Helen G. Huntley’s book presents itself as a ghost story and it certainly contains what people perceive to be ghosts but actually this book is also part fairytale and erotic romance as well.
It begins well with Loren Wallace arriving at the old manor house which is going to be her new home, purchased by her husband, Claude for her to stay in while he is away on business. Their marriage having been arranged by their respective fathers, Loren is feeling a little unsure about the situation she finds herself in and the fact that the house they are about to inhabit has resident ghosts does nothing to assuage her trepidation.
We learn a little about the ghosts in that they are brothers and one was a Lothario whilst the other one was driven to perform well in business and Huntley develops them as characters by showing their impressions of the new residents of their home. I liked the brothers’ initial exchanges, the mystery of who or what they are creating suspense. Alongside this, in the early chapters of the book, you are also aware that there is something odd about Loren and Claude’s marriage and this also creates mystery.
As the book progresses and Loren employs a maid to help make the house more habitable, the onus shifts from ghostly mystery to something more erotic and relationship focused with a bit of thriller thrown in for good measure. Whilst the plot continues at a fair pace and events evolve with control, I felt like the tightness shown in the earlier chapters started to wane and the focus shifted to dialogue between the characters and the padding that creates atmosphere was lost somewhere.
One other thing that needs a mention is the suggestion of setting which I thought was Britain, more specifically England but there was a littering of Americanisms throughout that jarred with me, especially as a British reader as well as things that, in my opinion, didn’t fit with the mid 1940s’ time placement. This took me out of the story a little, which was a shame.
However, I enjoyed it in the main, especially the creation of character infused with humour and it was an easy read. There is no doubt that Huntley is a competent writer with a clear sense of direction in her story building as the action leads to a satisfying conclusion.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.