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Black Rainbow

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  936 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Megan O'Neill sees it hanging in the sky above the towers of Grayhaven Manor -- a beautiful yet sinister black rainbow, a warning to the estate's new governess to stay away. Yet the warmth and kindness of the Mandeville family banish her fears -- and her hypnotic obsession for her handsome, mysterious new employer blinds her to the darkness within. But desire always has it ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by HarperTorch (first published 1982)
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(showing 1-30)
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Lynn Spencer
3.5 stars for me I'll admit it. I loved this book as a teenager and all those nostalgia-laced happy feelings color my reading of the book as an adult. So, even though the plotting and characterizations run somewhat to the WTF side, I lapped this book right up.

Set in England in the waning days of the Crimean War, orphan Megan O'Neill comes out to Grayhaven Manor as a governess. Once there, she discovers an unusual household indeed. Her employer, Edmund Mandeville, is not there and instead she is
...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 06, 2012 Ivonne Rovira rated it did not like it
Barbara Michaels usually writes wonderful Gothic romances with great plot twists, wonderful characters and witty dialogue. You won't find any of that here. I had to force myself to finish this dreadful book.

The "heroine" is actually the plain-looking and plain-spoken sister Jane. The governess who you think will be the heroine is a pretty idiot who can't see the obvious flaws in the man she works so hard to entrap. Except for Jane and a few workmen, every character in this book is so boorish, se
...more
Caitie
Jun 30, 2008 Caitie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nooooobody
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Sammis
Feb 12, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it it was ok
A black rainbow is a moon rainbow. It is the also the opening scene for Black Rainbow by Barbara Michaels. In this gothic romance Megan O'Neill, governess falls in love with the handsome but dangerous Edmund Mandeville while sister Jane looks on helpless.

Black Rainbow is the prequel to Someone in the House (1981). As it's basically the back story for a much better sounding (and more typical) Barbara Michaels horror novel, the story reads like a forced march. I haven't read Someone in the House (
...more
Lisa Greer
Mar 18, 2008 Lisa Greer rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic-mystery
I liked it because I didn't see where it was going until 2/3s of the way in. It reminded me of Greygallows.
Meredith
Not Michaels best executed books, plot-wise, but interesting in other ways. The main characters are nuanced enough that one understands, at least in part, their motivations, even if often faulty. And the ending is deliciously gothic.

Not to mention the way the choices of the manor lords in that time and the consequences of those choices has quite a bit of parallel to current issues around the 1%

It's takes the classic gothic tale, Jane Eyre, and sets it on its ear. Here, our heroine, Megan, hired
...more
Arismeire
Jun 30, 2016 Arismeire rated it did not like it
O livro começa com a personagem Megan chegando a pé e sob a chuva a seu novo emprego em uma casa de campo chamada Grayhaven. Durante sua caminhada ela ve um "Black rainbow", que é um Arco-íris formados pela luz da Lua. Para que se veja um destes é necessário ter chuviscos com um céu muito claro entre as nuvens para deixar que a luz passe por elas. A moça encara este arco-íris noturno como um presságio. Está feita a referência ao título.
A história é um romance gótico protagonizado por Megan O`Nei
...more
Elentarien
Sep 10, 2010 Elentarien rated it did not like it
I really can't say I liked this one much. It just. . .seemed to lack. It started out strong, kept me interested until it changed point of view, but then it sort of lost momentum. The story started to drag.

It also lacked the 'suspense' I was hoping for in this style of novel. The romance was. . .pretty absent. Hinted at, but you don't get to follow it.

I also found the main character (Megan) a bit empty-headed. She wasn't *bad*, just. . .seemed kind of shallow. Particularly after the change in P
...more
Jean
Jan 17, 2015 Jean rated it really liked it
Black Rainbow is a prequel to Someone in the House. If you read it in publication order, then you will watch the foreordained dance and have additional layers of enjoyment. If not, you still have a rather nice piece of historical fiction. Note that the novel is not romantic suspense or gothic romance as usually Barbara Michaels writes, but is still well written and thought provoking. One character lets us see the time through a more modern glass, but it doesn't feel too out of place. Still the b ...more
Sonia
Aug 07, 2013 Sonia rated it liked it
Meh. On the one hand, I found some of the historic/mystery elements of the book really intriguing and really wanted to see where things would go, but ultimately I was let down by the story. It was kind of all over the place. There were some things that would have been great starting points for some creepy elements, and then they were never explored. The POV switches halfway through from the naive Megan to the dull Jane (who was by no means dull when you were reading as Megan), and the love story ...more
SuperWendy
Feb 02, 2016 SuperWendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
So this is getting three stars because of nostalgia mostly (I know I read this as a teen - but couldn't recall specific details) - but this book is a hot mess. The heroine is this odd mix of Complete Idiot and Cunning Manipulator. She's hired as a governess by the Brooding Mysterious Hero but about halfway through the book it was like Michaels got bored with the kid (and really can we blame her?) and the precocious tot literally vanishes from the page! The romance(s) is the story are the very de ...more
Laura Guill
May 21, 2013 Laura Guill rated it did not like it
This kinda has me regretting trying to read all of Barbara Michaels' back catalog. The characters were tiresome & predictable, and while there were a few hints towards evil (spirits? a presence? the house? I couldn't even tell), it wasn't enough to explain away the villain's behavior, or the sense of "doom" that hung over Megan.

