Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn

twelfth nightTwelfth Night is a novella in the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn.  I’m not really a big fan of these novellas that all the series authors seem to be required to write.  It just isn’t long enough to tell a satisfying story.  And while I love the Julia Grey series, I’m equally as interested in the two new series Raybourn has started, City of Jasmine and A Spear of Summer Grass.  I wonder whether authors get pressured to continue series much longer than they want to, and I think it’s great that Raybourn is going off in different directions.

But I was tempted by the free review copy from NetGalley, so it deserves a review.  I’ve written about the Grey series before, but if you like Victorian-era mysteries with strong female characters, I highly recommend this one.  You should stop reading this review and check it out.

Twelfth Night is the most recent addition to the series, in which Julia and her family are gathered to perform their annual Revels at Bellmont Abbey.  If you already know the series, Julia’s family (the Marches) is eccentric, to say the least, which is one of the things I enjoy about the series.  Nicholas and Julia are wonderful characters, although not well-developed here (the novella assumes you’ve read the series).

In this story, Nicholas and Julia are thinking about the next steps in their lives, when an abandoned baby is found outside the March home.  Julia and Nicholas, with the help of some precocious nieces and nephews, set out to find the baby’s parents.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the baby storyline, because I could see where this is going. Taking care of a newborn and finding its parents raises the question of whether Nicholas and Julia will ever become parents themselves.  Their life doesn’t lend itself to taking care of a baby, and Julia isn’t entirely convinced that she wants one.  To say more will give away plot details in the series, which I don’t want to do.

This novella, while entertaining, feels more like a transition. And as such, it does its job well enough. Still, I loved the last Julia Grey novel and would much rather read a fully-developed story.

But I have to say this, and it has little bearing on the quality of this book – just once I want to read about a female character (in a book, movie, or TV show) who doesn’t want children and then doesn’t have them. No one writes a female character who doesn’t want children; even when they say they don’t, they always change their minds.

I expect that Mercy Thompson, Kate Daniels, Julia Grey, and the other heroines that keep me tuning in book after book, will eventually become parents, and I suppose that’s the “normal” way of things.  I just don’t really want to read about babies.  I love my nieces and nephews, but everyone in the world thinks women are supposed to long for children, and not all of us do.

Now in a turn of the century historical novel, clearly the woman is EXPECTED to have children.  But that doesn’t mean the author has to “deliver” one.  After all, when does a baby enhance a good mystery/romance/action series? Babies, while adorable and necessary, don’t make for terribly interesting reading.

I’m sure most of my readers won’t agree with me, and that’s fine… still, I don’t think I’m alone out there.  I also know my husband doesn’t run into this issue in his series.


Note: I received a review copy of this book from Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This book was published June 1, 2014.

  3 comments for “Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn

  1. June 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I’m totally with you on the babies thing. It seems to be inevitable in long-running series when the hero and heroine have finally gotten together, but reading about babies is just not interesting! (Unless you’re having one, I guess?)

    I have only read the first 3 Lady Julia Grey books, and while I enjoyed them quite a bit, I’ve never been tempted to continue. But I do have A Spear of Summer Grass and City of Jasmine both waiting on my shelves, so I’m excited to see how they will compare!

    • June 24, 2014 at 7:47 am

      Thanks for the comment! It’s nice to hear I’m not alone on this one. Hope you enjoy the other two books.

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