RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn


Title: The Dark Enquiry
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publication Info: MIRA 2011
ISBN: 978-0778312376
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Book Cover This review was written by Blake. This story was nominated in the Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category.

The summary: Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane's private enquiry business.

Among the more unlikely clients: Julia's very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved—if eccentric—family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation. It leads to the exclusive Ghost Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall.

From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust. Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont's sake — and more — they'll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep….

And here is Blake's review:

The Dark Enquiry is the fifth jewel in the crown of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series.  Building on the rich foundation of the previous books in the series, this story carries us deeper into the lives of the clever Lady Julia and her dashing, mysterious husband Nicholas Brisbane.

Though Brisbane has finally consented to have Julia as a partner in his investigating agency, she quickly learns that he still “holds the cards close to his chest”.  When she discovers that her brother Lord Bellmont has surreptitiously met with Brisbane, Julia inserts herself into the investigation, forcing Brisbane’s hand to include her in what quickly becomes an inquiry into murder and political intrigue.

This book contains all of the elements I’ve come to expect from Deanna Raybourn; a colorful cast of characters, an engaging mystery, and a palpable romance.  I like that it gives a dose of the eccentric March Family and introduces several new characters to love or loathe. Julia is clever yet reckless, Brisbane is competent yet headstrong, and I liked how their common desire to protect one another initially put them at odds.  The twists and turns of the complex mystery left me guessing until the end.  The villain took me – and the Brisbanes – by surprise!  I’m thrilled that Julia and Brisbane’s romance deepens.  Never has it been clearer that each is essential to the other’s happiness.   As always, Raybourn’s writing is eloquent and well rounded, containing just the right measures of humor and poignancy.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks.

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