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Mortal Arts

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Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator—and romantic entanglement—Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery. Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother—and Kiera’s childhood art tutor—William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend—and save the marriage of another…


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Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator—and romantic entanglement—Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery. Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother—and Kiera’s childhood art tutor—William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend—and save the marriage of another…

30 review for Mortal Arts

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Seaver

    Well. What to say. Let's start with the good. Lady Kiera Darby is a heroine with an interesting backstory. She views the world in which she inhabits with a bit of an outsiders eye, and since the novel is written first person, hers is the only viewpoint we have. The setting (rambling family manse in Scotland) is interesting for the time period. No London high society setting, very different. The storyline/mystery: very high promise. What depravities might Kiera's tortured past art instructor be c Well. What to say. Let's start with the good. Lady Kiera Darby is a heroine with an interesting backstory. She views the world in which she inhabits with a bit of an outsiders eye, and since the novel is written first person, hers is the only viewpoint we have. The setting (rambling family manse in Scotland) is interesting for the time period. No London high society setting, very different. The storyline/mystery: very high promise. What depravities might Kiera's tortured past art instructor be capable of? Who is hiding what and from whom as to his acts? Long suffering love interest with the enigmatic (or tries to be) Sebastian Gage. Now, the reality. For all that the setting is the 1830's, the time period is not something that you are steeped in, no immersion. The language does not ring through as period correct. Kiera at one point exclaims, "there you go!" in response to a reason for motive. It read as something my daughter would say today. It could be anytime, anywhere, excepting the tossed in mentions on what may be "proper" or against "propriety" and the ad nauseum descriptions of Lady Darby's clothing. William could have been traumatized in any war, so vague is the feeling of time set. Again, while the mystery had plenty of moments of "oohh, so this is going to be good" it fizzled shortly in when you knew who was behind the murder mystery and had a good guess as to why. Now, this I can overlook. I cannot overlook the heroines propensity of hugging herself, Kiera is always "wrapping her arms about herself", her tendency to melodramatics, the manufactured "obstacle" that she and Gage must overcome. Their developing "relationship" for lack of a better word, is trying to be enigmatic and on the heartbreaking side, two lovers held apart by circumstance. But the courtship of the two is all tepid looks and strange confidences, followed by cold silence and distance. Frustrating. And not in a good, shiver of expectation up your spine kind of way. More along the lines of what, exactly is keeping these two apart? There is no societal barrier, other than Kiera's infamy, and as Gage reeks of trade, it would be Kiera to "lose face" in society, if she had any at all. The fact that she feels ostracized, or different, are brought to us only in her words. Never in the actions or words from another, unless blatantly obvious, a reminder of how loathed or mistrusted our heroine is supposed to be considered. There is little subtlety to the characters, again their feelings must be explained step by step by Kiera's analyzing of their words and facial expressions. The author could spin this in a much more likeable manner for me if I felt as though I just entered a pre-Victorian atmosphere, the characters had snappy, colorful dialog that allowed me to draw conclusions as to their actions and feelings, instead of in long descriptive paragraphs of the narrators "thoughts". This way of coming at the story works better with a third person narrative. I simply do not need to be inundated by the color of Kiera's "Prussian blue gown" when she is teetering on the precipice of a decrepit Scottish castle about to engage the enemy in a windy climax. Bad form indeed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)

    This series is definitely getting better as it goes! I really liked the first installment but I liked this one even more. So excited to see what comes next and love that the romance aspect, is definitely heating up as well!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*

    Setting: Scotland 1830 Summary: In the second book by Anna Lee Huber, Lady Kiera Darby accompanies her pregnant sister Alanna to Edinburgh for a much needed medical care for her. And although Kiera would never admit it, she is excited to be in the same city that she knows investigator Sebastian Gage is in as well. While there, she plans to attend the wedding of an old family friend. But when a local girl goes missing and the groom's brother becomes a suspect, Kiera once again must use her medical Setting: Scotland 1830 Summary: In the second book by Anna Lee Huber, Lady Kiera Darby accompanies her pregnant sister Alanna to Edinburgh for a much needed medical care for her. And although Kiera would never admit it, she is excited to be in the same city that she knows investigator Sebastian Gage is in as well. While there, she plans to attend the wedding of an old family friend. But when a local girl goes missing and the groom's brother becomes a suspect, Kiera once again must use her medical knowledge to help Sebastian to solve the crime. If you have read the first book, Kiera's next tale will draw you once again. The setting in this one is described in great detail, bringing 18th Century Scotland to life. The characters once again are true to the time period, yet their emotional qualities allow the reader to identify with them. And of course the working relationship between Lady Darby and Sebastian Gage continues to become increasingly personal. And without giving anything away I found the ending in this one much better and with another "carrot-dangling" what will happen from here? And will the next book unravel our hero Sebastian's secrets? Off to pick up book three!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Misfit

