I've been wanting to read Julianna Deering's mysteries starring Drew Farthering for several years now, but I've just never gotten around to them. And now I've read the fourth book in the series first, which is a bit topsy-turvy, but I fully intend to go read the first three books soon. Possibly later this summer, as this was a fast and enjoyable read.
Drew Farthering and his wife Madeline attend a house party at the home of one of Drew's old classmates, Tal Cummins. A week-long house party with a Regency theme, so they have to dress and behave like they're in a Jane Austen novel for a week, basically. That's all well and good, but when another guest dies, secrets get revealed that change the lives of many people there, and Drew finds he can't necessarily save the day for everyone there.
Also, there's a kitten.
This was such a fun mystery! Yes, there was death and ruin and so on, but it never got ugly or terribly sinister. Definitely not creepy. And the Christian faith of the main characters was integral to the story, not an afterthought, but woven very naturally into it, the way real faith permeates the life of non-fictional Christians. I especially appreciated the way the theme of Christian vocation was discussed several times -- Drew questioned whether he ought to be trying to solve mysteries, or if perhaps he needs to give that up, and so on. Very nicely done, and something I ponder myself a lot. I'm a wife and mother -- but I'm also a writer. How much time and energy should I be putting into my writing right now? How much can I do without it detracting from my family calling? And so on. In fact, you'll see below that my two favorite lines from the whole book dealt with this issue.
I really cannot wait to read more of this series.
Particularly Good Bits:
"Doing what you're made to do the best you can do it, even if it's not the usual thing, glorifies God more than pushing yourself into a role you're not suited for" (p. 105).
"Don't let anyone despise the gifts you've been given, and don't you do so, either. They may not fit anyone else's idea of a calling, but the world has all sorts of needs, and God has provided for each of them to be filled, if we all do our part. It would be a shame if your part were left undone" (p. 303).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: a soft PG-13 for violence, drug use, and dangerous situations. No bad language or innuendo at all. People kiss several times.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for me to read while judging the INSPY awards. In no way did I agree to review this book in exchange. These are my honest opinions.