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Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to relaxing with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series. Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her ne Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to relaxing with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series. Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her new friend, the Duchess of Bowmont's portrait, as well as attending the duchess' annual Twelfth Night party. Though she normally avoids such fashionable events, Kiera trusts the attention will not be focused on her, but rather her notorious hostess and her family. But upon their arrival at the opulent Scottish estate, Kiera and her husband and fellow investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, swiftly deduce that all is not merry in the duke's household. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes. However, matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the merrymakers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castle's crypt. This corpse is certainly no laughing matter, especially when it is identified as the duchess' son-in-law, the Earl of Helmsdale, who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage step in to investigate, at the duchess' insistence. Kiera and Gage must swiftly reexamine the facts, for a ruthless murderer walks among them and may well be a member of the duchess' own family. Kiera soon discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.


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Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to relaxing with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series. Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her ne Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to relaxing with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series. Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her new friend, the Duchess of Bowmont's portrait, as well as attending the duchess' annual Twelfth Night party. Though she normally avoids such fashionable events, Kiera trusts the attention will not be focused on her, but rather her notorious hostess and her family. But upon their arrival at the opulent Scottish estate, Kiera and her husband and fellow investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, swiftly deduce that all is not merry in the duke's household. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes. However, matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the merrymakers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castle's crypt. This corpse is certainly no laughing matter, especially when it is identified as the duchess' son-in-law, the Earl of Helmsdale, who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage step in to investigate, at the duchess' insistence. Kiera and Gage must swiftly reexamine the facts, for a ruthless murderer walks among them and may well be a member of the duchess' own family. Kiera soon discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.

30 review for A Stroke of Malice

  1. 4 out of 5

    ♥Rachel♥

    I flew through the Lady Darby series last year after reading and loving Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent series. Both are delightful! When we meet Lady Kiera Darby at the beginning of the series, she is a woman ostracized by society when they found out her late husband had her sketch the dead bodies he dissected for an anatomy journal he planned on publishing. At the time fresh bodies were hard to come by, not many would donate their body to science for this purpose, so medical colleges and people l I flew through the Lady Darby series last year after reading and loving Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent series. Both are delightful! When we meet Lady Kiera Darby at the beginning of the series, she is a woman ostracized by society when they found out her late husband had her sketch the dead bodies he dissected for an anatomy journal he planned on publishing. At the time fresh bodies were hard to come by, not many would donate their body to science for this purpose, so medical colleges and people like Sir Darby resorted to buying corpses from questionable sources. It was later found out that some of these suppliers not only robbed fresh graves, but also murdered people to sell as dead medical subjects. Kiera had no knowledge of this, and even if she did there wasn’t much she could’ve done about it since her husband was forcing her to comply by force and threats. He was an awful man, as we learn from Kiera’s memories, and so I was thrilled he died before we’re introduced to her. This unwanted, unsolicited knowledge of anatomy as well as Kiera’s superb deductive skills make her valuable source of information to Gage, an inquiry agent tasked to solve a murder while staying at her sister’s estate. In Kiera’s estimations, Gage is entirely too full of himself, and the rest, as they say, is history! Each installment tackles a new mystery, while at the center of the series is the relationship between Kiera and Gage. Ms. Huber masterfully created two wonderfully complex characters, faults and all, so of course their journey isn’t all smooth sailing, but I’ve loved every minute! This is the eighth book in the series, so if you read on, you’re bound to get some spoilers. If you’re planning on reading the series, which I totally recommend, I’d stop right here and go search for the first book! I highly recommend the audio version as Heather Wilds’ performance is perfection! In A Stroke of Malice Kiera and Gage are intent on relaxing, spending time with family while enjoying the festivities of a Twelfth Night Celebration at the Duchess of Beaumont’s estate in Scotland. This is a happy time for Kiera and Gage, still newly married and expecting their first child. I adore these two together, settled and joyous in their situation! Unfortunately, the happy times are rudely interrupted by the discovery of a dead body in crypt. Gage and Kiera must find out the identity of the body as well as the murderer which is not made easy by the family or guests involved. The mystery is wrapped up and solved, but as usual I’m left wanting the next story! A copy was kindly provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mei

    Actually not as good as the previous books. Not bad, let me tell, but still the couple lost their shine. Or, better to say, they became a usual one. Even the mystery was less mysterious! LOL

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    Kiera and Gage are visiting Sunlaws Castle for a Twelfth Night party. They are touring a relatively inaccessible area of the castle when a body is discovered. The Duke and Duchess request that Kiera and Gage investigate, but it becomes clear that almost everyone has secrets, and something to hide. Is Lady Eleanor’s faithless husband dead? If not, why has he been incommunicado for so long? Who is the dead man? The expectant Kiera and her husband aim to discover the truth, although it is clear tha Kiera and Gage are visiting Sunlaws Castle for a Twelfth Night party. They are touring a relatively inaccessible area of the castle when a body is discovered. The Duke and Duchess request that Kiera and Gage investigate, but it becomes clear that almost everyone has secrets, and something to hide. Is Lady Eleanor’s faithless husband dead? If not, why has he been incommunicado for so long? Who is the dead man? The expectant Kiera and her husband aim to discover the truth, although it is clear that their personal safety may be at risk, since someone seems bound and determined to keep them in the dark. Another excellent historical mystery from Anna Lee Huber, this novel is recommended for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Thanks to Netgalley and to the publisher for this ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Adamek