    3.5 stars Since most of us don't read the author's notes until the book is done, I found some info that I would have loved to have known at the start. Would have helped with the imagery of the two houses. The Dalmay House in Mortal arts was based on Dalmeny House, and the crumbling abandoned castle was based on Barnbougle Castle. There's also a short video taken of the old castle here on Youtube. Now for the review. You'll have to mosey on over to Booklikes and read it here. 3.5 stars Since most of us don't read the author's notes until the book is done, I found some info that I would have loved to have known at the start. Would have helped with the imagery of the two houses. The Dalmay House in Mortal arts was based on Dalmeny House, and the crumbling abandoned castle was based on Barnbougle Castle. There's also a short video taken of the old castle here on Youtube. Now for the review. You'll have to mosey on over to Booklikes and read it here.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ♥Rachel♥

    The mystery was easy to figure out, but I still enjoyed the story. Love Gage and Kiera's collaboration in the investigation, and their developing romance. Already onto the third book. I'm addicted. As with the last book, Heather Wilds' narration is perfection! The mystery was easy to figure out, but I still enjoyed the story. Love Gage and Kiera's collaboration in the investigation, and their developing romance. Already onto the third book. I'm addicted. As with the last book, Heather Wilds' narration is perfection!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    An unconventional female heroine, paired with an enigmatic and charming male lead; whispers of a brewing attraction between them; set in 1830 on the rocky coast of the Firth of Forth in Scotland; a mystery involving betrayal and a creepy lunatic asylum and the disappearance of two young girls-- this historical mystery has everything a reader of my tastes could want, and indeed, I was prepared to devour it with singular enjoyment. The trouble is, it fell short on all of these elements. The heroin An unconventional female heroine, paired with an enigmatic and charming male lead; whispers of a brewing attraction between them; set in 1830 on the rocky coast of the Firth of Forth in Scotland; a mystery involving betrayal and a creepy lunatic asylum and the disappearance of two young girls-- this historical mystery has everything a reader of my tastes could want, and indeed, I was prepared to devour it with singular enjoyment. The trouble is, it fell short on all of these elements. The heroine repeatedly tells us she is unusual and ostracized and even became a target of the villain because of her supposed oddities-- but she's actually not particularly odd or unusual or even in truth very interesting. We see nothing in her behavior to support her descriptions of herself so the words fall flat. Second, the romance between her and Gage is stagnant and unnecessarily thwarted. The obstacles between them are unnamed, unclear, and contrived. The result is not delectable sexual tension but simple irritation. Third, the promising geographical and historical setting is marred by inconsistent and uncomfortably written Scottish accents and even more so by jarring bursts of anachronistic dialogue. The characters live in 19th century UK but frequently speak in 21st century (American) idioms and colloquialisms. Finally, the mystery itself was without suspense and should have been solved by our 'brilliant sleuths' about 150 pages earlier. Some of their oversights and deductive failures were simply inexcusable. I found myself shouting at them to figure it out -- never a pleasant experience when reading a mystery. I'll probably give the third book in the series a try, but if it doesn't show significant improvement it will probably be my last investment of time in Ms. Huber's work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Very creepy, with a master of an insane asylum gone rogue and a man who suffers from severe PTSD in the same area when a young lady disappears. It's a mostly clean mystery, with some mild period curses and some innuendo, along with moderate violence. I'll definitely be moving along to the third book in the series to see what else Kiera and Gage will be solving. Very creepy, with a master of an insane asylum gone rogue and a man who suffers from severe PTSD in the same area when a young lady disappears. It's a mostly clean mystery, with some mild period curses and some innuendo, along with moderate violence. I'll definitely be moving along to the third book in the series to see what else Kiera and Gage will be solving.

  8. 4 out of 5

    dOnnabud

    This is an excellent read. Central to the plot is a veteran's horrific struggles with PTSD, which was not recognized or treated in 1830. Rather, it was considered to be melancholy or madness. There are many dark, gothic moments, and the thrilling conclusion is reminiscent of Poe! This is an excellent read. Central to the plot is a veteran's horrific struggles with PTSD, which was not recognized or treated in 1830. Rather, it was considered to be melancholy or madness. There are many dark, gothic moments, and the thrilling conclusion is reminiscent of Poe!

  9. 4 out of 5

    D.A.

