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Shadows from the Past #1

The Silent Touch of Shadows

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Professional genealogist Melissa Grantham receives an invitation to visit her family’s ancestral home, Ashleigh Manor. From the moment she arrives, life-like dreams and visions haunt her. The spiritual connection to a medieval young woman and her forbidden lover have her questioning her sanity, but Melissa is determined to solve the mystery.

Jake Precy, owner of a nearby cottage, has disturbing dreams too, but it’s not until he meets Melissa that they begin to make sense. He hires her to research his family’s history, unaware their lives are already entwined. Is the mutual attraction real or the result of ghostly interference?

A haunting love story set partly in the present and partly in fifteenth century Kent.

323 pages, Paperback

First published May 31, 2012

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About the author

Christina Courtenay

32 books276 followers
Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014) and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the Runes. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

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5 stars
271 (35%)
4 stars
247 (32%)
3 stars
174 (22%)
2 stars
53 (6%)
1 star
17 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 79 reviews
Author 38 books268 followers
November 18, 2012
There are some authors that have a style so distinctive the reader immediately recognises it. Ms Courtenay is one such author, relating her stories with a balanced mix of dialogue and descriptive writing. The Silent Touch of Shadows is a gripping read with two story lines, one set in the present and one set in the time of the War of the Roses.

Main character Melissa is plagued by realistic dreams and visions of another life in a distant past, and despite the fear these nightmares inspire, Melissa is compelled to try and find out what really happened all those years ago. She is aided in her quest by her handsome neighbour Jake Precy, who also suffers from all too realistic dreams set in the fifteenth century …

It is typical of Ms Courtenay to give her readers a selection of characters to like and dislike, and this book is no exception, with vivid descriptions of Melissa’s daughter, her great-aunt, her cad of an ex-husband, and a number of other minor characters.

The pace is high throughout, the historical details are plentiful, and the switches between present and past are elegantly handled. My one objection to this entertaining read is that the villains of the story, the loutish brothers and father of fifteenth century Sibell, are rather one dimensional, making that plotline somewhat less plausible. Still, this is a minor irritation in an otherwise well-crafted novel, and I look forward to reading much more of Ms Courtenay in the future.
Profile Image for Dana Burda.
195 reviews24 followers
May 28, 2017
Romanul scriitoarei Christina Courtenay a fost tradus în limba română cu titlul " Destine paralele" și a fost publicat de editura Lider în anul 2014, în traducerea Ilenei Dinu. Pentru mine a fost o lectura extrem de plăcută pentru că îmbină într-un tot cuceritor trecutul cu prezentul, două intense povești de dragoste și are destule elemente de fantastic pentru a te obliga să fii imaginativ și direct participant la acțiune.
Profile Image for Aya.
89 reviews13 followers
September 1, 2017
This is one of the lighter books that I seeked, it's a romantic ghost story built up between two eras of time. If the ghost and the hero wouldn't have been so HOT I certainly would have seized reading it. All in all it was a fun read and yes I would read the rest of the series which I think the books in it aren't related, but they are shadows from the past, and oh how exhilarating can the past be!
Profile Image for Hannah Stewart.
187 reviews3 followers
August 19, 2017
Incredibly disappointing. If this was the first of Christina Courtney's books that I had read, I wouldn't have bothered with Trade Winds, which I enjoyed.
The plot of this story is a very poor imitation of Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. The trouble with this one is none of the characters were likeable or believable in the least. The sentence structure was also super simplistic; to the point where I felt like I was ready something I had written for my high school English Literature class.
And what is with authors who make grown women 'giggle' in random situations? So off putting.
Profile Image for Carly.
420 reviews
July 7, 2012
The Silent Touch of Shadows is a beautifully written novel that is full of mystery, intrigue, twists, turns, well developed characters, ghostly spectres and best of all two amazing love stories. I was quickly wrapped up in this intriguing storyline that not only has present day characters but also a set of 1460's characters that play a big part in the main characters lives. I will admit that I was a little confused at the start when the story jumps from present day to the past, but once I got the gist of who was who the transitions were flawless. I am new to the authors work, but I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for more works from Christina Courtenay in the future.

Melissa Grantham is a professional genealogist, she has recently separated from her partner, she moves around quite a bit and has never really settled. Melissa receives an invitation to visit her great aunt Dorothy in her families ancestral home 'Ashleigh Manor'. So Melissa and her daughter Jolie head down there for a visit. As soon as they arrive Melissa has strange dreams and visions that seem real. She is haunted by a medieval knight who is looking her help, to do what she does not know. Her dreams play out a story of a medieval woman and a forbidden lover, this leaves Melissa questioning if she is going out of her mind.

Melissa decides to put her genealogist skills to work and try to work out if these people from her dreams are even real and what her ghostly visitor wants with her. A neighbour called Jake hires Melissa to research his family tree, but it is a real shocker to Melissa that he is the spitting image of her medieval knight! Turns out Jake is plagued with similar dreams, could their histories be intertwined?

