Wish I could give this one two and a half stars. I am caught between "Didn't like it" and "liked it."
Over all, the story was interesting. We get to revisit the characters we met in the first book. However, the momentum of the story really lacked in this one. There was a lot of 'waiting' for something to happen.
Mr. Quent was rarely in the story, and hardly seemed part of the family. Same with Mr. Lockwell, whom, while the issue was semi-resolved, was mostly left to languish in the sanitarium unvisited. Rose and Lily, while present also posed very minor roles, even when present they were barely on the periphery.
The story mainly focused on the three main characters, but their parts seemed very repetetive. The gatherings Ivy attends, and the endless compliments she receives, and yet seems at a complete loss as to how to deal with. The mystery which takes nearly the entire book to build - until it actually *starts* you could not really say what the big issue and mystery is going to be. Except that we knew the doors would play a role.
Mr. Raffirdy's part was mostly the same. The few parties he attends, then his musing about the assemblies he had to attend or about how he feels he has to avoid Mrs. Quent. He doesn't DO much until she retrieves him at the very end.
Of all this, though, I would say Garritt's part was the worst. Not only is it repetitive on his job, and him constantly musing over how he's going to get more money and do what he plans to do, and even when he starts doing it, he's wish-washying around about whether he SHOULD be. But the homosexual aspect which came out of nowhere (no warning for the reader if they should choose to avoid it!) completely ruined any appeal of reading his parts. I mostly ended up skipping or barely skimming his sections entirely. I have seen other books with gay characters, and they at least do little more than mention they are. This took it farther and was not only uncomfortable to read, but quite unnecessary.
All in all, it was nice to see the characters of this book again and the somewhat Jane Austenish style. But this book was *not* particularly worth the time. All in all the story could have been summed up in a couple of chapters and would have saved the reader a lot of effort to get to the main plot. Between the draggy story, and the gay aspects, I would not recommend this book at all.