    4.5 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I love this series so much! Lady Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are back solving another murder while at a twelfth night party at the Duchess of Bowmonts Scottish estate. Keira and Sebastian stumble upon another dead body while on a ghost tour of the estate and with the help of Anderley and Bree try to find out who among the duchesses family is the murder. Unable to identify the body they believe it to be the estranged husband of the duchesses daughter. What follows is a whirlwind investig I love this series so much! Lady Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are back solving another murder while at a twelfth night party at the Duchess of Bowmonts Scottish estate. Keira and Sebastian stumble upon another dead body while on a ghost tour of the estate and with the help of Anderley and Bree try to find out who among the duchesses family is the murder. Unable to identify the body they believe it to be the estranged husband of the duchesses daughter. What follows is a whirlwind investigation and Keira is not sure who they can trust. Lovable rake Marsdale is back (although he is among the suspects) along with Keira’s brother Trevor and Keira’s sister and her husband. We were also reintroduced to Lord Henry who may be a more important character going forward. On a side note I would love to see more of the story with Bree and Anderlys growing romance.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    The winter holidays spent with family in Scotland and a Twelfth Night Ball at her new friend the Duchess of Bowmont's Scottish castle home seem just the thing for Kiera and Gage after the perils of their last case in London. Then a body turns up and the ducal family secrets might very well play a part. A Stroke of Malice is the eighth of the Lady Darby mysteries that must be read in order to see how personal and relationship ties progress through the series. The mystery in this one is an unidentif The winter holidays spent with family in Scotland and a Twelfth Night Ball at her new friend the Duchess of Bowmont's Scottish castle home seem just the thing for Kiera and Gage after the perils of their last case in London. Then a body turns up and the ducal family secrets might very well play a part. A Stroke of Malice is the eighth of the Lady Darby mysteries that must be read in order to see how personal and relationship ties progress through the series. The mystery in this one is an unidentified dead body that exposes an already notorious Kerr family to closer inspection. The duke and duchess produced their heir and spare and both have gone their own ways with lovers. The children between them and from their peccadilloes are loved by their acknowledged parents and are loving to one another. Kiera is not used to such arrangements and situations especially since her own growing up and recent marriage are very different. But, the facade is veneer thin and she sees how dark deeds like murder and abuse, jealousy and spite can be hidden when the family closes ranks and makes the investigation tougher. And, if that weren't complicated enough, their old friend Marsdale is mixed up in it all and one of the Kerr family secrets touches her and Sebastian personally. Loved all the twists and turns, tension and thrills throughout. Kiera is well into her pregnancy and struggling with her own dark thoughts of being a fit mother, juggling a career as an inquiry agent with family and home, and overcoming her unearned, dark reputation forced on her by her late husband's anatomist work. Sebastian is fully supportive though he can't help his qualms when their inquiry case gets long and dangerous and Kiera is all but dropping with fatigue and nearly gets killed and the baby harmed when a murderer thinks they're getting too close. I do enjoy how these personal and marital elements are as strong as the mystery in each book. The series narrator, Heather Wilds, was as fabulous as usual voicing a large cast of Scottish and British, upper and lower classes, older and young. She catches the emotional tone of each scene and that sometimes spooky quality this series can get from the settings. All in all, A Stroke of Malice struck the chord pitch perfect and left me needing the next installment as soon as possible. This historical mystery series dosed with a good portion of romance and character-development is one I highly recommend, particularly in audio. My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    "We do have a tendency to trip over murdered corpses and befriend people who find themselves in trouble". Such a joy to read a Lady Darby mystery! In A Stroke of Malice, Lady Darby has been contracted to paint the portrait of a duchess. Instead, Lady Darby and Mr. Gage find themselves heading a murder inquest. The duchess and her children have secrets aplenty and just when I thought I'd figured things out, there was another twist in the story. I especially loved the chapter ending cliff hangers. T "We do have a tendency to trip over murdered corpses and befriend people who find themselves in trouble". Such a joy to read a Lady Darby mystery! In A Stroke of Malice, Lady Darby has been contracted to paint the portrait of a duchess. Instead, Lady Darby and Mr. Gage find themselves heading a murder inquest. The duchess and her children have secrets aplenty and just when I thought I'd figured things out, there was another twist in the story. I especially loved the chapter ending cliff hangers. The entire Lady Darby series is highly recommended for readers that enjoy historical mysteries. My gratitude to publisher Berkley for a complimentary copy of the novel. I was not required to post a review and all opinions expressed are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sometime

