.

This is a Sex and the Cité tale of a beautiful woman who goes from rags to riches, from sackcloth to satin, from bed to business. Busy as she is, she still has time to wreak revenge on the one man who broke her mother’s heart. And, of course to have her own heart broken as well.

From her grandmother’s farm, to the cotton mills to the rich society of Paris, it is a constant struggle to not repeat her mother’s mistakes. She is determined not to end up “like mother, like daughter”. And yet she is in a lifelong search for the “mother love” she never had.

Berthe Bovary is a Victorian forerunner of the modern self-made woman.

~~Thanks so much to Linda Urbach for introducing us to her new novel! If this novel intrigues you as much as it does me, then sign up for the giveaway! The author is offering one lucky follower their own copy of Madame Bovary’s Daughter, open to the USA. Please leave me your email address in the comments as well. Giveaway ends 7/16/11.

Don’t forget to Follow:

EDIT to add that I have finished the novel (LOVED it) and you can read my review here at Burton Book Review.


Filed under 2011 Releases, Victorian

Book Review: The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry

THE ARROW CHEST by Robert Parry
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical literary, Victorian Gothic
Createspace, January 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1452801148
342 pages, available in Paperback $11.95 and on Kindle
Author’s Website and Endymion at Night
Review copy provided by the author, Thank You!!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four Big Shiney Stars!

London, 1876. The painter Amos Roselli is in love with his life-long friend and model, the beautiful Daphne – and she with him – until one day she is discovered by another man, a powerful and wealthy industrialist. What will happen when Daphne realises she has sacrificed her happiness to a loveless marriage? What will happen when the artist realises he has lost his most cherished source of inspiration? And how will they negotiate the ever-increasing frequency of strange and bizarre events that seem to be driving them inexorably towards self-destruction. Here, amid the extravagant Neo-Gothic culture of Victorian England, the iconic poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ blends with mysterious and ghostly glimpses of Tudor history. Romantic, atmospheric and deeply dark.

One of my favorite Tudor figures will always be Anne Boleyn. So when a Tudor fan has had her fill of the myriad of Tudor fiction available, what is the next best thing? The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry. Gothic suspense, macabre darkened hallways, bones in an arrow chest. This is how the novel opens up, as painter Roselli is called upon to sketch what is found in this arrow chest, most probably the remains of Anne Boleyn, beheaded queen of tyrant King Henry VIII.

The struggling painter did not particularly enjoy this task, as his favorite past time is painting his childhood friend Daphne. The story then goes on to focus on Amos and Daphne reconnecting during holidays with distinguished English folks, all the while Amos knows that something is just not right with Daphne’s new life as a wife to the churlish Oliver Ramsey. As the story progresses, there are more than a few parallels to Anne Boleyn as we get into more of Daphne’s character. It was played out in a subtle manner though, and only Tudor fans would catch these similarities. Until we got to Oliver Ramsey, who was portrayed just as maniacal as fat King Henry. I appreciated how the author recreated these details without pointing out the fact that Daphne was just like Anne Boleyn, especially since the main protagonist Amos was not an admitted Tudor connoisseur.

Parry’s story is totally character driven from Daphne and Oliver to Amos’ servants. Amos’ maid, Beth, is a strong character as she willingly supports her artistic and eccentric employer even as she wonders if her life as a maid is to be her only destiny. And Amos is constantly seeking knowledge, of which the reader is privy to his musings, of inspirational and spiritual endeavours in many forms which rounded out the driving story of what would happen to Daphne. Would Daphne wind up with the same fate as Anne Boleyn? Would evil Oliver have her shut away in a loony bin because she couldn’t provide an heir? Could Amos save her and allow himself the benefit of her love?

As a Tudor fanatic, I was impressed with the storyline and the way it was written by Robert Parry as he wove the history of the Tudors into the Victorian story of Amos the artist who loves a married woman, who was lucky enough to have the woman love him back. The Arrow Chest imbibes whimsical and mysterious plot lines with Robert Parry’s distinctly descriptive prose. This is a love story channeling the spirit of Anne Boleyn and her tyrannical king, but it is also blended with witty scenes such as revengeful arm wrestling and ghostly tarot card reading scenes. The novel was so pleasurable that I was in no hurry to rush through to the story’s end, perhaps because I feared Daphne would indeed suffer tragedy at the hands of her evil husband just as Anne Boleyn did.