    Mortal Arts is Anna Lee Huber’s second in the Lady Darby Historical Mystery series published by Berkley Prime Crime, September 2013 If you have not read the first in this new series, The Anatomist’s Wife, run out and get a copy, download a copy, whatever you have to do, and then get ready for Mortal Arts. Find a quiet place, get a glass of wine or fresh brewed coffee or tea, and let the Victorian atmosphere and careful narration take you away to another time and share with you the sounds and scen Mortal Arts is Anna Lee Huber’s second in the Lady Darby Historical Mystery series published by Berkley Prime Crime, September 2013 If you have not read the first in this new series, The Anatomist’s Wife, run out and get a copy, download a copy, whatever you have to do, and then get ready for Mortal Arts. Find a quiet place, get a glass of wine or fresh brewed coffee or tea, and let the Victorian atmosphere and careful narration take you away to another time and share with you the sounds and scents that will overtake you in this beautifully written tale. Lady Kiera Darby, our protagonist, is a strong woman, so likeable, so smart, and so very much her own person. While there are several themes at play, Ms. Huber’s neatly constructed plot never wavers from its linear progression. The central mystery is cushioned in family betrayal, PTSD issues, and the treatment of the mentally ill. There are moments of descriptive brilliance here, and the gentle touches to surrounding characters enhance your visit to Lady Darby’s world. In one scene, Lady Darby and Gage enter a crude stone building occupied by Mrs. McCray. When she brings out her finest tea china, that simple act provides insight into this peripheral villager. And in another, Lady Darby erupts into a defensive tirade and shocks the guests in the room. As each react to the outburst, we get a clearer view behind the proper façades. This story has an added romantic element that is necessary to the growth of Lady Darby but does not overshadow the core that is the mystery. I enjoyed the slow build of the relationship between Lady Darby and Gage. He does confuse me a bit. But he also confuses Lady Darby. Will we learn more about his motives in book three? By the end of the tale, Lady Darby has certainly evolved and several of those bricks in her emotional wall have crumbled. I truly enjoyed every page, every sentence. I'm already in line for book three as this author delivers a carefully constructed, comfortably enveloping story with brutal lies to uncover and shocking secrets to reveal. But don’t get too caught up in soft brocade, feathery breezes or the breathtaking Scottish landscape. There is, after all, a murder to solve.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    After reading The Anatomist's Wife, I couldn’t wait to rejoin Kiera and see what happened next to her. Naturally, another mystery presents itself to be uncovered, involving her childhood art tutor, who had been missing for nearly ten years. I must admit I didn’t expect this but I appreciated Huber’s choice of dealing with mental illness (PTSD from war experience) in a time when it was totally misunderstood, and the horrors of quite a few contemporary insane asylum. The resulting narrative is pret After reading The Anatomist's Wife, I couldn’t wait to rejoin Kiera and see what happened next to her. Naturally, another mystery presents itself to be uncovered, involving her childhood art tutor, who had been missing for nearly ten years. I must admit I didn’t expect this but I appreciated Huber’s choice of dealing with mental illness (PTSD from war experience) in a time when it was totally misunderstood, and the horrors of quite a few contemporary insane asylum. The resulting narrative is pretty dark but also compelling. Once more, Kiera’s knowledge, past experiences, and especially her way of perceiving events and people is called to help save more than one person. And what of Gage? Well, he is of course present, doing his usual ambivalent ‘dance routine' around Kiera, but really dealing with his own demons. For someone who comes across often quite badly, behaving in the entitled way men of standing did then, the author does hint at hidden depths. And yes, I can’t help starting book 3 right now :O)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cheesecake

    I enjoyed this one better than the first. Gage was just as enigmatic as in the first one, but we do get one or two answers. The mystery took me longer to figure out and was more tense because an old friend of Keira's is in danger. I loved Keira in this one. She was fearless and smart and coming into her own after the crap her dead husband and his ahole friends put her through. She didn't take any guff from Gage or anyone else. safety is good (view spoiler)[A kiss but no more. Gage gets a little je I enjoyed this one better than the first. Gage was just as enigmatic as in the first one, but we do get one or two answers. The mystery took me longer to figure out and was more tense because an old friend of Keira's is in danger. I loved Keira in this one. She was fearless and smart and coming into her own after the crap her dead husband and his ahole friends put her through. She didn't take any guff from Gage or anyone else. safety is good (view spoiler)[A kiss but no more. Gage gets a little jealous of Keira's friend. No OW stuff. (hide spoiler)]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jude: The Epic Reader

