Review: A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber

Posted February 23, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 22 Comments

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Review: A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber
A Grave Matter

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Lady Darby #3
Genres: Historical Romance, Mystery Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on July 1, 2014
Pages: 421
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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The Delight

Ringing in the New Year at her aunt and uncle’s Hogmanay Ball, Keira is as startled as the rest of the guests when the revelry is interrupted by the announcement that there has been a murder and a grave has been desecrated at the nearby Dryburgh Abbey.  Keira’s dark reputation gains her some rumor-mongering, but her more recent reputation as an amateur detective has her uncle asking her to join in the investigation.  This is a series that is fast becoming addicting and I waited with baited breath to see if Keira and Gage would solve the mystery, but also come to an understanding.


A Grave Matter is the third Lady Darby Mystery and, while the mysteries are standalone, the character and relationship development is carried through the books of the series so it works best in order.

If there is one thing Keira knows, it is bodies thanks to her late anatomist husband who forced her to use her great artistic skill by illustrating the bodies he worked on.  The discovery of her part after his death has shredded her character and had many attribute dark deeds to her.  It also left her with knowledge that can assist in a murder inquiry.  But, for the life of her, Keira can’t figure out why grave robbers would steal the old earl’s skeleton that can’t be used in medical research and neither do they take the effects to sell for money.  Her uncle, Lord Rutherford, is the magistrate and he and Lord Buchan, the abbey’s owner, decide to call in Sebastian Gage as the closest professional inquiry agent to take the case.  Having parted paths after the last emotionally brutal case, agreeing they both need some space, Keira is uneasy about seeing Gage again, but is also longing to see him.

Gage brings with him news that this is not the first of this sort of grave desiccation and the other resulted in a ransom to regain the body.  The ransom note does come and the clock starts ticking on Keira and Gage hunting down the robbers who have now committed murder of the groundskeeper when he interrupted their body snatching.

Meanwhile, she struggles with her tangled feelings and confusion about Gage.  She worries about bestowing her heart after her previous disastrous marriage and worries about the secrets she senses in him.  Then she gets the revelation of one of those secrets and it may just break her heart even as Gage is willing to go to great risk to capture their quarry.

Each book has been building Keira and Gage’s romance like a pressure cooker.  She could barely stand him in the beginning and then doesn’t feel she could ever trust another man again when it came to a relationship and now she is disconcerted about the great need and depth of feeling she has toward a man who has secrets and has a reputation, but is so charming and showed her a side to him that few others know exist.  But, she reciprocated by opening her hidden self including her painful past and her art with him already and he respected her rather than turned away in disgust.

The romance is the focus of this story even as they work hard on their case interviewing witnesses and suspects and drawing closer to the truth.  There were hints about what was going on with Gage and I confess that I wanted to reach through the pages to shake him and insist he just tell her already, but naturally he didn’t and she found out part of what he was hiding in the worst possible way.   She was already questioning his feelings for her since she can’t believe he would truly be interested in someone with her tarnished reputation and status that is beneath his own.  But, there was also point that I was just about done with Keira who was letting her fears from the past override even good sense and she was punishing Gage for what her late husband did to her.  Her brother even called her on it because she tends to bottle everything up, overthink things, and jump to the worst conclusions about Gage in particular.  Fortunately, the angst didn’t last long because they are a formidable pair and electric when in harmony and working together.

The mystery was layered and had some good twists along with danger moments.  There were spooky grave visits which are familiar elements now, dangerous characters, and people with secrets.  I did have the distraction part of the mystery figured out right away and even worked out the overall mystery not long after that so I mostly had to wait for Keira and Gage to get there.  I’ve liked the previous mysteries better, but this wasn’t a bad case.  To be honest, I was more interested in the romance element in this book so I didn’t mind.

As a side-note, I loved all the focus on Scottish holidays and celebrations with Hogmanay, First Foot tradition, Burns Night Party, Auld Lang Syne, and Handsel Day.  It was fun to see these customs added to the author’s careful attention to historical setting and culture in the Scottish Border of 1830’s.

I was well pleased where this left things off and am eager to press forward with more from the series.  If you enjoy a gritty historical mystery along with a smoldering slow burn romance between a brooding heroine and a sexy, charming hero, give this book/series a go.

Challenges Met

Mt. TBR #21
Literary Pickers #35 Travel Bucket List (Scotland)
Historical Fiction #20
Series That Never Ends #2
Reading Assignment #7 Prof Author Luv


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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Mary Kirkland
1 year ago

Sounds like you really liked this one.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

Oh yeah, totally hooked into this series, Mary. 🙂

1 year ago

Oh it looks quite intriguing

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Melliane

Another one for you to put on your list. 🙂

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

Yes, parts of the romance were frustrating for me too, and this mystery wasn’t the best in the lot for me, but I think the audio version helped me enjoy the story just a little more than I would’ve just reading. Heather Wilds is such an awesome performer!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

I got to listen to book one on audio and I totally agree about how much Heather Wilds’ work enhances the story. LOL, I get so vested in the characters that I start muttering at them to get their acts together. 🙂

Anne - Books of My Heart

You and KC enjoy this series and this genre has really always been there in the background waiting because mystery. I can’t resist a mystery. Wonderful review!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

Oh yeah, take the leap, Anne! So many good juicy mysteries set in the past. And, fun how they have to investigate before forensic tech came along. 🙂

1 year ago

I really like the sound of this series, and have been kinda meaning to try them for a while. The covers are consistently nice too. I love the Scottish setting. I need to try these soon!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg

There are so many good ones, but yes, this series is a must for historical fans. The Scottish settings and events have been really prominent. I understand that some books will take us to Ireland, too.

Carole Rae
1 year ago

” building Keira and Gage’s romance like a pressure cooker” love it!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

It was definitely coming to a head sooner rather than later. Great fun seeing them finally start to hash it out.

1 year ago

I can tell this was a win for you, Super Sophia! I like this era, and historical fiction is really quite interesting. I really enjoy that cover too. Hope you had an amazing weekend! Hugs, RO

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  RO P

Yep, we have a winner with this series, Ro. The covers are understated and atmospheric so perfect for the stories. 🙂

Debbie Haupt
1 year ago

I enjoy all the things you mentioned Sophia Rose maybe I’ll check out book 1 for grins to see if I might maybe like it on audio. I also love learning about where holidays and traditions originated. Thanks for sharing!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Debbie Haupt

I listened to the first on audio and loved it. Getting the Scottish holidays and traditions was a fun extra. 🙂

1 year ago

Glad you enjoyed this one- and it sounds like a great series overall. I like that each book has a different mystery but that the relationships grow over the books.


Sophia Rose
1 year ago

That’s how I enjoy my historical mysteries, too,, Lauren. 🙂

Lover of Romance
1 year ago

aww I just love seeing Scottish customs implemented into a story, this sounds like a great solid story especially with the romance not being neglected with all the other factors that come into play here.

Great review.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

It was fun seeing them participate in the Scottish holidays and traditions. I think seeing the attention to all the elements especially the romance makes this a fab series.

Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

I like that this mystery had spooky grave visits and has romance as well. This sounds like a fun series with the amateur detective and all of the twists. I’m glad you’re enjoying it Sophia!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

It sure has a lot going for it and I can’t wait for the next book. 🙂