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REVIEW: Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Dear Ms. Raybourn,

077832614401lzzzzzzzAfter reading the second book in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series last year (I’ve since bought but still not read book one) and quickly learning that there was to be a third book, I was eagerly anticipating it. And bless you, you didn’t let me down when I pulled out our copy and dove into it. Murder, death, investigations and sticky situations abound as Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane circle each other like wary cats. Will they finally get their HEA? Frankly I did wonder.

Book two, Silent in the Sanctuary, left Lady Julia planning on how to crash the decorating party at Nicholas’ newly purchased estate on the Yorkshire Moors. He’d asked her sister, Lady Portia, to assist him but specifically ordered Portia not to tell Julia about it. Which didn’t stop Julia from discovering what was afoot. Now she and Portia, along with their youngest brother Valerius who was ordered by their father to accompany the two young widows, are headed, along with two maids, three pets and innumerable trunks and bags, into the hamlet of Lesser Howlet. The two ladies think they’ve reached the back of beyond until they finally make their way to Grimsgrave Manor. It is at that point that they know they’ve finally reached it.

Dank, dark and depressing about cover the adjectives needed to describe Brisbane’s new home. Julia and Portia are appalled. When they discover that the ladies left from the noble family that formerly owned the estate are still there and living on Brisbane’s charity, they are taken slightly aback. But Lady Allenby and her eldest daughter, Ailith, seem pleasant enough, even if they’re fixated on their ancient lineage while the youngest daughter, Hilda, strikes the March sisters as gauche.

It doesn’t take long for the ghosts to be stirred up, the secrets hidden in the house to begin to rise and the wuthering to loom over the windswept moors. Death has been done and unless Brisbane and Julia watch their steps more will follow. But can they uncover the murderer in time or will evil win the day?

As with “Sanctuary,” “Moor” slowly unfolds the story, gently leaving clues for the reader to pick up, turn over, contemplate and fit into the puzzle. Everything isn’t laid out in order and some things will be mentioned early in the book which will play a role much later on. And it isn’t just the actions of the living which influence the story but also of those long dead. The sins of the fathers do come back to haunt the next generation in this story.

I couldn’t help but think of Emily Bronte’s sole work of fiction while reading “Moor.” It’s set in Yorkshire, has a half-gypsy hero, there is madness and death, with angelic/demonic characters. Outsiders, including me, are horrified at what goes on there yet it makes a kind of sick, twisted sense.

Only one of the secondary characters will die by the end of the story yet there are old murders and deaths which Julia and Brisbane will solve or uncover before the madness finally ends. I had half guessed what the ultimate horror would be yet my mind still sought other possibilities to account for what Julia discovers. It’s just too awful. Yet it also brought to mind a degree of the ghastliness that has been front page news for the past year as well as ancient practices carried out in the society studied by the now dead Allenby heir.

One thing that did annoy me slightly is the fact that Brisbane and Julia are hardly together for the first 150 or so pages. And when they are finally together, it’s mainly so that Brisbane can hold Julia at arms length or order her to leave. It was only after Brisbane’s gypsy aunt gave Julia some sound words of advice that I finally settled down wait the relationship out.

It saddened me to see two relationships that didn’t work out in the story. I agree with Julia that it will take great courage for Hilda to strike out on her own yet I applaud her for doing so. She’ll finally get what she really wants and that’s to get away from the Moors and the memory of her family. What happens to poor Portia is just devastating. As Brisbane said, he regarded them as the happiest couple he knew yet not even all Portia’s money and influence can stand against society and what Jane feels she wants more than love.

It delights me that you can manage this series so as not to give away what happens in either of the first two. And though I think it helps to have read them so as to gain a greater appreciation for the characters, it is not necessary. New readers can start with this book and work their way back just fine.

