So I was going to write a book review this week, but the business of going to press at work in combination with a birthday and the long process of moving made it so that I only got about halfway done with the book in question. Still, I figured I'd give you a bit of an "in-progress" preview before completing the full book review next week.
The newest from author Amanda DeWees (the first writer to teach me that "gothic romance" was not the overly dramatic spook stories I had previously supposed but a genre that I could enjoy), Nocturne for a Widow is a tie-in book to her earlier With this Curse -- although the two books can be read completely separately as stand-alone. Nocturne picks up with a character who was introduced on the side in Cuse (which I devoured in a matter of two days...it was one of those moments where I read the few pages available online and, as I reached the end, realized I could not wait a minute more without reading on):
Ms. Sybil Ingram, actress extraordinaire, is now a newly engaged retiree. However, her nuptials are not as purely happy as one would wish them to be. She leaves England for America trailed by rumor, only to find upon her arrival that her husband and her new home are not what she had thought or hoped. Alcott Lammle, the wealthy hotel magnate to whom she was promised, has fallen into financial ruin and declining health during their engagement and Sybil's journey across the sea -- and dies on their wedding night.
Widowed, nearly penniless, and unable to return to England, the determined diva sets out to stake a claim on Brooke House, an eccentric neo-Gothic manor in the wilds of the Hudson River Valley. She soon finds, however, that a ghostly presence wants her gone. Even worse, her claim is challenged by the most insolent, temperamental, maddeningly gorgeous man she's ever met: Roderick Brooke, a once-famous former violinist whose career ended in a dark scandal.What follows is a battle of wits and steel between Sybil and Roderick as both attempt to retain their claims upon the house, made tenuous by the presence of the other. Their chemistry can easily be described as Shakespearean, darting barbs and pertness back and forth under a guise (sometimes not) of politeness. They are the Gothic Petruchio and Kate, or Benedick and Beatrice.
I haven't yet seen how this battle will unfold, nor how this ghostly presence will resolve itself. Some very spooky action at a distance occurred with a valise and a staircase. Being alone at night while reading some of Ms. DeWees' work -- although not graphic, overt, or gratuitous in any way -- can be a tad hair raising, and I found myself sinking a bit further beneath the blanket under which I was huddled. Ms. DeWees does follow, of course, with just the right amount of recovery for the reader, without dampening that ghostly mood, and I cannot wait to continue the exploration of the haunted Brooke House and the fiesty Roderick and Sybil.
Until I do finish, here are some other reviews by avid readers of Nocturne for a Widow:
"[DeWees brings] delicious humor to the forefront, creating characters and a plot that balance classic Gothic suspense and lighthearted humor so deftly that she nearly creates an entirely new genre -- the cozy Gothic romance." --Sweet Rocket
"Amanda DeWees is a gothic romance gem. In many ways -- the suspense, the humor, and the light, sweet romance -- DeWees reminds me of classic Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels that just isn't written anymore. The writing is elegant but doesn't detract from the atmosphere and characters it builds, who (aside from the totally evil single-minded villain in classical Gothic fashion) are very believable and multi-faceted." --Volatilisanguis
And a sample of the wonderful, witty, and winsome writing of Ms. Dewees? I thought you'd never ask:
No longer was I confined to the purgatory of solitude waiting. She who has an enemy, after all, is never lonely.