    This book really hit the spot today! The writing was superb, the plotting perfect, the characters amazing. I enjoyed this immensely and I'm sure it's due to the fact that Kiera is finally at peace with her past and no longer spends pages and pages angsting over her inadequacies and doubts. This book is straight up mystery at its best. The H/h and their relationship is always the best part of the series, and the reason I keep coming back for more. Safety(view spoiler)[Our H/h are amazing as always This book really hit the spot today! The writing was superb, the plotting perfect, the characters amazing. I enjoyed this immensely and I'm sure it's due to the fact that Kiera is finally at peace with her past and no longer spends pages and pages angsting over her inadequacies and doubts. This book is straight up mystery at its best. The H/h and their relationship is always the best part of the series, and the reason I keep coming back for more. Safety(view spoiler)[Our H/h are amazing as always with no cheating or OM/OW drama. They are completely devoted to each other. There is rampant cheating by side characters in the story and a harsh look at what a society marriage consisted of at the time. No scenes, just discussion. At one point Kiera gets pushed down some stone steps and is lucky she didn't lose her baby. When they find out who did it, there wasn't nearly as much anger as there should have been. She could have died and while they aren't happy about it, everyone just seems to move on too quickly. I realize there is nothing they could have done, but I was so mad on her behalf, I wanted some comeuppance! (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)

    This series has quickly become a favorite of mine. From the flawless beautiful writing to the wonderful settings and riveting mysteries it truly is captivating. I adore the characters and with each new story, I love them even more. This has truly become such a treat and a series that I have quickly devoured. My only regret is that I read them so quickly over the course of the month that now I have a long wait until the next book. Truly a series ever lover of this genre needs to check out and rea This series has quickly become a favorite of mine. From the flawless beautiful writing to the wonderful settings and riveting mysteries it truly is captivating. I adore the characters and with each new story, I love them even more. This has truly become such a treat and a series that I have quickly devoured. My only regret is that I read them so quickly over the course of the month that now I have a long wait until the next book. Truly a series ever lover of this genre needs to check out and read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    I seriously think that Anna Lee Huber just needs to write all of the books. She is concurrently writing two of my absolute favourite series in the genre and each experience is so fulfilling and wondrous. Yet while Kiera and Gage differ so greatly from Verity and Sidney, at the heart of each experience are two men who are blindsighted to fall for incredible centered and intelligent women so different than the norm of their respective time periods. Here, atmosphere galore swirls around a Scottish e I seriously think that Anna Lee Huber just needs to write all of the books. She is concurrently writing two of my absolute favourite series in the genre and each experience is so fulfilling and wondrous. Yet while Kiera and Gage differ so greatly from Verity and Sidney, at the heart of each experience are two men who are blindsighted to fall for incredible centered and intelligent women so different than the norm of their respective time periods. Here, atmosphere galore swirls around a Scottish estate's Twelfth Night party which not only provides a wonderful "Closed Room" and cloistered canvas for a thrilling mystery but recalls another delightful Twelfth Night romantic suspense by Deanna Raybourn (if you like one of these authors, you will like the other). I really enjoyed how beyond the usual whoddunit, we continue to see a deep look at a marriage of two individuals so desperately in love with each other while trying to counterbalance their strong wills, intelligence and instinctive drive for the truth. Because Kiera is expecting, the book of course delves into the difficulty of a woman very driven by a want for a family and hearth with her natural abilities. It is what sets Huber's heroes apart that they, of course, recognize that it is the outlier status of the heroines that make them so desirable---though complicates the relationships no less. I often look at Huber's books as authentic explorations of women's roles that transcend time period. For those who want a wonderfully swoony romance and a murder and a creaky manor where things go bump in the night, you get that--- but you also get an overarching exploration on relationships, marriages and the true difficulty of reconciling a love story with tentatively separate desires to see a conclusion no matter the cost. Luckily, Kiera and Gage always meet in the middle

  11. 4 out of 5

    LORI (Dollycas) CASWELL

    Dollycas’s Thoughts Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage have arrived in Traquair, Scotland to attend Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party. There is an eerie undercurrent running through the castle but Kiera and Gage are ready for the big event which begins with trumpets and ends with murder. When Lord Edward leads guests on a ghost tour in catacombs under Kirkbryde Abbey a new corpse is found. It appears the duchessʼs son-in-law is the victim of foul play and the murderer could be Dollycas’s Thoughts Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage have arrived in Traquair, Scotland to attend Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party. There is an eerie undercurrent running through the castle but Kiera and Gage are ready for the big event which begins with trumpets and ends with murder. When Lord Edward leads guests on a ghost tour in catacombs under Kirkbryde Abbey a new corpse is found. It appears the duchessʼs son-in-law is the victim of foul play and the murderer could be one of the party’s guests. At their host’s request, Gage and Kiera find themselves leading the investigation and uncovering some weighty secrets along the way. The characters Anna Lee Huber has created are stellar and their development over the course of the series has been excellent. Even heavy with child Lady Kiera Darby is a force when it comes to getting to the truth. Her husband Sebastian Gage is a caring and loving man who knows what a strong, intelligent woman his wife is. Together they appear to be unstoppable and uncommon for the 1800s. Ms. Huber surrounds these main characters with a diverse cast of supporting characters across all classes of the aristocracy. Gage and Kiera are usually assisted by their servants Bree and Anderley and this time Kiera’s brother is on hand to help as well. The author sets a scene in almost a magical way. From the deep, dank catacombs, to the Sunlaws suites and ballrooms, and the Scottish countryside. The dresses, kilts, and costumes. All the people and places truly come alive with her vivid descriptions. The cover of the book gives the overall chilly feel of the time but Huber’s descriptive detail is like no other. You can almost smell the air, feel the breezes, and hear the clicks of the heels on the floors. She truly does take you into the story in a meaningful way. As I have come to expect from this author, the mystery is very complex and full of stress-filled moments. Everyone seems to be hiding something or holding something back. The lore of ghostly friar that keeps servants on edge adds a nice little twist. The mystery takes Anderley hither and yon and Gage and Kiera into the nearby town and all around the large estate in search of answers. Well-written and plotted, I was totally clueless until the very final clues started to fall into place. This story was one to be savored. I read it over the course of three evenings hurrying through each day so that I could get back to it. A Stroke of Malice is a fantastic addition to this series. I do highly recommend them all. I am very excited about next year’s book in this series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kate Baxter

