Two years after Lucy Trotter leaves the loveless but familiar confines of Brooding Cranesbill (the orphanage and school for underprivileged girls where she was raised), and takes employment as the nanny to the aristocratic Sedley family, Lucy is accused of murdering Lord Sedley, mainly because she is poor and without family. Lady Sedley calls upon the national hero, Lord Adair to solve the crime and prove that Lucy is the murderess, along with finding a set of family jewels that disappeared around the same time. Lucy is mesmerized by the unearthly beauty of Lord Adair, however, she knows that if she doesn't give him a helping hand solving the murder, there's a real chance she will end up hanging for a crime she didn't commit, while the real culprit walks away a free person. Lord Adair has his hands full solving a crime in a house full of strange characters, including a ghost, an animal obsessed male heir, and an amorous valet having an affair with the lady of the house.
Anya Wylde has written another novel chock full of puns and slapstick humor that will make even the most hardened reader chuckle. Her heroine, Lucy is very lovable, because of her indomitable spirit and her atypical view of the world. Every character in this book is weird, which makes the distinguished recurring character of Lord Adair feel almost normal. The mystery was well done, and actually was a complete surprise to me.
While I enjoyed this book, I didn't find it as hilariously funny as her previous books. Sometimes, it even felt like Wylde was trying too hard to get laughs. There were a few odd moments that seemed so random; it was hard to be convinced they were being played for laughs. For some reason, the writing feels less cohesive. The story, while a shorter length novel, tends to meander a bit, prompting me to wonder when it would get to the climax.
It was a very pleasant surprise to see the character of Lord Adair again. His presence in previous books has endeared this reader and no doubt all of Wylde's other readers. I would have liked to see more chemistry between him and Lucy, although I am not sure this novel is meant to be a romance. It seems as though Lucy's attraction to him was one-sided, despite Lucy being highly endearing. This seemed like a missed romantic opportunity for Lord Adair's lonely character.
Lucy will appeal to readers who love characters like Bronte's Jane Eyre. She is a strong-minded, vibrant, unique and indefatigable young woman who deserves a happy ending, and no doubt readers will root for her. Her poor treatment by the family and servants alike inspired pathos in me as I read, and her antics made me laugh.
Overall, Murder at Rudhall Manor is a good book. The humor is quirky and entertaining, and the touch of the supernatural, teamed with a mystery that the readers have to work to solve, makes for a diverting read overall. A more cohesive storyline and a plot with greater momentum would have made this a close to flawless book. But even with its flaws, this was a fun read.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Danielle Hill.
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