Guest Author: Deanna Rayburn

Today I’m excited to introduce someone I’ve been a fan of
since the moment I read the opening sentences of her debut novel Silent in the Grave. Deanna Rayburn won the 2008 Rita-award for this work , and her Jane Grey series has since been nominated for an Agatha, a Daphne du Maurier, a Last Laugh, and two Dilys Winns.  To learn more about Deanna Rayburn, visit her website. To purchase her books, visitAmazon or your local bookstore.

To those who haven’t yet delved into this exciting series, rich with deadly suspense and historical detail, you’re in luck!  Today I’m giving away a free copy of Book One in the Julia Grey series, to one random commenter.

And even better, Deanna Rayburn herself has been kind enough to drop in and give us an intro to her books, along with a few thoughts.  So read up, comment away, and don’t forget to say, “Thanks very much, Ms. Rayburn, for sharing your time with us!”

“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.” That is the first line of Silent in the Grave, the first novel in my mysterious Victorian series. The heroine, Lady Julia Grey, a sheltered woman of wealth and privilege, undertakes the investigation of her husband’s murder with the help of a mysterious private inquiry agent, Nicholas Brisbane. The most conventional member of an eccentric family, Lady Julia discovers as much about herself during this investigation as she does her husband’s killer.

The adventure continues in Silent in the Sanctuary, when fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to celebrate the holidays only to find her father’s home crowded with family, friends, and the one man she had hoped to forget—the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane, her one-time partner in detection. But the celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia’s own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her relation’s innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer strikes again.

The third installment of the series, Silent on the Moor, is a story about what happens to people when the past intrudes upon the present. Despite Brisbane’s admonitions to keep away, Lady Julia travels from London to the wilds of Yorkshire only to find that all is not as it seems. The prosperous estate that Brisbane has acquired is a decaying monstrosity, and the previous owners are still in residence, guarding secrets that will not stay buried. As the plot twists and turns, Lady Julia finds herself increasingly isolated as she attempts to unravel the mysteries of Grimsgrave Hall and lay the ghosts of the past. But old sins always come home to roost, and for the inhabitants of the haunted Yorkshire moors, love and hate never die.

For my fourth book, I decided to take a break from the series and write a stand-alone novel, The Dead Travel Fast, which follows a new heroine–Theodora Lestrange, an intrepid Scottish novelist–as she leaves her comfortable Edinburgh home in search of adventure. Intent upon using the spooky setting of Transylvania for her next book, she journeys to the Carpathians to the castle of a childhood friend, expecting a pleasant stay in the countryside. Instead, she finds herself caught up in a terrifying mystery where nothing is what it seems, and Theodora must discover for herself if the intriguing count she has met is a man or a monster…

The Dead Travel Fast has just hit bookstores as a March 2010 release, and as thrilled as I was to have had a chance to create new characters, I’m equally delighted to have a new Lady Julia book—Dark Road to Darjeeling—coming out in October. Working with the Lady Julia characters is like visiting with old friends, even if they are rather eccentric friends in some rather exotic places!

The most exciting thing for me about writing a stand-alone in addition to the series is the chance to “cross-pollinate” readers! I love the idea that someone who loves the Lady Julia series might be lured into dipping a toe into the pool of vampire fiction, while a devoted paranormal fan might just be persuaded to give a Victorian mystery series a try. There are similarities in both—dark heroes, intrepid heroines, and a few colorful eccentrics just for fun—and the series and the stand-alone both deal with themes of love and revenge heightened with a dash of romance. I like giving my characters eternal questions to ponder and mysteries to solve, whether they are peeking behind the velvet curtains of a London drawing room or lying awake in a Transylvanian castle, wondering what just went bump in the night…

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