There are two things I loved about this series of books: Nicholas Brisbane and Lady Julia Grey...which is a good thing for the author because they are the main characters. The mysteries and intrigues of each book are great as well, so overall it all comes together to make for enjoyable reading. The author has a knack for introducing very interesting secondary characters that play more than just wallpaper for the main characters. For instance...I love Morag, Lady Julia's crabby maid; a great job is done fleshing out the two women's salty relationship. I also loved Julia many crazy relatives...especially the females. They are an interesting and hilarious lot. And some of them are quite sinister, as the second book demonstrated. I would guess the women during those times would be an interesting lot. They were so dependant on the men in their lives and outside of having a husband and some kids...there was not much else for them to get up to without causing some kind of scandal. So many of them just became old eccentric type widows/spinsters who raised cats and meddled in people's business day and night…or in some cases being trapped leads them to some unholy paths. Not much else when you are put on a shelf to rust away and fall into ruin like some pretty trinket, as most women were then. And that is why I liked Julia Grey.
As a widow, she has two choices: marry again as all women should, or live her life as an aging eccentric widow with her pets to keep her company. She chooses to do neither. From the moment her husband died and she metBrisbane...she put it in her head to live her life as she wants. She is a widow but doesn't wear black and not living quietly in the country somewhere unseen as is proper; and rather than be content to live a quiet life...she goes chasing after mystery, adventure, danger and Brisbane (and he is all three in one package for sure) all common like with no regard for her reputation. I don't know if it a lack of pride or a never ending well of bravery, but she literally flings herself at Brisbane every chance she gets...only to be met with his cool stare or worse, being screamed at to get away. If I were her I would have given up after the first cool rejection...I have way too much knowledge of my pride for all that disdain thrown my way. But not Julia...she is convinced he loves her, but his pride and other foolish notions keeps him rejecting her, and she means to make him admit it and claim her. Even in the end, when all seemed hopeless...she was willing to chuck it all...if it was the only way to get Brisbane, and she would have. I had to admire her tenacity. She does not care what anyone has to say, or what obstacle is in the way...she will find a way to get what she wants, whether by her own cunning, or by her bungling her way into it. And she sure bungled her way through a lot of things in these books. I also loved her wit, she is quick as a mouse and it was obvious that Brisbane did not know what hit him when they first met.
And Brisbane...oy...there were several times when I was totally with Lady Julia in wanting to pop him in the mouth. He is a frustrating, mysterious, madding, scary, and dam sexy character. The bastard. What a proud man...too proud for his own good. He loves his suffering, he wear it like a badge of honor because he thinks he deserves no better. And he won’t let Lady Julia Grey convince him otherwise. But he is such a great character...I understood why Julia chased him and kept at it. He is the type you only get by clubbing them upside their head and dragging them to your cave. Lady Julia was just the lady for him. He had made up his mind that not having Julia was for her own good, and nothing is worse than a man practicing gross stupidity because he thinks he is being noble, to protect a woman. He obviously loves Julia, but pushes her away...sometimes cruelly because he thinks he is not good enough for her and can't offer her much. So ridiculous, so like an arrogant man. But their push and pull...their dance was still fun to witness. In the end I was very satisfied with how they ended up. Unconventional till the end. I can't see either of them getting bored with the other; there is enough drama between them to last a lifetime.
The first book was about Julia's life and her closure, the second book built on Brisbane and Julia's relationship, but was more focused on the murder and mystery, and the last book was more about Brisbane and his past...his closure on some of his many issue. All together, the yare a good package. I would love if there was another book in this series, as I mentioned before, some of the secondary characters were also very well done. Like poor Portia, what's to become of her and her odious dog? And Jane off to India...so sad for them. I wanted to see them happy in the end. And of course...there can be never ending adventures of Brisbane and Julia. I hope we revisit them again. These books can only be described as lovely. So enjoyable and lovely.