Is this the end of the journey for Julia and Brisbane? If yes, I feel it’s a great trilogy that ties up most, though not all, of the plot threads and character arcs. If no, then I’ll look forward to watching these two in action again as well as revisiting the eccentric March family. And I hope that Brisbane does replace that lovely lavender and lace corset on the front cover. B+

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in trade paperback from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

The Sony Store is selling The Lady Julia Grey Bundle which are all three books for $13.96. Given that Silent on the Moor is a trade paperback, that’s essentially getting three books for the price of one.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

25 Comments

  1. Angie
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:10:18

    *snort* Oh, I’m sure he’ll replace the corset. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. I had a grand time reading it and, like you, thought it could have ended the whole thing nicely but am glad there’s a fourth one in the works!

  2. Marsha
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:16:05

    Oh, how I adored the last two books and have looked forward to more of Lady Julia and Brisbane. Thanks for this review, Jayne – you’ve captured everything I’d hoped this installment would be.

    And? Poor Portia! I’m surprised by this turn of events – her relationship seemed such a nice counterpoint to Julia’s maybe-maybe not thing with Brisbane. I hope we at least find her o.k. and moving forward by the end of the book. I couldn’t have a Portia-related loose end.

  3. Lizzy
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:35:37

    Huzzah! I’ve really enjoyed the first two books, but haven’t read this one yet. I’m looking forward to it. I hope it’s not the end, as I like all the characters very much.

  4. Jana J. Hanson
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:41:49

    Like I need another book on my TBR pile, but I love this cover. Am searching the public library for her now…which they do not have. Interlibrary loan, here I come!

    ETA: I cannot spell! Book 1 in my library holds.

  5. Jayne
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:41:54

    Oh, there’s a book four? Wonderful. I wasn’t sure. And Brisbane certainly has enough money to replace that corset.

  6. Jayne
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:45:21

    SLIGHT SPOILER

    And? Poor Portia! I'm surprised by this turn of events – her relationship seemed such a nice counterpoint to Julia's maybe-maybe not thing with Brisbane. I hope we at least find her o.k. and moving forward by the end of the book. I couldn't have a Portia-related loose end.

    Yes, I was sorry to see this happen. And poor Portia is just crushed. Maybe book four will provide a resolution to their problem.

  7. Jayne
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 13:47:29

    but I love this cover.

    The previous ones were nice too but I think they’ve entirely redone both of them to go with this new one. Which is lovely, I agee!

  8. Sandy D.
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 14:04:28

    I found myself guessing that Portia’s story would be a focus in the next book. And I was a little disappointed in the character development and the relationship between Brisbane and Julia in this book. I thought it was better than in the last book, but still not as great as it was in the first book.

    Jayne, you really *should* read the first book. I thought it was amazing, and so much better than no. 2 & 3 (an A vs. a B book, for me).

  9. jmc
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 14:18:37

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I’ve read the first two. I’ve been feeling rather ambivalent about the new cover art. The original cover art suited the mysteries of the books, and seemed rather Victorian to me, matching the setting. (Not that I know anything about Victorian art.) The new covers seem…kind of generic to me, and a lot more “romance-y” than the books themselves actually are. Not that they are bad, though.

    I don’t know. Is it foolish to ponder stuff like that and let it keep me from buying a copy of the new book?

  10. Angie
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 14:31:51

    He does indeed. Yes, she has stated on her blog that this is not the last Lady Julia Grey book and that she is working on the fourth one. It will be out sometime after her new standalone The Dead Travel Fast comes out next year.

  11. MaryK
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 14:52:29

    @jmc:

    The new covers seem . . . a lot more “romance-y” than the books themselves actually are.

    Huh. It just sunk in, after reading the comments, that this is a mystery series. Had to go back up to the top and double-check. So, yeah, I was thrown by the romancey cover.

    I read a variety of genres, but I’m getting tired of other genres using cover art to play on my romance reading tendencies. Because they rarely follow through on the expectations promised by the cover.

    ETA: Sorry for the rant. I understand the marketing problems associated with covers. It’s just that they are advertising, and I like a little truth in my advertising.

  12. LauraJane
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 15:45:12

    I love this series and I’m glad you read it. I hope you’ll enjoy the first book. It’s wonderful.

