The Anatomist Wife by Anna Lee Huber

January 24, 2013

I, I, I, I, I!
First person, groan.  I started to read The Anatomist Wife last year when it first came out, but first person POVs make me shudder, so I put it back in my TBR pile.  Well, since then I've stumbled through a number of first person narratives and even though I hatesssss just one POV I decided to give this one another chance.  And I'm glad I did.

The Anatomist Wife is Anna Lee Huber's debut novel and the first in the Lady Darby Mystery series.  Since it's the Lady Darby Mystery series, and since Lady Darby is the heroine, we know she makes it through the first book alive.  I have a very good reason for saying that.  You see, this is a murder mystery.  Kiera, Lady Darby, is our heroine and her background is one of the things that makes this book very interesting.  Kiera is seeking shelter at her sister's home after the death of her horrible, despicable husband.  She's actually doing more than seeking shelter - she's hiding.  Not only is she hiding physically, she's also psychologically underground.  She is just a mass of fear.  Her only solace is her painting, which she can escape into. So she just vants to be alone.  Well, too bad!  Who does she think she is, Greta Garbo?  It's party time!  Her sister is having a party!  This is not just any party, but a party where one of the guests is murdered.  A scream in the night is heard.  Don't go toward it Kiera, don't go...too late.  She stumbles right into a blood-soaked scene replete with a body, a shrieking, fainting woman and a couple of suspects. 

I would have to say this was an old fashioned whodunnit.  Suspects allllll over the place. Noises in the dark, dank spooky castle, invisible eyes watching the heroine, especially when she's where she's not supposed to be.  I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. I guessed the villain right away and then I thought, “No, not that person.”  However, it turned out I was right, just not for the reason I thought.

I liked Kiera.  Her past life with her husband is all very interesting.  There is a fascinating tie-in with the real historical characters Burke and Hare...dreadfully gruesome people.  Anyway, Kiera's husband was an anatomist...a really nasty piece of work.  Unbeknownst to her, he chose her because he wanted someone to draw his anatomy work.  She is appalled, hurt and humiliated when she finds out why he married her.  However, it is the 1830s and there is no easy way out for her, so she is forced to use the art she loves so much to record his bloody work.  Finally, he dies, but there is a question about just how he obtained the bodies.  Suspicions abound.  Did all of those dead people die a natural death or were people being murdered to provide him with his work?  And although Kiera had no part in the gathering of bodies, society doesn't believe her innocent.  There is a profusion of ridiculous rumors whizzing around her.  She is reviled by most everyone, except her family.  Hence the hiding out.  I found Kiera's character to be fully developed and was intrigued as the author slowly brought her out of the shadows. 

Now, we come to the reason I'm not a big fan of first person POV.  Sebastian Gage, our hero.  He's sexy, smart, witty, fun, charming, handsome, protective, strong...but like the scarecrow, he has no brain.  We never get to hear what he's thinking, never see inside his head and this drives me crazy.  I like to know what my heroes are thinking.  Oh sure, sure, I've read a gazillion romance novels.  I know what a tense shoulder, groan, gasp, growl, hiding behind a chair means.  I've seen what happens to heroes when the heroine's luxurious hair escapes the tight knot on top of her head.  But, I want to know for sure, I want to see the actual words in his brain.  I want to know what drives Sebastian to do the things he does.  Why can’t he look into the heroines eyes?  Why does he start to say something and then stop?  What is he thinking when he is watching the heroine intensely?  Why does he keep clearing his throat?  I hatessss first person.  Oh well, nothing I can do about it.

One other thing, there were moments in the story when the author used some modern slang...but that didn't throw me out of the story too much.  It was just enough to make a note of it.  Overall, this was a diverting read.  Enjoyed the mystery, enjoyed Kiera's taking charge of her life and even though I don't know what he was thinking; I thought that Sebastian made a nice hero.  I'm also looking forward to the next in the series.  I'm looking forward to where Ms. Huber is going to lead us.  Hopefully she'll give Sebastian his brain in the next book...or maybe just a Doctor of Thinkology diploma.

Time/Place: 1830 Scotland
Sensuality: Sweet

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