After nearly being killed herself while apprehending her husband’s killer, Lady Julia Grey is off to Italy to join her brothers Lysander and Plum for a little bit of R&R and a lot of sightseeing and culture immersion. They end up staying until just before Christmas when Father calls them home for the holidays and to give Ly a proper scolding for eloping with an Italian. To break the ice, they’ve invited their special friend Alessandro, with his good looks, impeccable English, and perfect manners. Julia’s geared up for a relatively quiet holiday at home until Brisbane shows up with a guest of his own, widowed Mrs. King, his fiancee. Enter two poor cousins, one slimy curate, and a handful or other oddball guests, and the jolly, yet dysfunctional party at Bellmont Abbey is almost complete. All that’s needed is a dead body.
I am really enjoying this series, and the writing’s just as good in this one. I’m relishing words like peccadilloes and apoplexy and Lothario- some so deliciously fun to say that I’m at times unknowingly mouthing them and very intentionally feeling them come off my tongue. A part of me wishes we still spoke that way and all of me wishes I had that commanding range of vocabulary. This is not a bad thing, but the second book in the Lady Julia Grey series reads more like a whodunit, with several new characters with whom to become acquainted, track, and suspect. Julia is duh-vine as always – fashionable, obstinate, and sometimes irreverent. There are two girl power moments to cheer where all of that new-found self-awareness and empowerment comes out. There are also tender encounters between Julia and Brisbane that struck me with happiness and triggered sweet, gratifying sighs. And as a good mystery should be, all of my guesses for whodunit were wrong. *Smile* I’m already reading the third installment.