First off, if you stopped by the RWA Rita chat last night, thanks! As for my epic fail (I had no mic for the first 25 minutes of the talk), all I can say about that is… well, it kind of figures. I had no problems during the rehearsal, or any of the other dozen times I went on the Shindig site to practice so it only makes sense that my computer would choke on the BIG night. Advice to self: If your computer acts up, turn it off and restart it. I should have done that immediately, because, yep, that’s how it got fixed 🙂
So, on to my next book in the quest to read all the RITA nominees in my category. This week, I’m talking about The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber. Boy. Did I enjoy this book. It’s not what I usually read and that’s good. You know how you read the same stuff over and over again? My personal preferences run to chick lit/women’s fiction, romantic comedy, some action/suspense (think Lee Child) and of course, historical romance (my comfort read). But it’s good to get out of your rut. Speaking of which, I also just read What I Saw and How I Lied and I can’t say enough about the gorgeous writing, but that’s for another post.
Here’s the lowdown on The Anatomist’s Wife:
Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.
Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage-a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.
When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim…
What I Loved about this book:
1. First off, the heroine is kick-ass, no-nonsense, and just plain SMART. Kiera is an artist. First and foremost. It’s her ultimate passion and part of the reason she’s in trouble with society. Her father arranged a marriage for her with a famous anatomist, a man whom he thought would be a good match for his daughter. But alas, nope. Not the case. The guy was a big creep who forced Kiera to participate in his ghouly dissections of corpses and draw what she saw for the book he was working on. Think pre-cursor to Grays Anatomy- the textbook, not the TV show 😉 After her husband’s death, it all comes out, and this being the 1830s, well, you can only imagine the uproar. A woman, actually viewing corpses and drawing them? Well, there’s gotta be something wrong with her, right? All I can say is that I’m sure glad it’s the 21st century. All this studying of the human body and its workings, however, makes Kiera the perfect person to help solve a murder case. It’s 19th century, Highland CSI at its best.
2. The writing is fabulous. And creepy. And wonderfully atmospheric. Warning: Watch out for some of those scenes where Kiera thinks she’s being followed. I had goosebumps. No, really.
3. Awesome chemistry between Kiera and the suave and yummy Sebastian Gage 🙂
4. A fantastic plot. I thought I’d figured out who the murderer was, then the plot did a twist, and I had to start over again.
5. There’s more to come! Yep, this is the beginning of a series with more murder/mysteries to be solved by Keira and Gage. I’ve already pre-ordered the 2nd book, which comes out in this Fall and I can’t wait.
Here’s a snippet from one of my favorites scenes in the book (set up: Kiera and Gage have just come back from viewing the body, and Kiera has been hit on the hit by a crazy guest who thinks she might be the murderer. Gage has escorted Kiera back to her room and is trying to assess how badly she’s been hurt.)
Gage moved to stand behind me, and I felt my scalp prickle as he reached up to touch my head. I breathed in deeply and held myself very still. Something snagged on a tendril of my hair, and I realized he was pulling hairpins from the loose bun fastened at the back of my head just below the bump.
“I can’t see the wound properly with all this hair in the way,” he complained. “Help me take out these pins.”
I could almost imagine him frowning down at the coil of my deep chestnut tresses. I reached back to assist him, bumping his hand. He pulled back, but not before I felt the rough calluses on his palm. I wondered where he’d gotten them. Most gentlemen’s hands were smoother than my own, as mine were chapped from the paint, linseed oil, and turpentine I used to create my artwork.
“Talented as I am, it will probably go faster if I just let you do it,” he jested in a tight voice, taking a step back from the chair to give me space to work.
My skin flushed at the reminder that what I was doing was normally associated with a far more carnal activity than examining a wound. The only men who had ever seen my hair down were my husband, father, brother, and perhaps Philip. I wasn’t certain how I felt adding Mr. Gage to that list.
Great sexual tension! A part of me wanted to shout Just do it! But, of course, this being an historical, I must be patient. All in due time, right?
Have a great weekend, everyone. Coming up next Friday: The Haunting of Maddy Clare.