    This is yet another wonderful addition to Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby mystery series. She had me with the book's opening with a Twelfth Night celebration and if that weren't enough, it's in a Scottish castle, no less. The festive celebration of 1832, was all fun and shenanigans. That is, until the revelers encounter a corpse of relatively recent demise down in the crypt between the castle and the old monastery ruins, tucked in among the medieval monks' bones. Lady Darby and her husband, Sebastia This is yet another wonderful addition to Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby mystery series. She had me with the book's opening with a Twelfth Night celebration and if that weren't enough, it's in a Scottish castle, no less. The festive celebration of 1832, was all fun and shenanigans. That is, until the revelers encounter a corpse of relatively recent demise down in the crypt between the castle and the old monastery ruins, tucked in among the medieval monks' bones. Lady Darby and her husband, Sebastian Gage are quickly called upon to do their discreet inquiries. Many believe they know the identity of the corpse but others have their suspicions. This could be quite the challenge for our dilligent duo, especially as Kiera (Lady Darby) is far along in the family way. I have loved this series from the start with its smart writing and well-researched historical detail. The scenes are richly detailed and the action, riveting at times. The exposure of and poking at the generally accepted (or at least tastefully overlooked) aristocratic social practices of the day, was quite amusing. If you enjoy an historical mystery with a small touch of chaste romance, then this might just be the series for you.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Lady Darby Mystery #8 Publication Date: 4/7/20 Number of Pages: 384 With each new entry in the Lady Darby series, I think it just can’t get any better – but then, it does. This author never fails to intrigue and delight and she has quickly become one of my favorite historical mystery authors. While it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, I would suggest reading at least the first book or two in the series to really understand Kiera’s history. After their harrowing and intense recent visi Series: Lady Darby Mystery #8 Publication Date: 4/7/20 Number of Pages: 384 With each new entry in the Lady Darby series, I think it just can’t get any better – but then, it does. This author never fails to intrigue and delight and she has quickly become one of my favorite historical mystery authors. While it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, I would suggest reading at least the first book or two in the series to really understand Kiera’s history. After their harrowing and intense recent visit to London, Kiera (Lady Darby) and Gage are attending a Twelfth-Night celebration in Scotland at Sunlaws Castle, the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont. It is their intent to celebrate the holiday and for Kiera to finish the painting she had already begun for the duchess before traveling on to Edinburgh for the birth of their child. During the Twelfth-night celebration, the Lord of Misrule decided to take everyone on a ghost tour where, of course, a body was discovered. Who was it? There were no identifying features, no personal possessions, and nobody was missing from the area. Then, how did he even get there? Could it be Lady Eleanor’s husband, the Earl of Helmswick? He is supposed to be in Paris, but he’s sent no communications to anyone since he’s been gone. Except, that isn’t unusual for the Earl, so surely it isn’t him. But, if not him, then who? What an exciting rollercoaster ride of a tale. It is hard to tell who is an enemy and who is a friend or who is a victim. You will be scratching your head from beginning to end and the wrap-up will surprise you. The only constant is Kiera and Gage’s love and respect for each other. I read this book in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. Now, it is hours after I read the last page and it is still on my mind. So, of course, I cannot wait for the next book which is set in cholera ridden Edinburg. Will we finally get to meet the new baby? I hope you will love this book as much as I did – shux – I’m sure you will love it as much as I did because it is an exceptional read. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ceki

    Another amazing mystery by Anna Lee Huber! Can't wait for the next!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lady Wesley

    I give this book a 10 for "Couldn't Put It Down"-ness, because I literally read it all in one sitting. What I Liked: Twelfth Night; house party; Scotland; Sebastian Gage What I Didn't Like: Nothing

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    Another enjoyable Lady Darby mystery!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    When I read Anna Lee Huber's very first Lady Darby mystery, I was hooked, and I eagerly await each next book in the series. I have never been disappointed. In this eighth book in the series, Sebastian and Kiera Gage are happy to be celebrating the new year with friends in 1832. But, as always happens when they are around, a dead body turns up. Which means no relaxing holiday for them. So, together with Gage's faithful valet, Anderly, and Kiera's loyal maid, Bree, the inquiry agents make it their When I read Anna Lee Huber's very first Lady Darby mystery, I was hooked, and I eagerly await each next book in the series. I have never been disappointed. In this eighth book in the series, Sebastian and Kiera Gage are happy to be celebrating the new year with friends in 1832. But, as always happens when they are around, a dead body turns up. Which means no relaxing holiday for them. So, together with Gage's faithful valet, Anderly, and Kiera's loyal maid, Bree, the inquiry agents make it their business to solve yet another gruesome murder. Only now, Kiera is six month's pregnant and must take it easy, as she learns to her detriment in this sprawling castle in which they've been invited to and must now investigate the murder. And there are a host of suspects at the Duchess of Bowmont's Twelfth Night Party! Huber is very skillful at engaging her readers in each crime she invents for these wonderful books. I particularly enjoy being invited inside Lady Darby's (Kiera's) mind as she delves into the murders she and Gage solves. And then Huber takes us deeper and deeper into the lives of those invited to the party and we soon find out that nearly everyone had a motive for being the perpetrator of the deadly crime. And, of course, each book ends on a note that makes us eager to read the next book. If only it weren't so long between them! Recommended. *My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carole (in Canada)