I would say at best, this could have been the secondary ghost story, like in Ammie, Come Home. Maybe that's what Someone In The House is about?
Jodi Bricker
Jun 17, 2015 Jodi Bricker rated it it was amazing
This is the first book by Barbara Michaels that I read, simply because I was intrigued by the title on the library shelf. It was the book lovers equivalent of stumbling upon buried treasure. That intrigue and feeling of uncovering long hidden, even ancient, secrets carries on in the story as the heroine explores the aged manor of her employer. I enjoy the Victorian feel of this book, as it echoes classic gothic style, but Michaels has shown herself well able to weave her brand of suspense and pa ...more
Maxine
Aug 05, 2011 Maxine rated it it was ok
I love Barbara Michaels--even more so when she writes as Elizabeth Peters, but I found Black Rainbow very disappointing. I hate to say the story was mediocre, so I'll just say it wasn't very exciting. A bigger disappointment was in the writing itself. When I read a line to the effect that "Megan's heart popped out of her chest and landed with a plop at his feet" I literally closed the book, vowing not to open it again. I did finish it, however, because it's my policy to finish any book I start. ...more
Lynn Demsky
The book only took me a day to read but it was kind of scattered and randomly written. The little girl, Lina, that Megan went to govern just kind of disappeared, her new baby wasn’t much ---- and I guess living in an old castle maybe made them all go a bit mad……not really sure --- kind of set in Gothic times, had romance and mystery with murder --- but the mystery and murder were really only in the last maybe 60 pages or so…..plus you never really knew what happened to most of the characters in ...more
Christina
Jun 09, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it
Gothic suspenseful romance novels are my weakness. Yes, they're formulaic. There's always a governess, a brooding mansion or manor, and an arrogant master who may or may not have a heart of cold under his hard exterior. This novel followed most of the conventions of the genre, but then, we read the genre for those conventions, amirite? Nothing groundbreaking here, but a solid gothic romance complete with pagan rituals and fertility rites. One of the better ones that I've read.
Tasha
Jun 03, 2009 Tasha rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
This book started out okay... ish. Megan the orphaned governess falls in love with her handsome employer. That's the first half of the book. Then they get married and the narration switches to Jane, Handsome Employer's younger sister. Jane is a great character, but why switch the narration to her? All the action and plot of the novel is happening with Megan! But we only see it second- or third-hand. This makes for a damn boring story.
Michael
Feb 14, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
Shelves: gothic
This is certainly one of the weaker of the Barbara Michaels novels I've read to date. Main characters I couldn't bring myself to like (except for one of them)... Irritating behavior... Characters and episodes that never really led to anything substantial in the plot... Incredible thickheadedness... Yeah, not a favorite.

(I've gone into tons of detailed, semi-ranting commentary on my blog. Can't bring myself to paste it all here. Too embarrassingly long.)

Dawn Napier
Jan 08, 2012 Dawn Napier rated it liked it
Decent. A bit derivative, it reminded me a LOT of Jane Eyre. But the story was entirely different, especially toward the end. I did NOT expect it to end the way it did. I also expected the book to have more references to religion and paganism, and I'm disappointed that much of it was skimmed over. Overall, a fun little read.
Deanna
Jul 24, 2012 Deanna rated it liked it
I have read most of this author's work, but decided to make a concerted effort to finish everything. In her early writing days, she did a lot of "gothic romances" and this is one of those early efforts. Most of the characters have some grating flaws that make it hard to empathize with them. But the underlying ideas and the ongoing statements for women's rights are all fine.
Melissa
This book was a mess! All the good stuff happens off page and then later the reader is let in on it. Half the time things just came out of the blue and I was left feeling dumbfounded as to why the author would do this. I only gave it two stars instead of one because I enjoyed the narrator. However, even she couldn't save this farce of a gothic mystery.
Ginia
Sep 25, 2008 Ginia rated it liked it
I expected more from this book. I judge books by their covers or their titles too often. I think the rainbow was mentioned only twice, meaning something like an ill wind blows no good. Or in this case a black rainbow... Barbara Michaels is also Elizabeth Peters. Her Amelia Peabody Emerson Series is much better.
Gina
Jan 05, 2013 Gina rated it it was ok
Boring no suspense or thriller. Than again I didn't finnish but I did skim through the pages of the book over and over again trying to find something creepy, nothing really and this doesn't really have anything to do with a black rainbow?
Dan
Nov 12, 2012 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not great. The author offers a lot of good historical information, but jumps between telling detailed flight and fight stories to historical strategic stories. He jumps from a strict timeline to a jumble of important details to back.
Laura
Mar 09, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
2.5 Stars.

Jane was pretty much the only character in this book that wasn't completely infuriating. It also was so extremely similar to the last Barbara Michaels book that I read that it almost felt like she just changed some names and a few minor plot points :/
Vin9
Jul 30, 2010 Vin9 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie
May 09, 2010 Laurie added it
Recommends it for: yes
Recommended to Laurie by: used book store find
Not a real exciting book, sort of Jane Eyhre with a twist at the end.
I kept expecting Heathcliff to show up and duke it out with Mr. Darcy!
This author has written a ton of books and I think I try out a few more of her's.
Eilonwy
Mar 18, 2014 Eilonwy rated it it was ok
My least favorite Barbara Michaels novel -- I've read it twice and been disappointed both times by how there are so many fascinating elements, yet nothing really seems to come together in this story. It's doubly disappointing in light of how her other books are so good.
Falina
Jul 08, 2012 Falina rated it it was ok
Eh, it was okay. Not your average late twentieth-century gothic romance, in the sense that there was no appealing male character to latch onto here. In fact, I spent most of the novel annoyed at most of the main characters. The ending was pretty great, though.
Jennie
Mar 01, 2014 Jennie rated it liked it
Some how I could not get in this book until near the end and I love Barbara Michaels' books. On the gothic side with interesting characters. But something was missing in the character development of Edmund.
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Barbara Michaels was a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She also wrote as Elizabeth Peters, as well as under her own name.

She was born in Canton, Illinois and has written over fifty books including some in Egyptology. Dr. Mertz also holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Egyptology.
More about Barbara Michaels...

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