Well the ending was spectacular, I loved every page. I wasn't expecting the book to pan out quite like it did, so I was pleasantly surprised. This is a real edge of your seat, must read book that will have you welded to the pages. What was all the more interesting for me was Melissa's occupation as a genealogist, which was informative and really enlightening for me. I also loved the chilling sensation I got in parts of the story, I had goosebumps, the writing really was that good. I can't urge everyone enough to go pick up this stunning book today!

4.5/5 Stars

*Special thanks to Choc Lit for the review copy*

Carly :)
Profile Image for Rhiannon Hart.
Author 6 books245 followers
October 1, 2016
Quite a good medieval timeslip/ghost story with the main characters of 600 years ago mirrored in the present. I enjoyed the first two thirds of the book most as there was lots of atmosphere and the author took her time presenting you with a lot of information. You got to see all the events of the past, unlike the characters in the present, so it was interesting to see them struggle with what had happened as it unfolded for you in great detail.

The last third was slow and frustrating, however, with lots of hand-wringing and 'Am I going mad?' from the heroine that was quite unnecessary as we'd already established that Ghosts Are Real and Magic Happens. Can we not, you know, get the hell on with things? There were a few too many bouts of tears, hysterics and fainting from the present-day heroine as well, and both heroines seemed to clam up with fear when Sensible Men were asking them questions that would help move the goddamn plot along.

But it was an interesting mystery, and I loved the star-crossed lovers trope, and the fact that the ghost was a generational one that haunted all red-haired women of one family. Pretty romantic and whatnot. An enjoyable read if you are on a medieval timeslip jag.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books295 followers
June 9, 2012
First of all, this is a very different story from Courtenay's usual. It's a time slip, and though it has lots of "in the past" bits, I would say the majority is in the present. There was also a lot less man bits than usual. (I couldn't resist saying that!)

It was almost like reading an entirely different author, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Melissa is a genealogist. (This itself was utterly fascinating. What a unique occupation. I found these parts very educational.) She is struggling with her recent divorce when a mysterious aunt invites her to her 600 year old (I hope that is accurate) estate. Daughter in tow, she ends up moving there and soon, strange dreams, scents, voices, visions begin to haunt her.

When she meets the local vet, a dead ringer for Roger, the ghost haunting and seducing her, she faints!

And oh my goodness, can I just say I love the fact we have a contemporary romance here that doesn't feature an aggressive alpha male, but a nice guy?

Full review on Book Babe: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2012/...
Profile Image for Cynthia Green.
66 reviews6 followers
March 10, 2019
The blurb for this novel was enticing. I haven't read any of Christina Courtenay's books and was hoping her writing would be comparable to Susanna Kearsley, Barbara Erskine and Pamela Hartshorne, who are some of my favourite authors.

Unfortunately, this novel left me grating my teeth. First of all, the historical research is sadly lacking. In the past story, the main character, Sibell, is a young widow living with her abusive father instead of her late husband's family. Why do you think the bride's father gives his daughter away with a dowry? If the bride's husband died, she was married off again quickly or joined a convent. She was also entitled to a portion of her husband's estate, approximately 30% to take to her next marriage.

The current story might have worked, but I'm so tired of divorced women who have spoiled, bratty teenage daughters and husbands who left them for younger women. Also tired of characters being called home to their ancestral manors that they knew nothing about.

I'm sorry I couldn't finish this novel or give it a good review.
Profile Image for Catherine.
Author 11 books77 followers
July 4, 2012
It's rare that I look forward to a book in the same way I might a film, but as soon as I read the blurb for The Silent Touch of Shadows the premise intrigued me. I'm glad to say it's lived up to my expectations. It's based in Ashleigh Manor, Kent and when Melissa moves in with her aunt, she starts to experience vivid dreams and is haunted by visions. The problem is a ghost called Roger and in order to rid herself of his presence she sets out to find out more about Ashleigh Manor and its history.

The story offers a perfect weaving between past and present in its time-slip style. For reader's of Christina Courtenay it's a departure from her historical novels, but still offers you the same quality. It's the kind of story I've always wanted to read and don't find enough of. A must-read.
Profile Image for Alison.
661 reviews
January 13, 2021
This is the first book I have read by this author, and it won't be the last!

This is something of a time slip, something of a haunting - and the two time zones jog along well together for the most part. There were moments I felt I wanted to be more in the present to solve the mystery, but I enjoyed the characters and relationships in the past.

In fact, there were parts that made eye leakage possible. Though I do wish that that particular ghost from the past hadn't had such an ending.

