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REVIEW

"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 arrogant 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 superstitious lot.

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 grim manner.

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 well.

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 great start.

Copyright 2000

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted October 22, 2001

SUMMARY

The new heiress of Haskell Hall is drawn to Ian Griffith, with his amber eyes and tightly leashed sensuality. Awash in the secretive moonlight of his tower chamber, she bares herself to his fierce passions. But has she freed a tormented soul with her loving gift, or loosed a demon who hunts unsuspecting women as his prey? This title launches Love Spell's new Candleglow gothic romance series.

 

The Wolf of Haskell Hall
by Colleen Shannon

Love Spell (Candleglow - Gothic)
January 1, 2001
ISBN #0505524120
EAN #9780505524126
400 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Colleen Shannon

Catspell
The Trelayne Inheritance
Heaven's Hero
Heaven's Rogue


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