Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess!
I requested to participate in the Book Blast as a way to celebrate my love of the #LadyDarby series! I had originally thought this was a bonefide blog tour and Ms Bruno helped me get into touch with the author Ms Huber. I was truly blessed as the author and publisher surprised me with a complimentary bound manuscript copy of ‘As Death Draws Near’ of which will be alighting on my blog in short order, as I’ve spent the past week reading and blogging my ruminative thoughts on behalf of the series! Today I am sharing my joy of the series overall, leading up to my final review for the #LadyDarby series thus far published in print!
Why I originally wanted to read the Lady Darby series:
I, must admit, it’s wicked delightful to find such a riveting Cosy Historical Mystery series – for me, personally one of the attractions to reading the Lady Darby series is the Gothic undertones, the lush settings of its locales in the Highlands of Scotland, but moreso to the point for me is the style of how the stories are being penned! They are blissfully written without the blights of vulgarity and at the heart of the stories, is this beautifully engaging romance between two determinedly independent lead characters: Lady (Kiera) Darby and Mr (Sebastian) Gage!
I was smitten about the series at first glance – when I first read the synopsis for The Anatomist’s Wife, I had suspicion right then & there that I would be soon treated to a series that would capture my mind & heart! There was simply something about it – the premise was such a curiously refreshing spin on the genre’s offerings!
I was wicked happy when I caught sight of these lovelies at my local library – as I truly did read this series by borrowing the books whilst blogging my thoughts upon them! It was a blessing to finally give back the love I had originally captured through reading about Lady Darby two years ago – if I could inspire new readers to take a chance on this series, the circle was truly complete for me! One of the things that stands out immediately is how Huber crafts the continuity of the series – in each installment, you gather small pieces or clues you will find re-occur or become more important in successive stories in sequence! She knits together such a finely envisioned series, you cannot help but spend time inside the breadth of what she’s left behind for us to enjoy!
As Death Draws Near Book Blast (Series Notes)
Subtitle: A Lady Darby Mystery
by Anna Lee Huber
July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.
Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.
Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end…
Places to find the book:
on 5th July, 2016
The Lady Darby Mysteries:
The Anatomist’s Wife | No.1 | (see Review)
Mortal Arts | No.2 | (see Review)
A Grave Matter | No.3 | (see Review)
A Study in Death | No.4 | (see Review)
A Pressing Engagement | No.4.5 (e-novella) | Synopsis
As Death Draws Near | No.5 | Synopsis | Happy #PubDay 5th of July, 2016
Published By: Berkley Prime Crime (@BerkleyMystery)
imprint of Berkley Publishing (@BerkleyPub)
via Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom)
When I first drew myself into the world of Lady Darby, I was mesmorised by what I was finding inside the series – as here we had such a lively and smart-minded independent woman who had the uncanny knack for sleuthing out the truth behind the most heinously conceived crimes! At least, this is how the series began, as the first crime scene we were privy to seeing revealled included the double-loss of a Mum withchild. It was sombering and heart-wrecking at the time to even consider someone could be that deceitful to elude suspicion!
To see how Anna Lee Huber’s mind intersects with the historical presence of emerging forensic science and the notion of how to sleuth through an incomprehensible crime based on evidential support! The way in which Huber allows you to absorb into Lady Darby’s world is all-encompassing – from both a sensory level of aesthetics within this setting in the Highlands to the atmospheric nature writ into the undertone presence of a Historical Thriller – it’s Cosy on behalf of how Huber pulls back the grislier bits of the crime scene & of the investigation – as this is definitely an intellectual mystery to solve (not only on behalf of Lady Darby, but for the reader, too!) with key components cross-secting genres of interest under the main umbrella of Crime & Suspense.
I personally felt attached to this world in such a heart-centred way due to how Huber personified Lady Darby and how she made her character’s journey one that you could fuse your empathy inside most directly! It isn’t a hard concept to understand what Lady Darby is going through – both privately and publicly – to overcome humiliation and an unjust prejudiced response from her peers, is psychologically difficult but it is also a hard hit to one’s psyche. How to trust when nothing feels life will ever be normal again!? Huber takes you through all the lens of supposition and grants you the liberty of seeing how Lady Darby herself chooses to not become the victim of public shame but rather a strong contributor towards understanding the criminal mind behind crimes even inquiry agents have difficulty in solving.
-quoted from my review of The Anatomist’s Wife
To move into the next chapter of Lady Darby’s life was a happy moment for me, as she had laid her heart quite bare inside the first story – where she even was starting to consider her attraction to Mr Gage, irregardless of how imprudent that felt to her given her past history. She wasn’t yet ready to acknowledge that she too, had every right to feel inclined to love again but also, to be free to listen to her heart’s desires – despite her past and despite the public scorn cast against her!
