On a storm-shrouded island, ghosts of the past threaten to kill again.
Sheeva Desmond always believed she’d marry for love. But when she’s left penniless after her parents’ deaths and her fiance cancels their wedding, she’s convinced love is a fairy tale. Desperate to find a way to support herself, she takes a position as a governess to a troubled mute boy. She never expects to lose her heart to the boy’s handsome father. Or to become entangled in a deadly mystery.
Ronan Quinn, Master of Rathlin Island, spent years in an unhappy marriage. When his faithless wife threatens to leave him and is later found dead, he blames himself for not keeping her safe. He’s left with a hardened heart and a devastated young son. The beautiful governess he hires may have the courage to help his son and to heal Ronan’s soul. But, a murderer from his past haunts the shadows and threatens them all.
Publisher and Release date: Elusive Press, October 2013
Time and Setting: Victorian Ireland
Genre: Gothic Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 4 stars
Review by Julie Whiteley
Ask anyone that follows my reviews and they will tell you that there are two words in fiction that grab my attention like no other. One is “Noir”, (that’s a story for another day), and the other word is “Gothic”.
This book is an homage to the Gothic traditions of Jane Eyre and Rebecca. The author is obviously a fan of this genre and followed the rules for a gothic mystery while also creating a style of her own.
Ronan is not the most charming or romantic fellow and Sheeva is a strong willed, take-charge type girl, mostly because she has to be. Sheeva also becomes obsessed with the mystery surrounding the death of the beautiful Catherine.
Meanwhile, Ronan is concerned about smugglers and doesn’t want Sheeva wandering around the island unsupervised.
Sheeva must also deal with the caretaker who still has the utmost loyalty for her former mistress.
The suspense builds as Sheeva is convinced she has witnessed the ghostly apparition of Catherine and the servants all speak in quiet tones behind her back. Her refuge is in the progress Ronan’s traumatized son is making under her tutelage.
The most disturbing thing Ronan and Sheeva face is the attraction they have for one another.
Is Sheeva in danger and if so from whom? Her former fiance? One of the servants? The Ghost of Chatherine? The Smugglers?
Will Ronan’s cold heart melt? Will his son ever speak again?
This genre can be difficult to write because so many these days associate the word “Gothic” with vampires and werewolves. I don’t want to bore you with a lesson on the true nature of Gothic literature, so suffice it to say that vampires have very little to do with the genre, although the possibility of the existence of supernatural beings is often present. The hero is usually mysterious and can seem cold or mean even at times, and the heroine was often an innocent damsel in distress. In this book, the author gives us a girl with little or no resources who must depend on others for work and a place to stay. Sheeva is no shrinking violet and stands up to Ronan, which earns both the readers’ respect and his. This slight updating of the genre is most welcome, since the helpless female often featured in older novels can be unattractive for the modern reader.
Ms English does a great job of staying true to the genre and making it appealing for today’s readers. It has a strong romance, mystery and intrigue and a heart-tugging story of healing and redemption.
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
**At time of writing, Mistress of Raghery is available from Amazon for $4.19**