Tuesday 1 April 2014

Legacy of Darkness by Jane Godman - Book Review

From the Blurb:

1837 Cornwall, England

Orphaned, penniless and reduced to the role of lady's companion, Lucy Alleyne is relieved when a distant relation spirits her away to Castle Athal. But gratitude soon gives way to fear—and unlooked-for pleasure.

The ancient Cornish castle is a dark monument to family, fortune and blood. Within its walls, the Jago family keeps its wards close…and its secrets closer. Lucy is drawn to Tynan, Earl of Athal. The young heir is handsome and caring, yet tortured in his mind like his father before him. Tynan is utterly different from his uncle Uther—a commanding, seductive presence whose leonine power radiates from his every word and gesture.

These two Jago men have innocent Lucy enthralled—mind, soul and body. But if she remains within the poisonous castle keep, with its history of ill-starred passion and madness, a mere broken heart will seem a mercy.

The Review:

Legacy of Darkness was the first title I’ve read from the relatively new Harlequin Shivers line. Described by Harlequin as their new “gothic romance” line, I was both excited and nervous to read my first Shivers. As a dedicated fan of 19th Century gothic fiction, I was a little dubious about how this twist on the genre would be handled by the Shivers’ authors. Would they do homage to my old gothic friends? Or would they trample their memory?

Well the answer to these questions was clear to me mere hours after beginning this novel, when I read the last line of Legacy of Darkness and flopped back in my seat, romantically satisfied and yet half terrified at the same time!

Lucy Alleyne has found a position as a lady's companion to Lady Demelza Jago, a somewhat peculiar woman who has, nonetheless, taken Lucy under her protection. But as part of her new position, Lucy must stay with Demelza at Castle Tenebris, a fortress overwhelmed by the darkness of its past and, Lucy soon discovers, its current inhabitants. Demelza's brother Uther instantly sweeps Lucy off her feet, with tales of the family's past and his own seductive powers. But he has secrets and none more so than those surrounding his nephew Earl Tynan. Despite being warned away from Tynan, Lucy finds herself drawn to his honest kindness, but both men are surrounded by the castle's darkness. Lucy must negotiate the horrors that haunt the fortress, before she can negotiate the feelings of her heart.

And what horrors they are! The castle is one of secret passages and cries in the night. No one can give Lucy any easy answers for the things she hears, and more tangible horrors are soon to appear. This is the sort of book you do not want to read in the evening unless you are happy to spend the rest of the night huddled in your bed staring at shadows! Jane Godman has set a perfectly creepy tone that had me completely hooked. And somehow it combines wonderfully with the romance that holds this story together.

What about the romance though? Well I don’t want to give too much away! The twists and turns of this novel are bound to shock some readers, but for those who simply need the HEA-guarantee, I’ll let you know that it is most definitely romantically satisfying… but the question is, who is the villain and who is the hero of this piece?

Jane Godman has weaved a tale that is utterly delicious. It is fun, sexy, scary, totally Harlequin and yet with a nod to the classics. What a combination! You can tell through her writing that Jane Godman enjoys the gothic romances of the past as much as me. You can feel the creepiness of the likes of Carmilla sneaking through these pages, and I loved the little tongue in cheek references, for example with Lucy reading Northanger Abbey just as its own heroine had read Udolpho!

Legacy of Darkness hooked me from beginning to end and I can't wait to read more of Jane Godman's spooky romances. I'm also intrigued to read more Harlequin Shivers!

Legacy of Darkness by Jane Godman was published by Harlequin earlier this year as part of a boxset, and re-released as a single title on April 1 2014.

Edit: Legacy of Darkness by Jane Godman has now been rereleased by Jane Godman on 9 February 2015 as a standalone. It is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

This book was given to Love Reading Romance in exchange for an honest review.