    I liked these one more this time around than in the previous two times. (view spoiler)[I just get madder and madder with each reread that they killed off Will. (hide spoiler)] I enjoy seeing more of Kiera's childhood and the people who affected her life, in both positive and negative ways. I don't care much about the mystery but I love Kiera and Will. I liked these one more this time around than in the previous two times. (view spoiler)[I just get madder and madder with each reread that they killed off Will. (hide spoiler)] I enjoy seeing more of Kiera's childhood and the people who affected her life, in both positive and negative ways. I don't care much about the mystery but I love Kiera and Will.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Kiera and Gage are once again involved in solving another mystery, but this one is far more personal to Kiera, giving us a great chance to learn more about her beyond her past with her brute of an anatomist husband. It says a lot for how sympathetic an heroine Kiera is that the enormous pain she experienced due to the events in The Mortal Arts soured my mood as much as hers. Although I liked her healthy, loving relationships with her sister and brother-in-law, it was even better seeing her stand Kiera and Gage are once again involved in solving another mystery, but this one is far more personal to Kiera, giving us a great chance to learn more about her beyond her past with her brute of an anatomist husband. It says a lot for how sympathetic an heroine Kiera is that the enormous pain she experienced due to the events in The Mortal Arts soured my mood as much as hers. Although I liked her healthy, loving relationships with her sister and brother-in-law, it was even better seeing her stand on her own feet as an individual again - having her own social life and making decisions without the protective hovering of her family. The mystery in this book, while actually more compelling than the first because the broken, erratic and mysterious individual at its center had such a deep bond with Kiera, had less logical progression. Part of this was because of Kiera’s very attachment to Will Dalmay – she admitted herself later on that she could not really be impartial in the investigation. His deteriorated mental condition also made him as much of a victim as a suspect, and thus Kiera spent a large part of the story tip-toeing around Will the way one would a frightened animal, rather than actually… investigating. But even less convincing was the sudden appearance of an (view spoiler)[almost comic book-style evil doctor villain, one who has been conducting horrendous experiments in an asylum of darkness and has set his sights on a new victim (hide spoiler)] . That just isn’t a fair murder mystery, is it? It’s all so unsatisfyingly pat, though it made for excellent suspense-building. On the other hand, I was glad to have my concerns regarding whether Kiera and Gage’s tumultuous romance would be dragged on by misunderstandings and feelings left unsaid proven false. If anything, their fiery arguments made Gage feel far more real to me as a character than he did in the first book, where he was almost always the master of himself. Thanks to Kiera, he’s humbler, more open about his own personal demons and increasingly gentle. I liked him much better for it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Starry-Eyed Jen

    This is definitely a series that I'll be sticking out, if only in hopes of seeing Kiera and Gage make it to the altar one day. :D I love their banter and how protective Gage is and how Kiera still won't let that stop her from solving the mystery at hand. She's plucky and courageous and one day, I'm sure she'll get that gun she's been meaning to purchase. ;) Lord knows she's gonna need it if she keeps on her current path. I do wish there was more of an on-going mystery and not just a new case wit This is definitely a series that I'll be sticking out, if only in hopes of seeing Kiera and Gage make it to the altar one day. :D I love their banter and how protective Gage is and how Kiera still won't let that stop her from solving the mystery at hand. She's plucky and courageous and one day, I'm sure she'll get that gun she's been meaning to purchase. ;) Lord knows she's gonna need it if she keeps on her current path. I do wish there was more of an on-going mystery and not just a new case with each book, especially as the cases thus far have been a tad predictable, but even so, I still find these books suspenseful and captivating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    “If all else fails, proceed with unbending civility.” MORTAL ARTS Ok. I am obsessed with the Lady Darby Mystery series now. I was definitely interested in reading more after the first book, The Anatomist’s Wife, but it is really Mortal Arts that drew me into the series a bit more. In this 2nd installment, Lady Kiera Darby is traveling with her sister and brother-in-law to Edinburgh and stops to visit their friend Michael Dalmay along the way. Michael Dalmay’s older brother, William was Kiera’s for “If all else fails, proceed with unbending civility.” MORTAL ARTS Ok. I am obsessed with the Lady Darby Mystery series now. I was definitely interested in reading more after the first book, The Anatomist’s Wife, but it is really Mortal Arts that drew me into the series a bit more. In this 2nd installment, Lady Kiera Darby is traveling with her sister and brother-in-law to Edinburgh and stops to visit their friend Michael Dalmay along the way. Michael Dalmay’s older brother, William was Kiera’s former drawing master and has been missing and presumed dead for the last 10 years. Much to everyone’s shock, William is very much alive and was just rescued from an asylum by his brother. His father locked him up after he had trouble dealing with his mental state after all the battles he fought. When a local woman goes missing, all suspicion falls on William. So it is up to Kiera and her fellow investigator, Sebastion Gabe to clear his name and find the person responsible for her disappearance. This book keeps up that gothic atmosphere that I fell in love with in the first book. This time we are dealing with mysterious disappearances and sketchy insane asylums that prey on the vulnerable. At this time in history, mental health is nonexistent. There are things called battle exhaustion. But anyone suffering from any sort of mental illness or trauma is branded mad and locked away to be tortured and forgotten. Lady Kiera approaches this case with grace, kindness, and gentleness. She knows her friend William’s soul is troubled because she has been in that state herself. She must convince those around her that there are complexities around this type of situation and that William would not harm anyone. She must even convince Gage who is trying to approach the case from a more standard point. Lady Kiera’s relationship with William tore my heart out. It is such a beautiful friendship…and yet so tragic. Tissues are definitely required for this book. There are several trigger warnings for this book: mention of rape, mental illness, depression, PTSD, torture, etc… Once again, we have the buildup of chemistry between Gage and Kiera. Gage has developed so much from the first book. His roguish appearance is starting to falter as Kiera discovers that it is all a facade for society’s benefit. He hasn’t exposed much of himself yet, but the wall is starting to come down and I can’t wait to see their relationship blossom. Overall, this is my favorite book so far! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    It was an interesting choice for the author to centre the story on the mental health of a former drawing teacher and respected friend of Kiera’s, and the possible culpability of this friend in the disappearance of a young woman. There was no understanding, at the time this story is set, of the complexities of mental health issues such as depression and PTSD, and these misunderstandings fuel the confusion and prejudices marring the investigation that Kiera is pulled into, along with Gage. That Kier It was an interesting choice for the author to centre the story on the mental health of a former drawing teacher and respected friend of Kiera’s, and the possible culpability of this friend in the disappearance of a young woman. There was no understanding, at the time this story is set, of the complexities of mental health issues such as depression and PTSD, and these misunderstandings fuel the confusion and prejudices marring the investigation that Kiera is pulled into, along with Gage. That Kiera’s persistence and kindness, and willingness to be compassionate, especially towards the possible suspect and PTSD sufferer, is what forces Gage to be more open-minded than he is wont to be during his investigation. And Kiera again makes the critical jumps in the case because she asks the questions no one else does. And Gage—I still can’t stand him, and because know where Kiera’s and his relationship is going, I can only hope the author can do some inspired writing to transform him from horrible, awful, superior, smug and really, really annoying, to possibly tolerable. Kiera is great, and I look forward to her next outing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    3.5 stars. This was a heartbreaking mystery (which, again, wasn’t very mysterious) featuring a strong h and a well developed cast of secondary characters. The suspense was good and the development of the relationship between the MCs continued to draw me in. There was no sex in this book (yay!) and no OP drama at all. The thing I probably appreciated the most about this book was that the h didn’t chase the H. She didn’t apologize for anything that wasn’t her fault and she wasn’t a doormat. I’m lo 3.5 stars. This was a heartbreaking mystery (which, again, wasn’t very mysterious) featuring a strong h and a well developed cast of secondary characters. The suspense was good and the development of the relationship between the MCs continued to draw me in. There was no sex in this book (yay!) and no OP drama at all. The thing I probably appreciated the most about this book was that the h didn’t chase the H. She didn’t apologize for anything that wasn’t her fault and she wasn’t a doormat. I’m looking forward to what’s to come in this series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Green