    One thing that did annoy me slightly is the fact that Brisbane and Julia are hardly together for the first 150 or so pages. And when they are finally together, it's mainly so that Brisbane can hold Julia at arms length or order her to leave. It was only after Brisbane's gypsy aunt gave Julia some sound words of advice that I finally settled down wait the relationship out.

    I agree. Part of me was pleased that I wasn’t sure if Julia and Nicholas would get together, but a larger part of me wanted more. Their scenes together are so terrific, it seems a shame to keep them separated when they’re living in the same house.

    I love Julia’s family. I hope we see more of them in the fourth book, which will probably be out 2011. I can’t imagine we’ve seen the end of Portia and Jane. Well, I hope we haven’t.

  13. carolyn jean
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 16:02:57

    I’m reading the first book, Silent in the Grave, and LOVING it. It’s so wonderfully written! Glad to see you like this one.

    Ooh, ooh, just saw a spoiler above. Living in the same house? What?

  14. Sylvie Fox
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 16:58:35

    Gosh, the second book is deep into the TBR pile. Maybe I should give it a chance . . . .

  15. orannia
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 17:55:10

    Thank you Jayne!

    As with “Sanctuary,” “Moor” slowly unfolds the story, gently leaving clues for the reader to pick up, turn over, contemplate and fit into the puzzle.

    And that’s why I love this book. I’m not a massive first person fan, but Deanna Raybourn’s writing always makes it feel very….effortless.

    Am rapt to hear that there is a fourth book. I just love Julia’s family – the game near the end of Sanctuary with the children is hilarious!

  16. Jayne
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 17:55:12

    Jayne, you really *should* read the first book. I thought it was amazing, and so much better than no. 2 & 3 (an A vs. a B book, for me).

    I'm reading the first book, Silent in the Grave, and LOVING it. It's so wonderfully written! Glad to see you like this one.

    I know, I know! I should read it and have heard from so many sources that it’s wonderful. But it’s hard to justify going back to read a 2 year old book when I have all these new releases staring me in the face. On the other hand, we get to read and review what we want here so maybe later this year I’ll pull out my e-copy.

  17. Jayne
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 17:58:50

    Re: Lady Julia’s family – I enjoy them too and was glad that – aside from Portia – we got to meet some different ones in this book than were in the second one. I do wish their father had been in this book a little more though.

  18. Shel
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 10:15:44

    I have enjoyed all three books so much. I glad there’s a forth one coming so I don’t have to say goodbye. But…2011, so long to wait!

  19. Stephanie
    Mar 07, 2009 @ 09:41:35

    I’m glad to see this writer and this series getting so much attention. Has anyone at DA considered asking her for her First Sale story yet?

  20. votermom
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 09:40:08

    I just read this. I really liked the previous two novels, but I am disappointed in Brisbane in this one. He seemed to have turned into some kind of Heathcliff/Rochester figure. Julia also seems slightly out of character — I don’t like how she lets Brisbane constantly yell at her and treat her roughly.

    I do like the book overall, just not as much as the first two.

    I am hoping to see a Portia / new woman relationship in the future.

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  23. Suria Vásquez
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 12:37:49

    Hola, Soy Suria, Vivo en México y me eh enamorado de la historia de Julia Grey y Brisbane, eh leido los dos primeros pero en Mexico no han llagado aun los ultimos dos, alguien puede ayudarme para encontrar una pagina en donde pueda descargar los ultimos, no importa que sea esten en idioma ingles.
    Saludos***

  24. Jayne
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 12:58:02

    @Suria Vásquez: Hola, Suria. There are several places to buy these books including a bundle of the first three novels at the Harlequin website. The fourth book hasn’t been released just yet.

    http://www.ebooks@eharlequin . com

  25. suria vasquez
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 10:32:39

    @Jayne: Gracias Jaen, hare mi pedido y espero y me lo puedan enviar a México, el cual ah sido el problema, pues muchas librerias que distribuyen esta editorial no surten a México, por eso lo pedia en linea o en .pdf o word, los dos anteriores ya los tengo en español inclusive.
    Mil gracias y saludos***

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