Mortal Arts (Lady Darby Mystery, #2)by Published 03 Sep 2013
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Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator—and romantic entanglement—Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.
Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother—and Kiera’s childhood art tutor—William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend—and save the marriage of another…
Mortal Arts (Lady Darby Mystery, #2) Reviews
This was a heartbreaking mystery (which, again, wasn’t very mysterious) featuring a strong h and a well developed cast of secondary characters. The suspense was good and the development of the relationship between the MCs continued to draw me in. There was no sex in this book (yay!) and no OP drama at all. The thing I probably appreciated the most about this book was that the h didn’t chase the H. She didn’t apologize for anything that wasn’t her fault and she wasn’t a doormat. I’m looking forward to what’s to come in this series.
Very creepy, with a master of an insane asylum gone rogue and a man who suffers from severe PTSD in the same area when a young lady disappears. It's a mostly clean mystery, with some mild period curses and some innuendo, along with moderate violence. I'll definitely be moving along to the third book in the series to see what else Kiera and Gage will be solving.
Once again Lady Kiera Darby is thrown into another inquiry this time dealing with her old friend and art teacher William Darby. William was thrown into an insane asylum by his evil father. The situation become even more dire when a local girl is killed and eyes turn to the still healing and troubled William.
With the aid of Sebastian Gage, Kiera set out to fight for the innocence of her beloved friend and find the turn killer.
As sequels go, this just blew the first book away. The story never slowed nor hinder which was my biggest complaint in LD #1. This was also a tad darker as it dealt with mental illnesses in a time where it was never understood as the individual was thrown into an asylum without a backward glance.
I felt poor Kiera was dealt even heavier personal blows this time around. She still has a dark cloud hovering over her from her disaster of a first marriage. With William she feels like he holds a part of her childhood with his kindness he showed a lonely young girl when she needed a friend to turn to.
Add to that is her confusion over her feelings with Gage who still is a mystery to her yet is showing another side to himself with his actions. Their developing relationship still intrigues me greatly that it leaves me wondering what path it'll take.
The mystery was not about the who. You knew who was behind it all, but the how and the why is the the driving force. The ending didn't have a truly HEA feel to it, but it did have one truly fitting.
I can't get enough of this series or Anna Lee Huber writing that I quickly picked up Lady Darby #3!
After reading The Anatomist's Wife, I couldn’t wait to rejoin Kiera and see what happened next to her. Naturally, another mystery presents itself to be uncovered, involving her childhood art tutor, who had been missing for nearly ten years.
I must admit I didn’t expect this but I appreciated Huber’s choice of dealing with mental illness (PTSD from war experience) in a time when it was totally misunderstood, and the horrors of quite a few contemporary insane asylum. The resulting narrative is pretty dark but also compelling. Once more, Kiera’s knowledge, past experiences, and especially her way of perceiving events and people is called to help save more than one person.
And what of Gage? Well, he is of course present, doing his usual ambivalent ‘dance routine' around Kiera, but really dealing with his own demons. For someone who comes across often quite badly, behaving in the entitled way men of standing did then, the author does hint at hidden depths.
And yes, I can’t help starting book 3 right now :O)
Well. What to say. Let's start with the good. Lady Kiera Darby is a heroine with an interesting backstory. She views the world in which she inhabits with a bit of an outsiders eye, and since the novel is written first person, hers is the only viewpoint we have. The setting (rambling family manse in Scotland) is interesting for the time period. No London high society setting, very different. The storyline/mystery: very high promise. What depravities might Kiera's tortured past art instructor be capable of? Who is hiding what and from whom as to his acts? Long suffering love interest with the enigmatic (or tries to be) Sebastian Gage.
Now, the reality. For all that the setting is the 1830's, the time period is not something that you are steeped in, no immersion. The language does not ring through as period correct. Kiera at one point exclaims, "there you go!" in response to a reason for motive. It read as something my daughter would say today. It could be anytime, anywhere, excepting the tossed in mentions on what may be "proper" or against "propriety" and the ad nauseum descriptions of Lady Darby's clothing. William could have been traumatized in any war, so vague is the feeling of time set. Again, while the mystery had plenty of moments of "oohh, so this is going to be good" it fizzled shortly in when you knew who was behind the murder mystery and had a good guess as to why. Now, this I can overlook. I cannot overlook the heroines propensity of hugging herself, Kiera is always "wrapping her arms about herself", her tendency to melodramatics, the manufactured "obstacle" that she and Gage must overcome.
Their developing "relationship" for lack of a better word, is trying to be enigmatic and on the heartbreaking side, two lovers held apart by circumstance. But the courtship of the two is all tepid looks and strange confidences, followed by cold silence and distance. Frustrating. And not in a good, shiver of expectation up your spine kind of way. More along the lines of what, exactly is keeping these two apart? There is no societal barrier, other than Kiera's infamy, and as Gage reeks of trade, it would be Kiera to "lose face" in society, if she had any at all.
The fact that she feels ostracized, or different, are brought to us only in her words. Never in the actions or words from another, unless blatantly obvious, a reminder of how loathed or mistrusted our heroine is supposed to be considered. There is little subtlety to the characters, again their feelings must be explained step by step by Kiera's analyzing of their words and facial expressions. The author could spin this in a much more likeable manner for me if I felt as though I just entered a pre-Victorian atmosphere, the characters had snappy, colorful dialog that allowed me to draw conclusions as to their actions and feelings, instead of in long descriptive paragraphs of the narrators "thoughts". This way of coming at the story works better with a third person narrative. I simply do not need to be inundated by the color of Kiera's "Prussian blue gown" when she is teetering on the precipice of a decrepit Scottish castle about to engage the enemy in a windy climax. Bad form indeed.