Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

54 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

Silent in the Grave is a charming little piece of mind candy. There’s nothing important or thought-provoking or deeply meaningful about it. It’s a historical mystery with quite a wide swath of romance thrown in. It’s purely escapist reading, and I loved it.

Lady Julia meets Nicholas Brisbane, private inquiry agent, over her husband’s nearly dead body when the man collapses at a party and dies shortly afterward. It turns out Brisbane is there because he’s been hired to investigate threats made against Sir Edward Grey. Lady Julia, an intelligent and bored aristocrat who is sad but not terribly grieved over her husband’s death, is more than ready to partner up with Brisbane in investigating Edward’s murder. This causes no end of hilarity and no end of conflict due to the fact that he’s a professional and she’s a novice. He is also deeply afraid that she’s going to get herself killed by bumbling along after criminals when she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Her enthusiasm for the case and his fear for her life pretty much carry the story for the next five books.

And yes, I did read all five back-to-back. I’m not ashamed. Okay, maybe I am a little ashamed. I did read all five, but I’m only going to count them as one in my reading challenge. They are light reading. I don’t have much more to say other than that they are clever little charmers.

And yes, of course Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane are enamored with one another. This is something of a conflict because she’s an aristocrat, and he’s half gypsy and barely accepted into society. It isn’t the entire conflict, however. They do have new mysteries to solve in each book, mysteries that have nothing to do with their romance with each other. In some ways, though, the romance is more convincing here than it is in actual romance novels. It takes them three books to declare their love and decide to get married, and that isn’t any kind of resolution because they spend the next two books having a difficult time figuring out how to be married to each other. Their relationship develops over time and is full of real challenges.

I like Lady Julia, and I like Brisbane. I like the supporting characters just as much. They are quirky and witty and make for interesting backdrops to our pair of sleuths.

Lady Julia is the daughter of an earl who shared dancing lessons with Queen Victoria as a child and who has as many eccentricities as well placed connections. The Earl March is a liberal-minded man who gives his married daughters allowances so that they will not have to kowtow to their husbands, yet at the same time he uses his money to keep tight control over his sons. Julia is one of ten children to this earl, and they all have some spark to their characters that make them live up to the family motto of “mad as a March hare.” They think the saying originated with their family.

If you want something funny and interesting that will not tax you in any way, and you happen to enjoy romantic mysteries set in Victorian England, here’s a series for you. I cannot emphasize enough that you should expect no more of it than the purest of fluff, but everybody needs a little fluff now and then, and I found this to be pure fluff of the funny and enjoyable variety.