    I am really enjoying the Lady Darby mysteries! I loved this one even more than the first in the series. I found the changes of scenery to be refreshing, and the subject matter of the mystery really intriguing and higher stakes than in the first. As ever, I appreciate the historical details and author's note at the end. Mortal Arts is a very well-written general market cozy mystery with a protagonist who can clearly hold her own and sustain many more books. Looking forward to the next! I am really enjoying the Lady Darby mysteries! I loved this one even more than the first in the series. I found the changes of scenery to be refreshing, and the subject matter of the mystery really intriguing and higher stakes than in the first. As ever, I appreciate the historical details and author's note at the end. Mortal Arts is a very well-written general market cozy mystery with a protagonist who can clearly hold her own and sustain many more books. Looking forward to the next!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Moving from a Highland Scotland castle to Edinburgh, Lady Darby and her family stopover with friends and become engrossed in a new, dark mystery and brings Kiera into contact with the enigmatic Sebastian Gage once again. Mortal Arts is book two in the Lady Darby series. It follows on the heels of the events of book one and, though it presents a new mystery, works best when gotten in order. Kiera and her brother in law worry for her sister's pregnancy and so decide to move the family to Edinburgh a Moving from a Highland Scotland castle to Edinburgh, Lady Darby and her family stopover with friends and become engrossed in a new, dark mystery and brings Kiera into contact with the enigmatic Sebastian Gage once again. Mortal Arts is book two in the Lady Darby series. It follows on the heels of the events of book one and, though it presents a new mystery, works best when gotten in order. Kiera and her brother in law worry for her sister's pregnancy and so decide to move the family to Edinburgh and closer to better doctors just in case. Along the way, Phillip receives a message from his aunt demanding that he stop at his friend's ancestral home because something has arisen that has put a snag in the engagement of Phillip's cousin to his good friend, Michael Dalmay. Kiera also knows the Dalmays and is barely prepared for the startling revelation that happens soon after she arrives. The complication to the engagement becomes the least of the family troubles when a local girl goes missing. Kiera has been brooding over Gage's swift departure and abrupt emotional wall he put up just before he left and now she is on low simmer when she must work with him once again knowing he is keeping secrets. They clash as often as they have brilliant flashes of connection. She is drawn to him even while she is furious over his investigation into her friends and his need to keep his secrets and his past from her after she shared so much of her own troubled past. But, there is something there between them and she must trust him if they are to get the truth in time to save those she cares about. The ongoing development of Kiera's story and the story that is growing between her and Sebastian Gage has me as spellbound as the dark, brooding mystery. Some of Gage's past comes out and I was glad to get it. The historical element was as chilling as it can get. This one takes the reader into the horrors of insane asylums and the terror for anyone different to be sent to one. It also explores the horrors of war on those who come home with what was called battle fatigue and we call PTSD. Kiera is faced with her own demons as a result of being around a person troubled by experiences in both wrongful incarceration at a sadistic doctor's asylum and facing war trauma. The mystery was not that mysterious and was easy to work out all around, but that didn't matter. This book had amazing emotional depth for a mystery and I cried over that tragedy during the big climax at the end. All in all, it was as good as the first book and left me craving more from the Lady Darby series which I can heartily recommend to historical mystery fans.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Mortal Arts 4 Stars Lady Kiera Darby travels with her sister and brother-in-law to Edinburgh, but is detoured to Dalmay by an urgent missive from Phillip’s aunt. It seems that Michael Dalmay, an old family friend, is soon to be wed to Phillip’s cousin. Unfortunately, the return of Michael’s older brother and the disappearance of a local girl put a pall on the wedding plans, and Kiera is forced to join forces once again with the enigmatic Sebastian Gage to uncover the truth. An enjoyable sequel wit Mortal Arts 4 Stars Lady Kiera Darby travels with her sister and brother-in-law to Edinburgh, but is detoured to Dalmay by an urgent missive from Phillip’s aunt. It seems that Michael Dalmay, an old family friend, is soon to be wed to Phillip’s cousin. Unfortunately, the return of Michael’s older brother and the disappearance of a local girl put a pall on the wedding plans, and Kiera is forced to join forces once again with the enigmatic Sebastian Gage to uncover the truth. An enjoyable sequel with engaging characters although the mystery is far too obvious. Similar to Charles Todd’s A Duty to the Dead, Huber provides an accurate and heart-wrenching portrayal of battle fatigue albeit during a much earlier time period (Napoleonic War vs. WWI). Huber’s insight into the human mind as it struggles with the devastating aftermath of war and her descriptions of the terrible atrocities suffered by those afflicted with mental illness and confined to asylums in the 19th century adds a darker tone to the story and makes it impossible for the reader not to sympathize with William Dalmay’s suffering. The mystery takes time to get going and although the eventual explanation is exceedingly disturbing it is also very predictable. The culprit is glaringly obvious from the start as is the motivation, and all that remains is following along as Kiera and Gage investigate and figure out the hows and the whys of it all. Gage and Kiera’s relationship (one cannot quite call it a romance at this time) develops at a steady pace as more of Kiera’s past is revealed including her feelings of isolation as a young teen and the time she spent under her nefarious husband’s oppressive thumb. More details of Gage’s background are also provided and they go a long way toward explaining his actions in the previous book. Nevertheless, there are still many unanswered questions and it will be interesting to learn the answers. Heather Wilds' narration is alright. Her accents are very good, but her pacing is off. She reads quite fast and there are times when the sentences seem to run together, i.e., she doesn't pause would she should at the end of a paragraph or a section of dialogue. All in all, a well written and disturbing mystery with a touch of romance. Recommended for fans of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    After rapidly finishing the first Lady Darby book, I knew that I would need the next one. I didn’t care that the book cost $14.00 on my Kindle and I had tons of other books I could read….I had to know what happened to Gage and Kiera next! This book was much different than the first one and I think I liked it even more than the first book! I loved all the Gothic elements that this one had. The first book lacked some of my favorite elements but this one did NOT disappoint! Crumbling castle on the co After rapidly finishing the first Lady Darby book, I knew that I would need the next one. I didn’t care that the book cost $14.00 on my Kindle and I had tons of other books I could read….I had to know what happened to Gage and Kiera next! This book was much different than the first one and I think I liked it even more than the first book! I loved all the Gothic elements that this one had. The first book lacked some of my favorite elements but this one did NOT disappoint! Crumbling castle on the coast, a madman locked in the attic, an asylum looming ominously off the North Sea coast, a family fallen from grace, a howling ghost dog legend, family secrets, and murder most foul? YES! All things that I love in a Gothic novel, plus you add the budding affection between Kiera and Gage and you easily have a five star rating from me! I loved how prominent the madness element was in this novel. I thought it added a layer of uncertainty that would keep readers on edge. Because of the uncertainty surrounding Will, I found myself second guessing everything we were being told. Was Kiera just bias or was she wrong? I loved the not knowing if we could trust one of the major characters. The chemistry between Gage and Kiera is also really heating up. I love how mysterious Gage is and how we don’t really know too much about him in the first book besides that he is ‘charming’ and now in this book we start learning a ton more about him. He’s like an onion….peeling a layer back one at a time and I am literally LOVING IT! Watching the growing affection between Kiera and him is just so exciting. I especially love that the author is dragging it out over the course of the books rather than rush to ‘put a ring on it’ in like the first book. One thing that I struggled a little bit with was Kiera’s devotion to Will. I felt like her defense of him was more than the acquaintance warranted. He was her drawing tutor for a few short months, and I felt like Gage had reason to believe there was a romantic interest and frankly I felt like she was holding back as well. I gathered that she was infatuated with him, but I just felt like her devotion to him and her defense and her feelings at the end of the book just didn’t jive with me. The reason for her devotion was because he had faith in her art and herself as well as her abilities, which I suppose was a good enough reason, but still I felt like it wasn’t enough. But in the end I simply didn’t care. I was too wrapped up in the mystery and the darker content and the heating up romance to put much thought into it. There was plenty to love in this latest installment and I loved loved loved the Gothic feel of this novel. I immediately downloaded the third book in this series as soon as I finished this book…..even if it was another $14.00, it was $14.00 well spent if you ask me! See my full review here

