Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary Gothic Romance
Source: Own book
The dead of winter. An isolated island off the coast of Maine. A man. A woman. A sinister house looming over the sea ...
He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.
But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.
It's going to be a long, hot winter.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips has changed it up a little with her latest book. In a salute to some of her favourite writers of earlier years she has written a novel that combines elements of the gothic with her own contemporary romance style. It works for me! Why churn out more of the same all the time?
She has challenged herself as a writer and has then challenged her readers to adapt as well. I applaud her for that, and it is with the promise of a good book to be relished, I settled down to read this one.
I was soon engulfed in a cold, wintery scene with a menacing atmosphere. Annie the heroine has arrived on the island of Peregrine off the coast of Maine. She is penniless and accompanied by her beloved puppets and she is heading for the only item to her name, Moonraker Cottage. If she wants to keep this cottage she has to live on it for two months or she loses it. A condition laid down by the owner of the towering house just above the cottage - Harp House. Her mother when dying said that Annie would find something in the cottage that would be her inheritance.
At the moment the owner is away and living in Harp House is Theo the son, and past nemesis of Annie - they have a history, and its left a bad taste in Annie's mouth. When things start to become menacing for Annie, naturally she blames Theo and has her own little ways of getting back at him, she has skills does Annie that come in handy at times.
Also at Harp House is a beautiful black stallion, a black cat called Hannibal, Jaycie the housekeeper and her mute four year old daughter, Livie. Annie immediately connects with Livie, or actually its Scamp that connects with Livie. As I said Annie is gifted in many ways. I loved how this relationship developed. Wonderful.
I appreciated the accomplished writing, the revealing of the various characters in their highlights and lowlights, the mystery - I didn't pay enough attention to the little hints of who was ultimately trying to be rid of Annie, but it was logical when all was revealed. The characters are realistic and a little different, the exploration of their background history was so much part of the story. The puppets were an inspired addition and I loved Annie's use of them. Susan Elizabeth Phillip's quirky humour was evident, although I didn't have a laugh out loud moment until I was quite a way into the book.
At first I found Theo unlikeable, but that changed as I read on. The romance between Annie and Theo is delightful and sizzling - there is some heat, but it does not dominate the book - I like that. Loved the epilogue - thank you Susan Elizabeth Phillips for another wonderful read.
Gothic Fiction book