Well that took forever!
I started this book very soon when it came out late last year. I actually started it as an audio book. I got this one because the narrator's voice on the sample audio I listened to was very nice. Very nice, that is, until she got to Portia's voice. High, shrill, nasal. Ugh. So very un-Portia. I had to ditch the audio, that one voice took me out of the story every time.
The story starts out well enough with Julia and Brisbane on their honeymoon. But it soon lost a bit of steam for me and over the past year, I put it down quite a few times only to pick it up again quite a few times. I did pick up the book again this week it did finally click with me.
The mystery Julia is trying to solve is who killed Freddie Cavendish. Freddie happens to be the husband of Portia's former lover Jane. The man Jane left Portia for because she wanted to marry and have a family. Now, Jane is pregnant and possibly in danger. Portia has conscripted Julia, Brisbane and Plum to travel to India to protect Jane until she delivers and can travel back to England. Portia fears that the motive for Freddie's death has to do with his inheritance and Jane and her unborn child may be the next victims.
So Julia proceeds with her investigation with this in mind. Along the way she meets various people in the smallish community where Jane now lives and unearths all kinds of secrets and some surprising revelations that hit very close to home. The mystery actually morphs into several little mysteries. As I finally sunk into the story (thank goodness!) it flowed well and I didn't want to put it down. I found the trajectory of the mystery much better as the narrative went on. The ending was gratifying, surprising and a little melancholy.
While the stories are always told from Julia's point of view, I find Brisbane to be the real center of the series. He's a strong and fascinating character. The romance reader in me enjoys the love life of the two central protagonists. This installment includes a nice realistic glimpse into the ways that Julia and Brisbane are adjusting to married life.
I think ultimately what made this book a lesser installment for me was the lack of involvement of the rest of the Marsh family. Yes, Plum and Portia were there, but I have found that a lot of my enjoyment of this series stems from Julia's (and Brisbane's) interaction with her whole family.
Still I am glad I soldiered through and finished this one.