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I'd enjoyed Book 1 in this series SO much (despite some nitpicks) that I immediately bought Book 2; with this one, Book 2, I had no nitpicks at all. I just loved it! This is such a binge-worthy series. The mystery was much stronger in this volume, and I really, really love the way the relationships are developing through the books - not only Kiera's relationship with her romantic interest, but also with her family members and old friends and in the way she's learning to re-enter larger society a I'd enjoyed Book 1 in this series SO much (despite some nitpicks) that I immediately bought Book 2; with this one, Book 2, I had no nitpicks at all. I just loved it! This is such a binge-worthy series. The mystery was much stronger in this volume, and I really, really love the way the relationships are developing through the books - not only Kiera's relationship with her romantic interest, but also with her family members and old friends and in the way she's learning to re-enter larger society after the scandals of her past. I grabbed Book 3 right away, and if only I had an unlimited book budget, I'd be buying all 6 books in the series-so-far this month! Also, I really appreciate the sensitive way that Anna Lee Huber writes about the murders in these books. Even when they are quite gruesome, there is never any sense of voyeurism in their descriptions (which is something that bothers me in a lot of mysteries) - we see them only through the appalled and deeply compassionate gaze of Kiera, who will NEVER take any pleasure in the awfulness. (This may sound like an obvious point, but actually, I had to take a long break from reading mysteries or suspense novels for a while because SO MANY of them - including many written by women - left me feeling really gross from the way they'd gone into SO MUCH vivid and explicit detail in describing the horrific and often sexualized violence of those murders. Having read so many of those kinds of murder/discovery scenes in the past, I REALLY appreciate the very different way that violence is handled in these books.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather Gilbert

