October 14, 2010

Review of "Dark Road to Darjeeling" by Deanna Raybourn

Description:  After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia's eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband's family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband's death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary. 

When I picked up Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn, not only had I not read the previous three books in the Lady Julia Grey series but I had not read anything by Deanna Raybourn.  I found this book a pleasant and engrossing read. 
It did start a bit slow for me, which I accounted to acquainting myself with characters that had been delighting other readers through three earlier adventures.  Once I felt settled with the characters I was quickly drawn in to the vibrant and rich tale of the Himalayas.  
Ms. Raybourn creates an intriguing mix of romance, historical fiction, travel and mystery in Dark Road to Darjeeling.  The characters are rich, with the lush scenery deserving of its own place in the cast.  I was thoroughly enchanted with the opulent imagery that came alive on the pages.  I could quite easily see The Peacocks in my mind (the tea plantation as well as the colorful birds) and smell the Darjeeling tea as well as the colorful flora mentioned throughout.   

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the story was Lady Julia, a strong, obstinate and determined female, who was most certainly not a woman of her times.  I loved the fact that while Julia was willful and strong natured she wasn't careless or stupid.  You won't find her putting herself in a ridiculous position simply to move the plot forward.  I found her a very realistic heroine, most particularly based on her relationships with her siblings (complete with some heckling) and her husband (frought with frustrations, worries and flat out annoyance at times).  She loves her family but her relationships aren't perfect by any means. 

The mystery was appealing, leaving me fairly well in the dark until all was revealed.  All pieces of the puzzle fit together very nicely, leaving me to find the "big reveal" gratifying and very content with the resolution.  At no point in the book did I feel shortchanged or confused by storyline, or did I feel the persons were acting out of character.

I would not hesitate to recomment Dark Road to Darjeeling to bibliophiles who are passionate about romance, history and foreign lands.  I plan on reading Ms. Raybourn's earlier books in the series, and look forward to future efforts by her.

Dark Road to Darjeeling is available for purchase now at major booksellers including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information about author Deanna Raybourn please visit her website and blog.  

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

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