Okay, this isn’t an official trilogy, but since I’ve only read the first three books of this series and the third book would make a pretty tidy ending to the series, I’ll just call it that. I’m a little sad that the third book’s cover is so different than that of the first two books.
Lady Julia Grey is a classy lady. When we first meet her, in Silent in the Grave, it’s the night of her husband’s untimely death. She not only has to deal with her recent widowhood, but there’s also a crime that has happened and together with her new-found ally, Nicholas Brisbane, she has to get to the bottom of what exactly happened in her house.
Deanna Reybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series reads like a Jane Austen novel if Jane Austen wrote about characters that actually did something. The language and actions of the characters are timely with the setting, but still stand out as peculiar characters, especially Julia. She speaks her mind and is a bit more independent than the women around her, but she marginally fits in to the Victorian age.
Nicholas Brisbane as the romantic interest annoyed me in the first book, but that could just be the fault of clumsy character set up. In the first book, he’s almost too good to be true: knows many languages, makes the violin sing like an angel, is charming, handsome, has a majordomo named Thelonius Monk (or something like that), on and he’s pretty darn clever. He’s definitely more toned down in the next books in the series, which makes me like him more.
The only criticism I have about the series is the use of gypsies to further the plot along. Although Julia is supposed to be a modern (for her time) woman who’s forward thinking, there still seems to be a lot of prejudice against these people and the whole “having the sight” thing is a bit too supernatural in the story. The mystery would have done fine without it. Sure, some things would have been changed, but I think it’d make a stronger story without that deux ex machina stuck in all awkwardly.
Still, the Lady Julia Grey series is a wonderful set of books to curl up with on a rainy weekend. Each is a self-contained mystery, but after reading the first one, I liked the characters so much that I was eager to read the next book to see how they progressed. I liked that Brisbane’s story is revealed bit by bit throughout the books. What I liked most, is how Julia matures as a character in terms of her interaction with her own world as well as with her feelings for Brisbane. It makes me want to go back to the first book and read it over.