    At this point, I am fairly confident to say I'm going to like every book in this series. Although this one is setup differently from a traditional mystery (ie: we don't have a body at the beginning), Huber once again makes me feel invested in the characters and the setting right from the get-go. This novel delves into PTSD in a time when it wasn't recognized as such, and I couldn't put the book down until I knew what had happened. I truly admire Huber's smooth writing style. Both novels I've read At this point, I am fairly confident to say I'm going to like every book in this series. Although this one is setup differently from a traditional mystery (ie: we don't have a body at the beginning), Huber once again makes me feel invested in the characters and the setting right from the get-go. This novel delves into PTSD in a time when it wasn't recognized as such, and I couldn't put the book down until I knew what had happened. I truly admire Huber's smooth writing style. Both novels I've read so far in this series are cozy reads I want to curl up with and savor, yet they are so intriguing with their insight into human nature, I can't stop until I reach The End. Looking forward to reading the next in series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    *The Angry Reader*

    I’m not sure how 2 such down to earth and relatively sane characters could become such twats in book 2 but here we are. I feel like Huber didn’t know what to do with Kiera and Gage. So she made them bicker. And bicker. And bicker. They did little else. Their relationship didn’t grow. I’m not even sure we can say it backslid. It just sort of turned into middle school crap. Lots of hurt feelings and non-conversations. The Mystery was not a mystery as it was completely obvious from the get food. No I’m not sure how 2 such down to earth and relatively sane characters could become such twats in book 2 but here we are. I feel like Huber didn’t know what to do with Kiera and Gage. So she made them bicker. And bicker. And bicker. They did little else. Their relationship didn’t grow. I’m not even sure we can say it backslid. It just sort of turned into middle school crap. Lots of hurt feelings and non-conversations. The Mystery was not a mystery as it was completely obvious from the get food. None of the other characters were fun or interesting. Total let down.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Reader of Books

    3.5 ⭐. Not quite as good as the first but still automatically diving into book three so rounding up to four.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mburrows

    This series is getting better. Enjoyable read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Penni

