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Mortal Arts

Mortal Arts - Anna Lee Huber

I'll be honest, this was heading for a two star rating, but the last 1/4 of the book pulled it up a star. Once I got to that point, I could not stop reading.

This series, there's so much potential in the premise, that it saddens me that it's not quite working for me.

And a lot of it has to do with the main character, Lady Darby. She is just so judgmental of everything and everyone. I gave it a bit of a pass in the first book, because she was being treated quite horrendously by a good portion of the other characters in the book. This time, that didn't happen. And since the book is written in first person, the only person's thoughts we're privy to are hers. And her inner dialogue frustrates me something awful.


She's even more judgmental of Sebastian Gage--the character who is the other half of the potential romantic pairing the author has set up--than anyone else. And I'm not sure why? Especially not after I thought he more than proved he wasn't the frivolous rake she originally thought he was by the end of the first book. To me it seems that she's afraid of what she feels for him, and so she seizes on any little comment, any little slight, perceived or real, to lash out at him, and cause an argument so she doesn't have to confront those feelings. So much of her conversations with him have her 'seething', 'glaring', 'biting out' words, and so on. And on the other end, he's by turns stand offish with her or kissing her, and that's frustrating as well. I honestly do not know what they see in each other. I don't feel invested in this relationship, nor really care if the two eventually get together**. I find it very tedious.

The dialogue feels quite modern at times, and I never really am able to get a feel for the setting, yet there's far too much detail in what Lady Darby is wearing.

As to the mystery aspect, here's where I feel the author really does her best work. Though, the actual mystery this time did take awhile to get off the ground, and was a little easier to figure out than in the first book, I still enjoyed it for the most part.

The part I didn't enjoy will be placed under a spoiler cut as it is indeed very spoilerish.

The character of William, the Baron who was a war hero--and was suffering from what we now know as PTSD--and who was also committed to an asylum by his father was the one character I was totally invested in the entire time reading this book. I thought he was a beautifully written character, and I was really rooting for him to find some measure of peace and comfort, only for him to be killed off at the end. It didn't sit well with me at all. It smacked too much of tying everything up in a tidy little package. Though the way the author handled the aftermath of William's death did almost bring me to tears.

(show spoiler)

I will read the next in the series (as I've won it via a GR giveaway), but am afraid it may be my last in this series.

**It appears that we may be being set up here for a lot of back and forth between Lady Darby and Gage, before they finally (if ever) do hook up. There's the seemingly constant 'misunderstandings' between the two, and the fact that at the end of both books Gage distances himself from Lady Darby for reasons I don't quite fathom. (Though, I expect this time that it could be because he's wanting to give her some time to come to terms with the end of this book?) Anyway, I hope that's not the case here, because that's one of my pet peeves.