"Gripping Gothic Paranormal Romance"
We can thank pioneers such as Susan Krinard for taking the
stuff of nightmares, stereotypical horror villains, the
werewolves, and transforming them into desirable romantic
heroes. How? By making them sympathetic, the victims of
human prejudice rather than victims of a hideous disease.
They portrayed these heroes as beings of a race parallel to
and possibly more worthy than humans, misunderstood and
hated as natural wolves have been through the centuries.
Sure they were dark, virile, even dangerous if they or
their loved ones are threatened but they were also
courageous, noble, passionate.
Gothic novels are by nature dark. Deep, damaging secrets
are the name of the game. Ms. Shannon takes shape shifter
romance to a new level, reintroducing traditional
Lycanthropy, the curse, an insidious disease which steals
the victim's humanity with each rising of the moon. And yet
each victim is different, instilled with the
characteristics of their human counterparts. The reader
will come to see them as individuals, evil begetting evil,
while the wise and the good never fully succumb to their
animal instincts. And somehow the authors taps into that
sympathy that makes the romance work. There is one thing
that romantics know for sure. If anything can pull such a
one back from the abyss, if is the power of love.
Redemption is the key.
Colleen throws some interesting characters into the mix, a
banty Cockney sailor Jeremy, and a Haitian priestess
Safira, accompany the heroine/heiress from America to the
Cornish moors. There they are joined by one Shelly Holmes a
groomswoman/investigator who does her name proud.
The heroine is an heiress twice over. Her father had sailed
across an ocean to seek his fortune, and had found it in an
American silver mine. Though those of old money families
looked down their noses at them, Delilah Hortense Haskell
Trent, had inherited other things from her father. He
bequeathed to her an independent spirit, one which turned
up its nose at public opinion. It was a trait that would
serve her well in her new home.
Delilah has sailed back across that same sea to embrace a
new legacy, one inherited on her mother's side. Haskell
Hall has fallen to her, as the last in the line of female
heiresses. It is there that she becomes the new lady of the
manor, Lil Haskell.
Lil's retainers are happy to see her, for much has been
neglected. There is great need for the funds she can supply
to mend her village. Only one of her employees gets under
her skin. It is her estate manager, Ian Griffith, who acts
like he owns the place, and arrogantly predicts that he
will soon own her as well.
She should fire him for his insolence, she really should,
but he challenges her with his projection that she is
and as useless as her predecessor. Then there IS the fact
that his very presence starts her heart to hammering.
What is it between these two, and why won't anyone tell Lil
what befell that predecessor? When she learns the truth
she is no doubt sorry she asked, for each and every
heiress, for the past hundred years, had died in the same
manner, brutally ripped apart upon the moors, their hearts
devoured, by what was assumed to be a wolf. Naturally
wolves don't live a hundred years, but the deaths are too
similar to be a coincidence. Villagers tend to be a
Finally Lil learns of the gypsy curse placed upon the
Haskell women. A lovely, but poor, gypsy girl had
foolishly fallen in love with a handsome by weak man of
wealth, and paid the price. The man, the master of Haskell
Hall, had considered himself too far above his mistress to
give her and his unborn child his name. Her father had
different ideas and had made an attempt to force the issue.
A scuffle ensued, the father died accidentally. The
feckless lover fled, unaware that his lover had gone into
premature labor. Though small, the child though survived.
Unfortunately, the mother did not.
Before the young girl died, she made sure that her child
would never know the noble side of his family. To insure
that none of her's would ever again mingle with another of
Haskell blood, she placed a curse upon her lover's
decedents. Each woman of Haskell blood would share in her
fate, to have their hearts ripped from their breasts as
hers had been. One would hardly had expected that she
meant this literally. But her lover passed on, leaving no
male heirs, and the Hall had been passed down through the
females of the line ever since. Each had died in the same
Lil isn't too worried about it. She's been frightened of
riding since she was a child and can't fathom anything that
would get her to ride out upon the moors at night. However
one little thing does trouble her, the gypsy had carried
the name of Griffith, and Ian is the last of her line as
At the same time she learns that Ian is somewhat justified
for acting like he owns the place. Somewhere along the
line, in an attempt to atone for the bad blood between the
families, a Haskell heiress had granted one tower of the
hall to another Griffith, to use as he saw fit. Though
their blood had never again mingled, that legacy had been
handed down to the current Griffith, Ian. Ian had returned
from his world travels just three months prior to the death
of the previous heiress, to claim his legacy. For better or
for worse, Ian had come home.
Ian does frighten Lil, but for a very different reason. He
excites her as no man ever has. His kisses make her weak in
the knees. He threatens her independence. But in spite of
her own misgivings and Safira's dire predictions and
desperate warnings, Lil finds herself becoming closer and
closer to this domineering male. It is Ian's prediction
which soon comes to pass. Life is indeed ironic for Ian had
intended to dominate his lofty employer, instead he finds
himself sharing the fate of his gypsy ancestress. Will his
love also end in tragedy? Can he expect one such as Lil to
follow no matter where his path leads?
Something about the Haskell murders stirs a memory in Lil.
A fearsome legend? A ridiculous myth? A grim reality? Is it
possible that such creatures, half man, half wolf, could
truly exist? Werewolves? Good heavens! The full moon is
mere days away and Ian has been studiously avoiding her.
Could it be? Surely not, for if so, Lil realizes that one
way or another, the curse will claim another Haskell
victim. Though she cannot yet admit it aloud, she's already
lost her heart to the man who might very well be..........The
Wolf of Haskell Hall.
No good gothic is without a cunning villain and you can be
assured that there is one. His ties to Ian are very strong
and he has his own agenda where Lil is concerned. But Lil
is stronger than anyone imagined. Can she best him in this
tug-of-war for Ian's soul?
In my humble opinion the gothic line has gotten off to a
Copyright © 2000
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted October 22, 2001