Monday, October 14, 2013

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH: Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber

Anna Lee Huber’s historical mystery romance series "A Lady Darby Mystery" is quite addictive. I recently read The Anatomist’s Wife and decided to just move right on to book two, Mortal Arts, while the characters and plot were still fresh in my memory. I’m glad that I did. Book two was as enjoyable a read as book one.

The protagonist, Kiera (Lady Darby), is on her way to Edinburgh with her pregnant sister and brother-in-law when their journey is interrupted. They detour to the manor of an old friend, Michael Dalmay, who is engaged to marry Kiera’s younger cousin. However, the wedding plans are in disarray. Michael’s older brother, Will, who happens to be Lord Dalmay, has returned to the family home after having been missing for ten years. Kiera thought he was dead, but in fact, he had been in an insane asylum.

Will Dalmay, many years older than Kiera, fought in the Napoleonic War and returned home with PTSD. Of course, it was not recognized or diagnosed as such in those days. His own father grew alarmed by his symptoms and had him locked away, secretly. It was not until after the death of the father that Michael was able to have his brother released.

Unfortunately, Will’s condition only worsened in the years of his confinement. There are rumors that he has become violent. And now a local girl has gone missing.

Fortuitously, Nicholas Gage is also a friend of Michael Dalmay’s, and he has been summoned to the manor as well, or so he says. Once again, Kiera and Gage join forces to solve a mystery. And once again, their own interpersonal struggles help and hinder the progress of the investigation. Kiera needs to be able to trust Gage, but he’s not completely honest with her. She needs to be able to trust Will, but Will doesn’t even completely trust himself.

The plot twists keep the book moving right along, but the development of the relationship is what makes the book most compelling. I’ll be looking for book three.

This is another book added to my historical fiction challenge, hosted by Historical Tapestry.