    "Secrets are like poison within a family." (quote from the book) And secrets abound in this latest Lady Darby mystery! Hoping to enjoy the Twelfth Night ball with friends and family at the Duchess of Bowmont's Sunlaws Castle and continue painting her portrait, the undercurrents coursing through the party make this difficult to do for Kiera and Sebastian Gage. The stage is set, the players in place. With anonymous notes being delivered for private assignations, more than mischief is afoot. When ta "Secrets are like poison within a family." (quote from the book) And secrets abound in this latest Lady Darby mystery! Hoping to enjoy the Twelfth Night ball with friends and family at the Duchess of Bowmont's Sunlaws Castle and continue painting her portrait, the undercurrents coursing through the party make this difficult to do for Kiera and Sebastian Gage. The stage is set, the players in place. With anonymous notes being delivered for private assignations, more than mischief is afoot. When taken on a tour of the castle and 'the doom' by the 'Lord of Misrule', they stumble upon a very unexpected item that they soon find the mate to...attached to a dead body. "But with deeper breaths emerged a new scent - one that was faint but somehow familiar, though mingled with the dirt, the damp, and the musk of ancient stone I found it difficult to place. Whatever it was left a sour taste at the back of my throat that with each swallow made the lump of uneasiness forming in my gut grow bigger." (quote from the book) On top of all this, Kiera is six months pregnant. But, of course, this does not stop her and Gage, at the request of the Duke and Duchess, to look into this matter for them. What they are hoping for is truthfulness from the family, but each are hiding something...but is it related to the murder? I thoroughly enjoyed unraveling this mystery. I was proven correct as to the 'why' but the 'who' didn't come as quickly. I love how Kiera and Gage's relationship deepens even further through each book. It simmers throughout this one. "Then he lifted my hand to his lips and pressed a fervent kiss into the palm, followed by another and another. When he finally lowered it, I curled my fingers around the moistness his breath had left behind and carried it up to my heart." (quote form the book) Again, the writing is beautiful, atmospheric and haunting. The bonds of family are tested and justice may not be found. "There was a sadness, a loneliness clinging to these stones, as if the gusts whipping through the arches were not merely wind, but the very sighs of the foundations themselves...I reached up to press a hand to the chiseled limestone, offering it my comfort, my consolation...it seemed the right thing to do... (quote from the book) Each book builds upon the other, so I do recommend you start at the beginning with "The Anatomist's Wife". Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Well, surprise upon surprise! Sebastian Gage and Lady Kiera Derby are all set to enjoy Twelfth Night Ball revels courtesy of the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont at their palatial castle Sunlaws in Scotland. They're an unusual couple whom like so much of "the nobility [didn't] marry for love, but married for wealth and connections." Taking lovers is par for the course. They have a spawned family of legitimate and illegitimate children who are close and supportive, accepted and loved as one. Keira is p Well, surprise upon surprise! Sebastian Gage and Lady Kiera Derby are all set to enjoy Twelfth Night Ball revels courtesy of the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont at their palatial castle Sunlaws in Scotland. They're an unusual couple whom like so much of "the nobility [didn't] marry for love, but married for wealth and connections." Taking lovers is par for the course. They have a spawned family of legitimate and illegitimate children who are close and supportive, accepted and loved as one. Keira is pregnant and has been looking forward to working on a portrait of the Duchess before going into seclusion. The last thing she and Gage want is a murder to solve. When on a ghost tour through the castle as part of the Twelfth Night romp, a body is discovered, Kiera and Gage's sojourn becomes an investigation into what happened, at the bequest of the family. Assured full disclosure by them, Gage and Kiera find the opposite. Secrets and half truths become blockages to solving who the corpse might be. Gage's valet Anderley is dispatched to the Bowmont's son-in-law's estate near Haddington to help sort things out, despite cholera raging through that area. There's some thought the body might be Lord Helmsfield's. That needs to be verified. Bree, Kiera's maid lends a supportive hand to the task. When Kiera finds herself at risk, it's obvious that things are becoming dangerous and secrets have a way of causing harm. Sunlaw Castle is atmospherically just the place for a Gage and Darby mystery to present itself. I drank in the heightened descriptions of this sprawling place, complete with not the so secret passages leading "into the catacombs beneath the ruins of Kirkbryde Abbey." With a rumoured ghostly friar and the various staircases leading all over the place like Hogwarts rising from the mists of time, this is a bone chilling setting. Fabulous! I was riveted by Gage and Kiera's process towards unravelling the mystery surrounding the dead body. I was charmed as always by their personal interactions, and as new twists kept being added to the ongoing story of Kiera and Gage, I was enthralled. Later, Kiera and Gage head for Edinburgh to await the birth of their child. Despite wanting to stay away from further mysteries at this stage, the story intimates that this just may not be the case. A Berkley Group ARC via NetGalley

