A confirmed spinster travels to the ruinous manor of a reclusive duke in hope of brokering a deal with him not to call in her reprobate brother’s debts and so destroy her family name. Sinister and scarred, living in perpetual darkness, he makes an indecent proposition, agreeing to hold off on his demands for payment if she will spend a week with him.
She is already a secretly fallen woman and after quickly calculating the potential damage to her reputation against the ruin of her family she agrees to his suggestion. He quickly discovers that she is not the uptight virgin she portrays to the world and much amazing sex ensues.
He becomes obsessed with discovering why she denies her true sensual nature and what circumstances led to her ‘fall’. She, in turn, wonders why he can’t abide the light of day and wants to discover all she can about her temporary lover’s secret.
Eventually she trusts him with her secret history but he can not tell her the truth about his mysterious hereditary condition for fear she will shun him. It is only after she leaves him at the end of the week that he realises his inability to share his secret shame has cost him his one chance at happiness and acceptance. A wild, life-threatening ride through a gloomy afternoon has him tracking her down and establishing their happy ever after.
Good gothic novels are not easily come by these days. This debut novel fills that void nicely. While the author checks all traditional gothic boxes the story still has a relatively fresh feel. Having said that, at times it did feel a little as if I was reading in a kind of loop (dark broody introspective, sparking/challenging dialogue, sex, sex, sex, dark broody introspective) but I suppose there’s only so much you can do with a hero who must live in the dark.
I would have liked to see a little more character development. The basics of strong characters were definitely present but I felt the author didn’t make use of their potential. While not two-dimensional the characters didn’t strike me as convincingly three-dimensional either.
For all that the plot worked, the setting description was sparse but evocative and the book was an easy, pleasant read. I will be interested to see how this particular writer’s style develops-Lynn