Author: Lauren Smith
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Story Setting: Prologue Weymouth, England, 1811; Weymouth, England, present day
Published By: Entangled: Select Otherworld (September 29, 2014)
A thrilling gothic romance from Entangled’s Otherworld imprint…
About the Story: Bastian Carlisle, Earl of Weymouth, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American graduate student shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history.
Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.
Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.
My Thoughts: Bastian Carlisle was somehow compelled to repair his ancestor’s home, as had his father. It had long been neglected by family, scared for their lives. Strange happenings and accidents occurred to those who ventured to live within the walls of the castle. The locals said the place was haunted and were none too happy to see the latest earl in town. The place hadn’t been inhabited for 50 years, but Bastian yearned to return to his ancestral home. He would not be chased from his property any longer.
When the repairs started, there were delays, continued strange happenings. Some of the workers thought they saw ghost and would only work during the day, slowing down the progress of getting the castle back to being habitable. Bastian believed they were just hallucinating and influenced by local talk. But the castle slowly was coming back to life. Bastian had had workers on the project for five months while he continued living in London, but for the last two, he’d lived on the premises.
After being hounded by the American graduate student, Jane Seyton, to come to the castle to do her research for her doctorate paper, he finally thought he got rid of her by saying she’d have to wait until after the renovations were complete. The reparations weren’t complete and he had no time to entertain or babysit an American tourist even if she seemed to know a lot about his family history. When she came to the castle, uninvited and unexpected, he was ready to turn her out. The butler had shown her in to the drawing-room. Below is an excerpt. I loved this part. Jane Seyton had just received a scare when she approached the castle; she saw a woman in a white gown jump over the cliff and into the sea. Was she real or a ghost?
When he reached the drawing-room and laid a palm on the heavy oak door, it swung open revealing the rich red-and-gold-papered walls and covered furniture. He hadn’t had the chance to visit every room in the castle in the last seven months, since he’d been here sparingly, and he had definitely not been into this one. Randolph had been overseeing the cleanup of the rooms upon Bastian’s instructions and given the number of rooms, many had yet to be opened.
Personally, he had been avoiding this room, because it was the only one in the castle where a portrait of Isabelle hung. His grandmother had said looking upon Isabelle’s face was bad luck, and since Stormclyffe had been abandoned for longer than he’d been alive, he’d never had the chance to find out himself it was true. But now, seeing his ancestor for the first time…he was arrested at the sight.
There on the wall was the infamous woman whose swan dive off the cliffs had tainted his family’s lives forever. Bastian studies the portrait for a moment. A fair-skinned woman with a hint of rose in her cheeks gazed out from the layers of oil with serious gray eyes. Her pale blue gown molded to her curves, and waves of rich ebony hair tumbled down her shoulders to tease the tops of her breasts. There was a curious expression on her face. She was happy, but wariness lurked in the depths of her eyes, as though she expected to lose her joy at any moment.
Below the painting, a flesh-and-blood woman stood with her back to him. Windblown hair, dark as a raven’s wing, spiraled down her back in enticing waves. He had the sudden urge to thread his fingers through the silken strands and shape her full curves with his other hand. A curious burning settled deep in his bones, and a ringing filled his ears as visions of him pining her to a bed filled his mind. Wild, erotic thoughts tumbled through him, stealing his breath before he regained control and focused on his visitor again.
As though she’d heard his lustful thoughts, the woman turned to face him, cheeks flaming. She couldn’t have known what he was thinking. His hand dropped from the door handled, his jaw slackened in shock.
The dreamy gray eyes fixed on him were identical to the eyes of the woman painted above her. Noble, high cheek bones, curving brows, a sensual mouth made for kisses, and that nose, both delicate and impish, a perfect fit for the face of the woman before him. Her inky black tresses and curves designed perfectly for a man’s hands made her a living memory of a woman centuries gone.
Dear God… He repeated the words in his head over and over, mesmerized by the closeness of their shared features.
“You must be Lord Weymouth, I’m Jane Seyton.”
The woman strode over to him, hand outstretched. Without thinking, he took it. Heat flared between them. He inhaled sharply.
She dropped his hand and retreated a step, her eyes wide. Had she felt the same jot he had?
The scene continues and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but reader, it is just too delectable what happens next.
I loved the way we are in the present, a contemporary setting, with an earl who is intricately tied to an earlier version of himself, in a haunted castle holding all the history of the previous earls. Not only is this story a romance, but it’s also a mystery and suspense. It kept me reading well into the night where even my husband complained my eyes looked awful!
Jane Seyton was a fun character to follow. She was smart and from the very beginning she believed in ghosts. After all, she had been having these weird dreams for years that made her pursue her dissertation about Richard, the earl of Weymouth. She could not ignore taking this trip any further. She was totally dumbfounded when she saw how similar in features she and Isabella were. When Isabella tried to communicate with Jane, she didn’t shrink from what was happening, but tried to help ‘fix what needed mending’. She was a really good counterpart of the sexy, intelligent and very modern earl.
Bastian and Jane work together to unravel the past, although Bastian just wants her gone. He also wants her safe, which didn’t make any sense to him at all, since he knew nothing about her. So when he drops her off in town and finds where she is staying (can’t tell you where), he thinks the better thing to do is take her back to the castle. At least, he could keep his eyes on her that way. However, in town, they don’t avoid mishap. This scene shows just how resourceful and brave these two people are.
Where Bastian didn’t believe in ghosts at the beginning of the novel, there were too many occurrences that were ghost-like, so when Bastian actually saw his ancestor, Richard, he became a believer. The resident ghosts, Richard and Isabella, knew how they both died and were caught in the anguish of their death of long past. We the reader, do not know, nor do Bastian and Jane. The ghosts were unable to break the loop which kept them repeating their deaths to move on into the life after.
There were so many scenes of high drama and emotion. There was one which was purely delicious when both ghosts ‘used’ Bastian and Jane to communicate. I shall tell no more. You simply must read it! Highly recommended to all those who adore ghost stories, the paranormal, and historical romance. Thank you Lauren Smith for another winner!