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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn

Title: The Dark Enquiry
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Pages: 392
ISBN:  9780778312376
How I Read It: Paperback purchased by me.
My Rating: 5 Crowns!

Synopsis: The spirits speak of secrets…
Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London.  But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets, and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane’s private enquiry business.

Among the more unlikely clients: Julia’s very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case.  Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved – if eccentric – family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Ghost Club, where the alluring Madame Seraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall.  From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall.  For Bellmont’s sake – and more – they’ll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep…

My Review: The latest installment of the Lady Julia series is perhaps the most thrilling yet.  As is the case with all the others, I had a very hard time putting this one down and read it in a couple of days.  I’m always dying to know what kind of trouble Julia will get herself into, and what her crazy family will do next!

Now that Julia and Brisbane are married, the romantic tension between them has dissipated and has been replaced by the professional gap that currently exists.  Julia naturally wants to be more involved in her husbands work, as it fascinates her and she feels a sense of purpose while helping investigate along with him.  Yet she still has a very competitive nature, and can’t seem to set that aside when it comes to something potentially dangerous, a frustration both Brisbane and I share.

This novel started out with what seemed like a pretty simple investigation, and I was fascinated by how complex it became as the plot progressed.  What seems like a simple “fix this situation for Bellmont” turns into something quite sinister, and the entire thing seemed so believable I wouldn’t be surprised to see an actual historical account of something similar.

Most of our favorite characters are back in this one, including Portia, Plum, and even a small appearance from Valerius.  I am enamored of Julia’s siblings, and anything involving them makes me happy.  Portia is settling into motherhood, and she’s at a bit of a loss at times.  Plum, who I find quite dashing, finally manages some romantic interest, and I wish there had been more about it in there!  In fact, as much as I love the Julia books, it would be awesome if Deanna Raybourn would do some spinoffs with Julia’s siblings.

The stakes are raised in this one for all our main characters, with Julia’s “leap before you look” attitude proving more dangerous than they have in previous novels.  She knows just enough to get into trouble, but isn’t cautious enough to get out of it, which is as exciting as it always is!

Definitely don't start reading five books in, but if you haven't picked this series up yet, what are you waiting for? 

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