As a self-published author, Robert Parry deserves to be picked up by a major publishing house (and acquire the benefit of a team of editors!). His writing and tone flowed flawlessly, aside from the editing issues. Those readers who are used to the punctuation type errors from advance reader copies like I am would not be disturbed by the errors that are in this copy, but the average reader may be distracted by them. I am editing to insert the fact that after I posted this review that I must have received an earlier edition of the book, as these errors were later corrected in newer copies. I cannot wait for the day when I can think of Robert Parry, “I knew him when…”. Best of luck to him and I cannot wait to get around to reading his previous work, The Virgin and The Crab, as well as anything else he has in that creative mind of his.


Filed under 2011 Reviews, Anne Boleyn, Robert Parry, Tudor, Victorian

>Book Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling (Book 4 in Lady Julia Grey series) by Deanna Raybourn


Dark Road to Darjeeling (Book 4 in Lady Julia Grey series) by Deanna Raybourn
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Mira (first published September 17th 2010)
ISBN0778328201 (ISBN13: 9780778328209)
series Lady Julia #4

After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia’s eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly-widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband’s family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband’s death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.

This newest release in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series was released in October 1, 2010 by MIRA and helped to introduce Deanna Raybourn to book reviewers through MIRA’s marketing efforts. I am one of those new fans of Deanna Raybourn, and I have reviewed book one and book two in the series here at The Burton Review.

Dark Road to Darjeeling begins with Julia traipsing through India at the behest of two of her siblings, Portia and Plum. Her new husband, Nicholas Brisbane, and she are already at odds with each other. The stories leading up to their relationship are found in the previous novels, and the charm of the duo would be immediately lost on a reader who started the series with this book. The book could be a stand alone novel though, but as with all series, it is best to start with the beginning for continuity’s sake. Even though I read book one and two, I had to skip three and keep it on my wishlist and was forced to begin book four because there are dozens of folks ahead of me in the wishlist queue.

Book three, Silent on the Moor, had Brisbane and Julia marrying, which was a surprise to learn when starting book four, and I was sorry I missed it. Besides that, book four seemed to picked up where I had left off, which shows talented storytelling for a series. I was once again immersed in Lady Julia’s world and I enjoyed this story very much as she explored the tea making estate where her friend Jane’s husband had been killed. Freddie was bitten by a snake, but it should not have been life threatening, and he left behind Jane with his unborn child. If it was a boy, the inhabitants of the estate would be in an uproar. But could these family members have killed Freddie for the inheritance?

The story in book four did not seem as witty and full of mirth as book two (my favorite), but it was still charming, fun and worthwhile. The who-dun-it mystery itself unwrapped slowly and I enjoyed the characterization of the new characters and the eccentricities of those that appeared in the story. Even though Brisbane and Julia were married by this time, I appreciated the way the author showed the relationship as one that was still learning and developing, and the sparks still flew. Raybourn’s first person writing for Julia made me feel like I was having a long conversation with a best friend and I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Julia’s world. I am completely sold on this author, and I will be happy to spend money on her next books and the book three that I have missed.


Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Deanna Raybourn, Victorian

>Book Review: Silent in the Sanctuary (Book 2 in the Lady Julia Grey series) by Deanna Raybourn


Book two in the Lady Julia Grey Mysteries

Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey Series #2) by Deanna Raybourn
January 2008 MIRA Books
560 pages
ISBN: 978-7783-2492-8
This book was purchased by me
The Burton Review Rating:4.5 stars!

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 houseguests… 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.

