Pros: I’m not a historicals person, and I loved it
Cons: I’m not a historicals person…
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Expected release date: July 1, 2014
In 1830s Scotland, Lady Darby has just returned to her childhood home and her brother. Her period of rest is short-lived, however, as a ball is interrupted by news of a grave robbery–and a murder. Kiera has already faced scandal, and she knows that helping with such a ghoulish investigation won’t help her reputation any, but her anatomical knowledge is needed and she can’t bring herself to turn away. Inquiry agent Sebastian Gage arrives to help, which only makes things all the more confusing for Kiera, who can’t quite work out her feelings for him. For his part, Gage has found out that this grave robbery isn’t an isolated incident–and he has his own feelings for Kiera to work out.
Anna Lee Huber’s A Grave Matter (A Lady Darby Mystery) is a historical, a mystery, and a romance. I’m not typically a historicals fan; that means I can’t judge historical accuracy. However, I truly enjoyed the setting. Also, one of my problems with some of the historicals that I’ve read is that the women all too often fall into the feisty & reckless stereotype. I understand why; it’s difficult to come up with reasons why a woman wouldn’t be excluded in many historical investigations and machinations, and a quick fix for this is to make the woman so headstrong and stubborn that no one will get in her way. I much prefer Huber’s solution: Kiera is curious and dogged yet reasonable and responsible.
With respect to the romance, normally I’d get a bit fed up with the extent of the “but does he really love me?” agonizing Kiera does with respect to Gage. However, her background is such that while it’s still a little overwrought, it at least makes sense. I can fully understand why she’d have such trouble committing given how her last marriage went, and that’s nice. I always hate it when I want to smack the characters for being stupid, and that didn’t happen here. I got drawn in enough that there were some sniffles and tears toward the end of the book, which is a good sign!
The mystery was quite fascinating. There were a couple of points where I got a little confused, or it took a long time for a detail to get brought up again, by which time I had trouble remembering it. I wouldn’t say it was entirely smooth sailing, but it was very good. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.
As you can tell, there were tiny bits around the edges that kept the book from being perfect, but it was a great read! I would absolutely read more Lady Darby mysteries, despite the fact that it isn’t my usual milieu.