Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

28 Mar
Oh Deanna Raybourn, how much do I love thee? If I could dream up an author to write the smart, funny, gothic, romantic mysteries my soul craves, it would be Ms. Raybourn. Every book she writes just tickles me to bits. I’ve read her Lady Julia Grey series, oh, three times now, I think? It’s the ultimate comfort read for me – exciting, atmospheric, clever, and full of fascinating interactions between two of my favorite main characters ever: the persistent Lady Julia Grey and the prickly Nicholas Brisbane.

Silent on the Moor is the third book (of five, I believe) in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series. In a fit of frustration that my library is woefully lacking in mysteries I actually want to read, I turned to an old favorite to soothe. I love them all, but this one in particular has certain romantic quandaries coming to a head, which makes the romantic in me sigh. Though you could read this as a stand-alone, I really recommend starting out with the first two in the series, Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary, before starting this one. Trust. You’ll enjoy it even more.

In Silent on the Moor, Julia and Brisbane are separated by distance and uncertainty; after being thrown together by events and solving two crimes, the difference in their social standings, backgrounds, and experiences continues to be a wedge. What’s not uncertain is how they feel about each other: they LURVE each other, but aren’t quite sure where the other stands and how they could make a life together work. There’s the emotional background; as far as plot, Brisbane has come into ownership of a decrepit estate called Grimsgrave on an English moor, very Wuthering Heights-ish. Julia has decided that she needs to force him to confront what they are to each other and travels to his estate with her sister Portia, brother Valerius, and various dogs and maids in tow. Once there, she finds Brisbane a wilder, more tortured version of himself who simultaneously pushes her away while pulling her close. Also in residence are the remaining former owners of the estate: wild child Hilda, ethereally beautiful Ailith, and their elegant mother Lady Allenby. Something is clearly not right with the members of this household, and Julia must delve into Brisbane’s secret past, acquire Egyptological knowledge, ingratiate herself with the various Allenbys, and protect herself and those she loves from bodily harm.

I am a huge fan of the gothic novel, and I love how Raybourn manages to create that eery, moody atmosphere, complete with windswept moors and mysterious locals. Julia and Brisbane are always themselves and remarkably consistent – Raybourn can plunk them down in any situation and you absolutely believe how they react and behave. I adore the relationship Julia has with her various brothers and sisters – so snarky but loving. Portia is a personal favorite, and the secondary story about Portia and her lover Jane is heart-breaking. And lest you think the gothic aspect overwhelms the narrative, there are lovely moments of comic relief supplied by Julia’s grouchy former-prositute-turned-ladies-maid Morag and the repugnant dog Puggy. And Julia and Brisbane…le sigh. Let’s just say that the chemistry is through the roof, and there’s a particularly satisfying ending to this one. Truly, there’s so much going on in this novel, and the series as a whole, that I can’t begin to put into words how satisfying it is. If you don’t like it, well, I’m not sure we can be friends. 🙂

Note: I had to be shallow and upload the alternate cover image here (I think it’s for the UK version?). Truth be told, after the first two books in the series, someone in marketing got a little cray cray and decided to use a much more bodice-ripper type cover. It’s not at all reflective of the contents of the book, so I’m going with this more attractive version.

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