Deanna Raybourn is a new favorite author for me. After reading the first book in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series, I immediately started book two, Silent in the Sanctuary. I am a fan of mysteries, and of wit and charm and the good old fashioned type of romances. And Raybourn delivers that for me with her star character of Lady Julia Grey. Written with a clever slant on the sarcasm in first person, I really came to like and admire Julia. And if I enjoyed reading Julia’s point of view, I also enjoyed the characteristics of Julia’s family just as much. The author gives herself a wide berth with many aunts and siblings; ones who disappear in the night and another brother who flirts ferociously with a lady who is already betrothed.

Along with the eclectic family members, Lady Julia has several house guests at her father’s estate, lovingly called the Abbey. The place was almost as much of a character in the novel in this book as the murder and the mysteries all occur at the Abbey during a “house party”. I loved how the author blended in the Abbey’s history and the monks who once lived there into the story. Clergyman Lucian Snow is found murdered, but could it really have been done by Julia’s meek cousin Lucy? Once again, the sexy sleuth Brisbane from book one appears, and widowed Julia partners with him to solve the mystery. Can Julia separate business from pleasure, or will she let jealousy over Brisbane’s recent engagement cloud her vision?

For book one to book two comparison, I found book two to be even better than the first. I felt a lot more in tune to Julia this time around, and I really enjoyed the entire story which encompassed several small themes and kept me intrigued throughout. This is a series that I do hope ends up with a long line of titles, because I am reading each one of them!

Since MIRA has issued book four in the series, Dark Road to Darjeeling this October, many readers are picking that up and reading Raybourn for the first time. I do like the new style of the cover for the new book, but I definitely think that the previous book covers from MIRA were more appropriate. I am so glad that MIRA’s marketing efforts turned me on to this author, and even more glad that I have given myself the time to read book one (Silent in the Grave, click for my review) and two before jumping into the newest release. Book three is Silent on The Moor and I have that on my wishlist. Raybourn has also penned another mystery this year (The Dead Travel Fast), though it is unrelated to the Lady Julia Grey series. If you like mysteries along with an intriguing character list garnished with a dash of romance, you really need to pick up these Lady Julia Grey books. Stay tuned for the review of book four, Dark Road to Darjeeling!


Filed under 2010 Review, Deanna Raybourn, Victorian

>Book Review: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn


Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (book 1 of 4 in Lady Julia Grey series)
Mass Market Paperback, 511 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Mira (first published 2006)
Purchased for my own enjoyment
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars of Five

“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward’s death was due to a longstanding physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband’s murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward’s demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

This is an amusing mystery genre story that is set in Victorian England. Lady Julia Grey is a very likable character who winds up with the mystery of her husband’s death on her conscience, although the esteemed family doctor ruled Edward’s death as a natural one. When Julia finds evidence to the contrary, she partners with Nicholas Brisbane to discover the murderer. The developments of their findings are not the only subject at hand, as Julia comes to grips with her new widowed state and the confused relationship with Brisbane; of which you are just waiting for it to turn romantic.

One of the best parts of the story was the nature of Lady Julia’s own family and her servants. She is one of many siblings who are all a wonderfully eclectic group. We’ve got a lesbian in the family as well as an aunt who is affectionately called “The Ghoul”. The Queen’s raven was stolen and winds up at Lady Julia’s house as winnings at a card game of the younger brother. Among several intriguing themes are the darkness of gypsies and the taint of prostitution which overshadow the case. I enjoyed that there was an unabashed style of wit throughout the story and that there was quite a blend of scandals in the story.

Raybourn’s writing style quickly drew me into Lady Julia’s world, and the fact that she is a native Texan could have blown me over with a feather. There was no trace of a southern attitude and I would have wagered the author had to have been a born and bred Englishwoman. I must say that the last half of the book moved quicker than the first and may have even been a bit predictable, but it was an enjoyment in entirety for me. I think readers who enjoy Georgette Heyer’s Regency mysteries would also enjoy this Victorian mystery as they mirror the same tone and pace, though Raybourn’s writing exudes more of a modern stance. Upon finishing this book I immediately set about to read book two in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series, Silent in the Sanctuary. Book three is Silent in the Moor, and book four, Dark Road to Darjeeling, is out October of 2010.


Filed under 2010 Review, Deanna Raybourn, Victorian