Oh, dear my! I must say,…
The closer Kiera finds herself willing to give Gage the benefit of the doubt, she continues to learn the harder lesson in recognising that love might be unconditional but trusting a person who keeps secrets in order to best accomplish to his job is something she’d have to make peace with if she could ever hope to move past all of Gage’s omissions. Whether or not Gage even realised the heartache he was inflicting on her or not, is not as important as when he fully understood why if he wasn’t careful, he’d soon cross a line that would divide them apart once and for all. For all the background in this installment, it’s a finely wrought heartache of a love story emerging between two lead characters who never felt they could find a partner who would understand them. They each in turn had their quirks, their faults and such fiery determined grit to be ‘right moreso than wrong’ that it’s a wonderment they could draw out a relationship with a buoyancy of mutual respect but this is what fascinates you to read the winding path Lady Darby and Gage are taking towards becoming a couple! Their path is fraught with obstacles – except it’s how they re-convene and re-establish their connection each time they leave each other in haste that draws out the potential for a long-standing union.
-quoted from my review of Mortal Arts
My favourite story in regards to seeing how Kiera and Gage could finally move past their difficulties in joining together – not only as a working partnership but as a romantic couple, would have to be A Grave Matter as this is where we start to see just how deeply they care for each other, irregardless if they were able to truly express the hows and whys!
Now if only these two could be more on point to disclose their feelings for one another,…
Ha! And, then, Huber delivers such a wicked lovely thread of emotional reactions between my two favourite co-leads, as to make this installment such a sweetened joy to read! I love how Huber has written Mr Gage with such a fierce strength inside him equal to the quieter strength she’s given to Lady Darby; they are such strongly complimented individuals, that whenever they are about to explode into a row against each other, you know the greater truth is that they are each madly in love with the other yet how to bridge their two worlds together is the one quirk that keeps them separated! Aye! Scottish ire and British stubbornness is a potboiler of honesty blurred a bit by the emotions of two characters who are used to being placed onto paths neither of them wants to live. That is also their best bond to each other – not wanting to live the life someone else chooses for them, but rather to pick a partner who loves them without it conditioned to a contract to exchange wealth.
-quoted from my review of A Grave Matter
I was quite motivated at this point to continue forward in the series, as I felt Huber had justified not only the slow paced progress of pairing Lady Darby with Mr Gage, but the way in which all of their activities were closely tied to family & the obligations of being in need of their loved ones at any point in time. For Mr Gage, it was under obligatory presumption he would humour his father Lord Gage with his appearances but for Lady Darby, she truly appreciated the hours she spent with her nieces & nephews whilst under consul by her older sister Alana and her husband Philip.
I also appreciated seeing the added benefit of being in company with her brother Trevor, as he rounded out the back-story on what fused the siblings together. They had such an incredible breadth of story knitted out around the events Lady Darby was subjected too by her previous husband but also, by the imperiously hard to understand motives of their father! This installment gave way to understanding everything that was not readily known by all parties and granted them a measure of healing towards letting the past lie in the past.
The hardest story in the series by far for me to read thus far has been A Study in Death:
This story was a bit bittersweet for me – although, I will always champion the progress of Sebastian & Kiera knitting their lives together and sorting out how it is they want to lead a close-knit married life, what bothered me a bit the most is how certain things were left remiss. I had gone into reading this story with the newfound realisation I wouldn’t be treated to the wedding, but then, imagine my shock when I saw that originally the wedding was the last paragraph of the last chapter!? A blink of an inclusion and not very telling in that!? I nearly mused if that was written as if this was originally the last Lady Darby story, as it was so final and had such finality to it – almost as if there wasn’t a future!?
Such heavy emotions reading this story – as your anguished if Kiera and Gage will sort out their misunderstandings – those two take the long walk round a mountain to sort everything out! Whilst at the same time your questioning why Alana’s health was put in such dire straits and why Philip had to go through his bout of anxiety – although, these were very realistically true to life, it’s just hard to watch characters you’ve become very fond of suffer through such difficulties! And, of course, the story-line involving Lady Drummond was simply sad on all fronts. I daresay, I am hopefully curious that I shall find a classical return to the momentum of the previous installments as I move into As Death Draws Near, as I did find this was my least favourite of the ones I’ve read.
-quoted from my review of A Study in Death
Despite exiting the fourth novel with a mixture of feelings bubbling inside my mind, I must admit, I was quite eager to move forward into As Death Draws Near as part of what I was hoping to find inside the next volume was a small recapture of the wedding from A Pressing Engagement! I have been appreciating the way in which Huber continuously knits her continuity of inclusive details from one novel to the next, thus giving all readers a chance to happily reside in each story in sequence irregardless of time spent away from the series! If you could not read this series back-to-back like I have done or originally found yourself removed from the series for a period of time, (admittedly two years was a long time for me!) – you don’t have to fret about losing sight of the small details that you truly need to remember, as Huber happily reminds you!
You will find moments of heavy sorrow, immensely joyful reasons to smile and a cheeky bit of humour laced throughout the series, too! I even applauded how Kiera and Gage are presented, as their romance was quite hard-won in the end! They were such fiercely independent souls, that to even think they had a chance at a romance that led to happy nuptials is a miracle in of itself! I do agree with Philip (Lady Darby’s brother-in-law) it’s quite telling that two very private people could find a path out of their shared reserved states to embrace each other & learn to trust each other to such a degree of being wholly in love with the partnership they developed!
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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.
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