After a year of marriage—and numerous adventures—Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together—until they find themselves at her father's ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals.
Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering—but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs. There are missing jewels, new faces at the Abbey, and a prowling ghost that brings back unwelcome memories from a previous holiday—one that turned deadly. Is a new culprit recreating crimes of the past? And will Brisbane let Julia investigate—?
My Review: With the Victorian era being my favorite time period for historical romance right after westerns, I have every Lady Julia Grey novel in my collection...I'm just embarassed to say I haven't read any of them yet. After reading this Christmas novella I guarantee that will change soon...I desperately need more Lady Julia and Brisbane!!!
This first few pages drew me right into the story as the couple sets off for the March family's old ancestral estate with Julia's older sister Portia, her small daughter and their combined menagerie of pets, including a dormouse, a Siamese named Nin, and a greyhound and ancient pug and their litter of "ill begotten pups". They arrive to find the abbey undecorated, the household staff down with colds, Julia's father moody and withdrawn, and soon find themselves investigating the appearance of a ghost and the disappearance of pieces of jewelry. One of my favorite characters/suspects was the new stillroom maid Rose, a former prostitute who lived through the terror of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel.
This novella is so atmospheric that for a moment I felt as though I were in late 19th century England. The resolution of the thefts was unexpected and absolutely delightful! This will definitely be a re-read for me every holiday season!