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Silent in the Sanctuary
Lady Julia Grey series #2

by Deanna Raybourn

      The highest compliment a reviewer can offer a writer's work is to say that upon reading one book, they immediately rushed out and bought whatever else they could find by that author! Deanna Raybourn inspires that kind of reader excitement and enthusiasm. This book, the second in her Lady Julia Grey series, is as wonderful as the first. (Silent in the Grave)

On so many levels, this book is both a clever look at Victorian morés and a scathingly funny approach to mystery and romance. Ms. Raybourn doesn't pull any punches in being sure we understand the strength and dynamism of the protagonist and her extended British (OH so British!) family. Lady Julia is in line with other strong Victorian women mystery characters, such as Amelia Peabody of Elizabeth Peters' series, or Robin Paige's Kate Sheridan, or Anne Perry's Charlotte Pitt. For some reason the Victorian period seems to generate strong fictional characters, and as readers, we are blessed by that fact.

Continuing with the characters in the first book, Lady Julia meets up once again with heartthrob and irritating male protagonist, Nicholas Brisbane. Although they ended their first case successfully, they are as oil and water to one another, and the interplay (foreplay?) between them keeps the reader both entertained and enthralled. The story begins in Italy, the Lake Como district, but the characters soon return to the family estate, a 700-year-old former Cistercian monastery, just in time for the Christmas festivities. Julia is dismayed to find Nick already in residence. The many twists and witty hooks in the story keep you engrossed until the last page, and leave you scrabbling for more. The more traditional elements - parental approval of marriages, the interaction between servants and the family, houseguests, (both welcome and unwelcome) - and the backdrop of Victorian England are given a facelift by Deanna Raybourn. Characters are defined not only by their position in society and their family, but by their personal idiosyncrasies, which make them believable and likable. If you haven't yet read the first title in the series, get it now! Lady Julia Grey's family alone is worth the price of admission.

Deanna's background is as interesting as her character's. A sixth-generation Texan, she struggled with 14 years of rejection slips before getting a publisher for Silent in the Grave. Now living in Virginia, she has completed book three in the series, which is scheduled for a January 2009 publication date. All her first efforts were aimed at the romance market; it was only when she decided to bring the Victorian mystery element to her writing that she found her niche - or one of them! She has said that her fourth book will not be part of this series, feeling the need to experiment with some new characters.

If you love the concepts of Victorian mysteries, ghosts, and family skeletons, with gothic overtones and a biting wit, you will love Deanna Raybourn's work. Enjoy!

The Book

January 2008
Trade Paperback
Historical Mystery (Victorian)
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The Reviewer

Laura Strathman Hulka
Reviewed 2008
© 2008