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Anna Lee Huber has hit another home-run with A Stroke of Malice. One of my favorite fictional sleuthing couples, Lady Darby and Sebastian Gage, discover a body at a house party and the stage is set for danger as they seek answers. The beautiful setting of a Scottish castle and abandoned abbey provide a marvelous backdrop for intrigue with a cast of complex characters filling the pages of this captivating story. The depth of Ms. Huber's writing is remarkable. The pacing and unraveling of the plot Anna Lee Huber has hit another home-run with A Stroke of Malice. One of my favorite fictional sleuthing couples, Lady Darby and Sebastian Gage, discover a body at a house party and the stage is set for danger as they seek answers. The beautiful setting of a Scottish castle and abandoned abbey provide a marvelous backdrop for intrigue with a cast of complex characters filling the pages of this captivating story. The depth of Ms. Huber's writing is remarkable. The pacing and unraveling of the plot is superb, allowing the author to dig deeper into the human spirit and the many relationships we share with one another as a parent, child, sibling, spouse, lover or friend. As the seams of these relationships unravel, Huber addresses the innermost motivations of love, loyalty and the consequences of long buried secrets. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    4.5 stars 2019 wasn’t even over yet before I sunk my teeth into this one on a cold December afternoon. I adore this series and couldn’t resist picking this one up well before the official release date to see what adventures Gage and Lady Darby get up to this time around! I am sure a huge fan of Anna Lee Huber, I have read every single book she’s written and while some are better than others, both her Lady Darby and Verity Kent series are solid and tried and true favorites of mine and I would gladl 4.5 stars 2019 wasn’t even over yet before I sunk my teeth into this one on a cold December afternoon. I adore this series and couldn’t resist picking this one up well before the official release date to see what adventures Gage and Lady Darby get up to this time around! I am sure a huge fan of Anna Lee Huber, I have read every single book she’s written and while some are better than others, both her Lady Darby and Verity Kent series are solid and tried and true favorites of mine and I would gladly clear my calendar for any of her books! I picked this one up on a Friday afternoon, by Saturday night I was done with it. It was a great read that had a lot of red herrings to keep readers guessing! The last book I read in this series was one that I would not recommend reading without having read the previous novels, however this one I think a new reader could easily pick it up and fall in love with Lady Darby and her dashing husband, Sebastian Gage. But the question is, why would you want to? This is such a fun series that even if some of the books can be read out of order, you will want to return to these characters and their mysteries again and again. This book had a lot of characters to keep track of admittedly and a lot about bloodlines. I did have to play close attention to who was related to who and how which kept me focused on the story but at times distracted a little from the plot because I had to stop and think who was who. The murder victim in this story isn’t identified until much later in the story which makes this a challenging case for Lady Darby and Gage. There are also a lot of people in the house with motive and means to kill the victim and I loved how many different red herrings there were, just when I thought I knew who had done it, something would happen to make me question if I was right or not. I loved seeing how Gage and Lady Darby worked together to try and ferret out the killer. It was a different approach than in the previous books and I thought it kept things interesting and fresh. This was an excellent installment in a solid series and one that I think keeps getting better and better with each book. The only thing that I struggled with in this one was the lack of progression between Lady Darby and Gage. They are expecting a baby and I suspect that the next book will have a lot more changes in store for Gage and his wife, but in this book the focus was truly on the mystery and the supporting characters who will likely be making appearances in future mysteries. I can’t wait to see what is in store for Gage and Lady Darby in the next book and I wonder if perhaps the next book will explore the hint of romance between Anderly and Bree. Looking forward to the next one! See my full review here

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Full review can be found here: https://www.criminalelement.com/book-... Full review can be found here: https://www.criminalelement.com/book-...

  23. 5 out of 5

    gwendalyn _books_

    This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own A Stroke of Malice is the latest in the long running Lady Darby series and as such, I would recommend reading the previous books in the series to get the most enjoyment out of this one; the mystery works as a stand alone, but many of the characters have appeared in previous books, along with their backstory. Following the events of the prev This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own A Stroke of Malice is the latest in the long running Lady Darby series and as such, I would recommend reading the previous books in the series to get the most enjoyment out of this one; the mystery works as a stand alone, but many of the characters have appeared in previous books, along with their backstory. Following the events of the previous book, Kiera, Lady Darby, and her husband Sebastian Gage have agreed to attend a house party hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont for 12th Night. Kiera has been busy working on a painting of the Duchess and will continue to work on it while visiting their remote castle in Scotland. Along with Kiera and Gage, Kiera's sister Alana, brother-in-law, and brother are also in attendance. The duke and duchess are both to have scandalous reputations. It’s even common knowledge that the duchess's younger children are not the duke's even though he has acknowledged them as such. During a ball to celebrate the season, Lord Edward takes some of the guests, including Kiera and Gage, on a ghost tour of the castle. While visiting catacombs under the castle where a friar is said to haunt, the group is stunned to come across a recently deceased man. Unable to confirm the deceased's identity, due to the deterioration of the body, but suspecting it could be someone closely related to the family, Kiera and Gage agree to on the investigation. The investigation is far from easy when it quickly becomes obvious that the duchess and her family have many secrets that they seeming willing to do anything to keep, but does that include murder? Kiera is six months pregnant, headstrong and determined to not only confirm the identity of the victim but to also figure out who did it. This captivating novel is lively with its twists and turns, that makes this engaging mystery one will keep you be guessing all the way through to the final reveal. I enjoy character development of both Gage and Kiera as their relationship continued to evolve into a solid marriage. There are some interesting plot developments, and intriguing sub characters that I'm excited to see playout in the authors future books. This delightful series is one that keeps getting better with the addition of new installments