    3-1/2 *'s 3-1/2 *'s

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    2020 Reread Continued to reread these for reading slump reasons. I love them. 2016 I continue to adore this series. I adore this one for many of the same reasons I adore the first one. I also really like how Gage and Lady Darby's relationship is developing, how they're starting to trust one another. (view spoiler)[And can we talk about the moment after she's found out that he's concealed something important to her, like the fact that he was asked to look into things by a crooked doctor, and was per 2020 Reread Continued to reread these for reading slump reasons. I love them. 2016 I continue to adore this series. I adore this one for many of the same reasons I adore the first one. I also really like how Gage and Lady Darby's relationship is developing, how they're starting to trust one another. (view spoiler)[And can we talk about the moment after she's found out that he's concealed something important to her, like the fact that he was asked to look into things by a crooked doctor, and was perhaps at one point working against her friends, and she rides off in a huff. Then later when her initial (and justified) anger has cooled some, and she is waiting for him to show up in her bedroom for a chat (because she knows he will). She thinks about the situation logically, and realizes why his actions make sense, and then she just accepts his apology and tells him she understands, and he's all stupified? (hide spoiler)] CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE RATIONAL WOMAN BEING RATIONAL AND NOT BEING SHOWN TO HOLD A PETTY GRUDGE ON PRINCIPLE, BUT BEING FAIR AND REASONABLE? AND ACKNOWLEDGING THE OTHER PERSON'S POINT OF VIEW WHILE STILL NOT COMPLETELY EXCUSING HIM, BUT ALSO NOT CONDEMNING HIM FOR HOW HE RESPONDED TO AN IMPOSSIBLY DIFFICULT SITUATION? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT? (I will try not to be all capslocky for the entire discussion if it does arise, but I make no promises.) (view spoiler)[And then he responds by telling her his own secrets, particularly with respect to his mother's death. And it is lovely. (hide spoiler)] I just love how complex and consistent all the characters are in this. Continue to adore Phillip and Alana. Continue to really adore Lady Darby herself. I also really enjoy the setting, and how well it's used. I liked how mental illness was treated in this, though some of the descriptions, particularly with respect to the contemporary treatments, were more than a little chilling. One thing re: the ending: (view spoiler)[Look, I always assumed Will was going to die. Really, with the PTSD and the demons, and the fact that his younger brother was engaged to someone whose mother was pretty adamant he get the title (to Michael's credit, he didn't want it - he wanted to do right by his brother). I did think it was appropriate that he met his end saving Kiera (sort of making up for those he couldn't save), and stopping the corrupt doctor who'd kept him locked up and tortured him for so long. It wasn't how I expected the death to go down, so I was pleased. I am not sure how I feel about Kiera being in mortal danger 15 pages from the end of every book, Gage saving her, and then essentially disappearing. (Although, when he jumped in the carriage and said she was planning on leaving without saying goodbye was a nice callback to the ending of the previous book.) Look, it's blatantly obvious (to everyone but Kiera) that Gage is in love with her; I certainly don't doubt his feelings. And it's equally obvious that the reason he isn't pursuing her more directly is due to the fact that he thinks there's a reason he can't, whether the reason is societal and to do with their relative ranks, or whether it has more to do with another secret in his past (and quite frankly, I'm guessing it's a combination of the two, which I'm fine with, as long as the secret isn't a pre-existing wife or some such nonsense, which I seriously doubt it would be). I'm willing to wait a little bit longer to hear the secret, but I'm not sure I'm willing to wait longer than one book. Because the weird disappearances and pulling back only works for so long until it becomes tedious. Like I said, I'm still willing to go with it, but if it's not at least partially explained by the end of the next one, I'm going to get seriously wary. Although, I really love their dynamic, so who knows? I may let it slide again. (hide spoiler)] Oh, also, really love the foreshadowing of the fact that the next one apparently takes place at an ancient abbey. This is excellent news to me. 2016 Reading Challenge - A book with a blue cover

  29. 4 out of 5

    Allison (The Allure of Books)

    The mystery and suspense weaved into the plot of Mortal Arts is far superior to the first book of the series, in my opinion. You guys, it is impossible not to become emotionally involved in the story. William, who has been locked away, is a former soldier suffering from PTSD in a time before it was recognized or understood. The combination of watching him suffer as well as seeing everyone around him at a total loss as to how to help? Heart wrenching, seriously. PTSD is still so misunderstood eve The mystery and suspense weaved into the plot of Mortal Arts is far superior to the first book of the series, in my opinion. You guys, it is impossible not to become emotionally involved in the story. William, who has been locked away, is a former soldier suffering from PTSD in a time before it was recognized or understood. The combination of watching him suffer as well as seeing everyone around him at a total loss as to how to help? Heart wrenching, seriously. PTSD is still so misunderstood even today when it is possible to seek treatment – it must have been unbearable in 1830. Basically, if you’re a (intensely rabid) fan of Tasha Alexander and/or Deanna Raybourn like I am, you absolutely have to give Lady Darby a spin! Then we can join forces and demand the next installment by any means necessary… Check out my full review on the blog!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mei

    This book taked place soon after the end of the first one, so I would advise the readers not to miss the first one. If you do, you'll miss all the little important parts! Here the mistery is around a very important friend of Kiera's: her paining teacher, Will. A person who reappers after many years missing. A gruesome disapperance: the poor guy was comitted by his own father to an asylum (and we all know how they were then!!!). There're murder victims, gossiping people, missing persons, deceaving This book taked place soon after the end of the first one, so I would advise the readers not to miss the first one. If you do, you'll miss all the little important parts! Here the mistery is around a very important friend of Kiera's: her paining teacher, Will. A person who reappers after many years missing. A gruesome disapperance: the poor guy was comitted by his own father to an asylum (and we all know how they were then!!!). There're murder victims, gossiping people, missing persons, deceaving persons and, obviously, there's Gage! *wink* The relationship between Gage and Keira grows and evelves into a romantic one, even if both are afraid, each for its own motives! Beautiful!!! I'll keep reading this series!

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