My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Silent in the Sanctuary is the second novel in the Lady Julia Grey Chronicles by Deanna Raybourn, a delightful murder mystery series starring the equally delightful Lady Julia Grey.
The second novel begins with Lady Julia on vacation in Italy with two of her brothers, Plum and Lysander, their Italian friend Alessandro, and Lysander's new bride. However, their holiday is cut short when their father, the Lord March, commands that they return to England. Upon their arrival at Bellmont Abbey (the family home) they are surprised to learn that their father has arranged for an elaborate Christmas event for the family and their closest friends - including the dark and mysterious Nicholas Brisbane.
Despite the events of the first novel (Silent in the Grave) and the resulting distance and time apart, Lady Julia remains deeply fond of Mr Brisbane and believes that he feels the same of her in return. She is therefore shocked to learn of his apparent attachment to another woman, yet before she can come to terms with Brisbane's sudden change of heart, a murder is committed at the Abbey and there is a jewel thief on the loose!
Not one to leave it to the professionals and desperate to prove her worth to Brisbane, Lady Julia stumbles her way through her own investigation as she seeks out a murderer and a jewel thief. The romantic tension between Lady Julia and Brisbane is evident, and has been turned up a notch since the first novel. I found myself nail-bitingly impatient as I urged it to be resolved - in one way or another!
Whilst I found the first novel to be rather slow-moving, Silent in the Sanctuary has much better pace now that most of the central characters and the customs of the time have been presented to the reader. The fact that Lady Julia is not a conventional Victorian Lady makes her escapades more thrilling, and the characters all the more hilarious when seen through her eyes. I doubt these novels would have the same allure if Lady Julia was not the antagonist.