  24. 5 out of 5

    BookishLor

    5/5 stars I loved this new addition to the series so much. It truly made me fall in love with these characters, historical fiction novels and this series all over again! Synopsis Kiera and Sebastian Gage are back and stumbling over bodies again. When a body is discovered at the Duchess of Bowmont's Scottish castle during a Twelfth Night party, what else can our hero and heroine do but jump right into the investigation and possible danger! Pacing & Points of View I loved that the story was set in an a 5/5 stars I loved this new addition to the series so much. It truly made me fall in love with these characters, historical fiction novels and this series all over again! Synopsis Kiera and Sebastian Gage are back and stumbling over bodies again. When a body is discovered at the Duchess of Bowmont's Scottish castle during a Twelfth Night party, what else can our hero and heroine do but jump right into the investigation and possible danger! Pacing & Points of View I loved that the story was set in an atmospheric, enormous Scottish castle next to abbey ruins. Kiera was the sole point of view throughout the mystery and it was probably what helped make this mystery's pacing faster than most. The mystery itself flowed really well without being easily guessed. Characters I love a good mystery, but my favorite parts in this story were the interactions between characters. It felt like there was so much more heart and intimate moments between all my favorite characters, especially Kiera and Sebastian, this time around! This story had a lot of really good moments between the romantic couples in this series as well as new romances popping up! I'm interested to see how certain relationships evolve in the upcoming books. I'm also excited to see how parenthood changes Kiera and Sebastian's lives during investigations as well as the relationships with the side characters around them. Overall I really loved this new mystery that added so much to the series overall! It made me want to go back and read everything from the start just to fall in love with these characters and this series again! *Thank you so much to Berkley publishing and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Watson

    Book Eight of the Lady Darby Series has the happy couple attending a Twelfth Night Event at the Duchess of Bowmont's Castle. The elite gathering, started earlier in the day with the heralding of Trumpets while each guest drew a role to play at the Event. The evening revelry soon descends into drunkenness and fissures appear beneath the jibing, prompting Lord Edward to do a ghost tour. The guests all are led into the basement with its damp, cold and rats. But the real terror lies in the catacombs Book Eight of the Lady Darby Series has the happy couple attending a Twelfth Night Event at the Duchess of Bowmont's Castle. The elite gathering, started earlier in the day with the heralding of Trumpets while each guest drew a role to play at the Event. The evening revelry soon descends into drunkenness and fissures appear beneath the jibing, prompting Lord Edward to do a ghost tour. The guests all are led into the basement with its damp, cold and rats. But the real terror lies in the catacombs under Kirkbryde Abbey and joined at the very far corner of the Castle by an opening in the stonework. Led deeper into the underground of gray stonework, and the ghost of a monk, the story takes a bizarre twist for the guests. Who is the new body placed there... that met such violence, for the the face has been chewed by Rats. Kiera, Lady Darby decides to help the family and pursue a murderer. I had these books recommended to me by a friend, who devoured them. I can see why... Anna Lee Huber writes with a deft touch and very eerie overtones. Who could resist all the elements of the aristocracy during the 1830's? The parties, costumes, love affairs and as an added spice- murder, start the book in the first four chapters. The tension builds as Lady Darby and her Husband Sebastian Gage track a murderer? This story has all the makings of the great Gothics of the 1970's. Who could resist unknown corpses, rats, underground catacombs, suspicious characters, and a tense build-up leading to the last page? My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daniele

