From the back cover: “Now thou art come unto a feast of death, A terrible and unavoided danger. I Henry VI
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 house guests...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.”
Lady Julia is enjoying Italy (and the attentions of her new friend Count Alessandro Fornacci) when the family back home gets wind of her brother’s impulsive marriage to Italian girl Violante and they are called back to England to spend Christmas with the family. Upon arriving Julia discovers that her father has invited everyone-her cousins Lucy and Emma and Lucy’s intended Sir Cedric, mad Aunt Dorcas, and much to her chagrin Nicholas Brisbane, the last man on earth she wants to see. To add to her dismay of finding Nicholas in attendance, he has brought along his fiancée Charlotte for everyone to meet. After one particularly nasty snow storm hits the group discovers that one of their party has been murdered. Julia’s father insists she team up with Brisbane again to solve the murder and the mystery and get to the bottom of a whole lot of other strange happenings. Who stole Julia’s priceless Grey Pearls? Who is the ghost that roams the hallways? Where has mad Aunt Dorcas gone off to? Who is Mariah Young, the woman from Brisbane’s past that he won’t talk about?
This second installment of the Lady Julia Grey books was every bit as good as the first one. There is plenty of action going on. Deanna Raybourn has a way of twisting a story around where the chapter you’re reading ends so unexpectedly that you go “WHAT?! I must keep reading!” The tension between Julia and Brisbane is palpable although I was a bit worried the romance between the two wasn’t going to advance much in this book (I was WRONG). I also had a sense from the beginning that Brisbane’s engagement was not real. Once you are introduced to Charlotte King in the book you know she is not the type of woman Brisbane would ever marry. I also like that as the series continues Julia comes into her own as the sassy independent woman you know she can be. Another great read from what is fast becoming one of my favorite series.
This book is from my own personal library