    While attending a house party celebrating Twelfth Night, the revelers discover a body in the castle’s crypt. Too badly decomposed to be able to tell the deceased’s identity, their host, Duchess of Bowmont, implores Kiera and Gage to investigate. They soon find the notorious Bowmont family has secrets on top of their secrets, and everyone assumes the body is Lord Helmswick, Lady Eleanor’s husband, but Kiera and Gage want to know for sure and face danger to find the truth. A STROKE OF MALICE, the s While attending a house party celebrating Twelfth Night, the revelers discover a body in the castle’s crypt. Too badly decomposed to be able to tell the deceased’s identity, their host, Duchess of Bowmont, implores Kiera and Gage to investigate. They soon find the notorious Bowmont family has secrets on top of their secrets, and everyone assumes the body is Lord Helmswick, Lady Eleanor’s husband, but Kiera and Gage want to know for sure and face danger to find the truth. A STROKE OF MALICE, the striking eighth Lady Darby book, just might be the best yet of the series. It has a wonderful Golden Age of mystery locked room feel to it and gothic elements to make it even more spine tingling. The castle setting is both opulent and foreboding. Huber’s attention to detail envelops readers in early nineteenth century Scotland. The mystery is captivating with plenty of suspects, clues, and puzzles to figure out. Kiera and Gage are as charming as ever, and I love how much Gage cherishes and respects Kiera. Their working and personal relationships continue to grow and change. A STROKE OF MALICE is a wonderful historical mystery. Highly recommended. I received and ARC of this title from the author/publisher and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Anna Lee Huber is one of my favorite authors, and she did not disappoint me with this latest mystery! In this novel, our heroine, Lady Darby -- or as she prefers to be known, Keira/Mrs. Sebastian Gage -- is now six months pregnant and enjoying the Twelfth Night Party shenanigans with her husband and her family at the castle that is home to the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont. During the festivities, several of them take a tour to the lower parts of the castle and literally stumble upon a dead body wh Anna Lee Huber is one of my favorite authors, and she did not disappoint me with this latest mystery! In this novel, our heroine, Lady Darby -- or as she prefers to be known, Keira/Mrs. Sebastian Gage -- is now six months pregnant and enjoying the Twelfth Night Party shenanigans with her husband and her family at the castle that is home to the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont. During the festivities, several of them take a tour to the lower parts of the castle and literally stumble upon a dead body whose identifying features have been food for the rats that live in the castle's catacombs. While there is reason to suspect the body is that of the Bowmont's nasty son-in-law, the Earl of Helmlick, there is no way to tell. He is supposed to be in Paris on "wink wink" business (or more truthfully, carrying on with a mistress), and their daughter and her brothers can't find any distinguishing marks or identification on the body, save a pair of boots and color of hair on the body. As is usual for this author, there are more than enough additional storylines and intrigue to keep any reader turning the pages to see how everything fits together in the end. A wonderful way to pass a couple of days! HIGHLY RECOMMEND

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janie

    Oh, what fine bones support this series! Pleasure and enjoyment in every title. From the first book, particular people and ordinary-seeming plot structures were established, and that first book was a good one. But the magic of how those same people and structures have developed through the series is amazing! This eighth title in the series, A Stroke of Malice, continues to satisfy, yet with completely different mysteries and murders and in a fresh setting. Those characters we first became attache Oh, what fine bones support this series! Pleasure and enjoyment in every title. From the first book, particular people and ordinary-seeming plot structures were established, and that first book was a good one. But the magic of how those same people and structures have developed through the series is amazing! This eighth title in the series, A Stroke of Malice, continues to satisfy, yet with completely different mysteries and murders and in a fresh setting. Those characters we first became attached to in the earlier titles develop ever more satisfyingly. The intrigues are singular in this latest book, but the same engaging characters work together to make this a compelling read. This was a book I didn't want to quit reading - I loved the clever resolution of the intrigue and the crime. And I avidly soaked up every new development in the story arc across the series. Happily, as with each book's ending, the author is already promising something even better to come in the next release. I am a captive reader: Ready for the next adventure!

  29. 4 out of 5

    marita lazarus

    I really really enjoyed the book and regret I have not read the earlier books in the series - but I am now hooked and have to follow our heroine Lady Darby and Gale The mystery was very well developed with lots of interesting characters and I def was guessing Nani ur the victim and culprit towards the end. Why not 5 stars - I was very very close in fact this book is really 4.5 stars. It’s enjoyable and intelligently written - but it took me a few days to get fully absorbed into the book - perhap I really really enjoyed the book and regret I have not read the earlier books in the series - but I am now hooked and have to follow our heroine Lady Darby and Gale The mystery was very well developed with lots of interesting characters and I def was guessing Nani ur the victim and culprit towards the end. Why not 5 stars - I was very very close in fact this book is really 4.5 stars. It’s enjoyable and intelligently written - but it took me a few days to get fully absorbed into the book - perhaps because I did not have the back story. But again if you follow this author- which I know will - you will def love it. Def a great author and I’m glad I discovered her.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lorena

    In this installment of the Lady Darby mysteries, Kiera and her husband, Sebastian Gage, find themselves at the Duchess of Bowmont's estate, to celebrate at her notorious Twelfth Night party, before Kiera finishes painting the Duchess' portrait. As usual, a dead body appears to spoil what should be a joyous occasion. This mystery has more twists and turns than usual, as no one is actually sure who the body belongs to for much of the book, and nearly all of the suspects are close friends of Kiera In this installment of the Lady Darby mysteries, Kiera and her husband, Sebastian Gage, find themselves at the Duchess of Bowmont's estate, to celebrate at her notorious Twelfth Night party, before Kiera finishes painting the Duchess' portrait. As usual, a dead body appears to spoil what should be a joyous occasion. This mystery has more twists and turns than usual, as no one is actually sure who the body belongs to for much of the book, and nearly all of the suspects are close friends of Kiera and Sebastian. I thought the impact of Kiera's pregnancy on her ability to do her work, and on her mental and emotional state, was particularly well-thought-out and well-handled. And, of course, there were more revelations that raise questions about and deepen our understanding of certain recurring characters. A very enjoyable read in a very enjoyable series!

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