I really recommend this book for anyone that likes their contemporary novels spiced with history, hauntings and the intensity of emotion.
Profile Image for Kathy.
616 reviews25 followers
August 27, 2013
I really enjoyed ‘The Silent Touch of Shadows' by Christina Courtenay. I am a fan of time-slip novels and Christina has done a fabulous job to keep the pages turning – romance, hope, despair, suspense, mystery and of course, a ghost or two thrown in as well. The characters in the book mingled past and present well and it was easy to keep up with in what era you were in. If you like history and time slip novels – you will love ‘The Silent Touch of Shadows’…..
October 8, 2021
I enjoyed reading this book. It is set in two time periods. It is set in the present , in the twenty first century , and the past in the fiftieth century. It is focused on a girl called Melissa and her romance struggles in the past , with the daughters fathers. Because of this ,she is always followed up by complications with her living and financial situation. She is always from one space to the other , and is threatened by the owner of the place she is living to throw her out because she is struggling to keep up with paying the rent. She recently heard that she has a relative , a great aunt , that has invited her over to meet her , then later on invites her to live with her. Overtime she releases she starts to hear , feel and see mysterious things , than releases she is seeing a ghost who died in the Old Manor, however she doesn't feel scared but instead she feel a sense of sadness and love towards this ghost. Than releases she meets the ghost's doppelgänger and actually falls in love with him.The ghost keeps whispering her to help him every time she hears her and whispers "Help me sweeting" . She is the only one in the family that sees the ghost because she is red headed , the ghost originally loved a read headed hair. She tells her soon boyfriend Jack Percy , and overtime they even try having an exorcism to get rid of him. But eventually regrets her choice.She finally releases that there is a hidden key the ghost wanted her to find and , she eventually finds under a floorboard , this is where the ghost disappears.
Profile Image for Norah.
125 reviews9 followers
February 24, 2023
I dnf'd it at 100 pages (30%)

First of all I didn't like the writing. It was too simplistic, which isn't always bad but in this case a twelve year old could've written this in English class. I hated how some sentences were structured.

I also didnt like how the author chose to write the characters. They were all annoying. The main character was bland and didn't have any personality just like her kid. (and all other characters tbh) The ex husband was portrayed to be a bad person. But he was written how a child would write a bad person. The author kept throwing him in the story and made him say or do things that were bad and it was just annoying. All the characters and the story lacked a lot of depth and I doubt that if I kept reading there would be much character development.

I also didn't like the flashbacks very much. It didn't give mee 1400's vibes and it was very off putting. The fact that every chapter had a flashback made it hard for me to keep reading.

Maybe I should've kept reading but I didn't. The story didn't pull me in for the first 30% of the book so I have no intention of reading it further.
Profile Image for Julia Bell.
Author 12 books203 followers
January 23, 2019
I'm giving The Silent Touch of Shadows three stars as I did like it and enjoyed the time slip element of the story.
But I did find it over dramatic. At the beginning there was a great deal of emphasis on the extreme attraction between the hero and heroine. Again, no build up of feelings, but an immediate case of sparks flying and mesmerising glances between them . After the relationship was established, there then seemed a similar extreme reaction to the events that unfolded. Sometimes I felt that I was in a Victorian melodrama with the heroine putting the back of her hand to her forehead. I always think that the characters in a story should react the way people would in real life. Consequently, Melissa's constant crying jarred with me somewhat.
However, I did want to keep reading and discover what happened to Roger. This was an intriguing story and well written. Recommended for lovers of romantic time slip stories.
March 6, 2022
For me, this book is the definition of lost potential. The idea of the story is really interesting but is poorly written and the characters are not just weakly developed but they don't even seem to have a personality of their own.
The narration of the actions from the 1400's failed to give me the medieval vibe as I felt like the characters could have been from any other era and it wouldn't have made any difference.
The climax was too short and seemed nonsensical. If all it took was for Roger to lead Melissa to his remains for the problem to be solved, why did he wait so long to do so? Why didn't he led her from the beginning? And why did he wait 600 years to do so?
A thing I liked is the satisfying ending for Roger and Sibell who finally reunited after so long.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alva.
448 reviews45 followers
June 30, 2023
A super read from Christina Courtenay. A dual timeline novel with a ghostly presence, a romance and a lesson in history. It gave me a huge insight into the world of genealogy. What a fascinating career!
This book is engaging from start to finish and while it has some annoying characters, it’s a sign of a good author who can introduce these characters and make you feel about them the way she wants you to feel about them!
All in all, a great read.
Profile Image for Erica Olsen.
182 reviews9 followers
April 15, 2018
4.5 stars (I’ve got a lot of these recently!)

This book was really really intriguing. From the start to the end it had me completely captured. I loved how it was set in two ages throughout and how the stories were intertwined! It was all very lovely!

I will write a fuller review if I get the time for it! Now I’ll go on to the next book.
Profile Image for Sabrina Marnet.
38 reviews
January 28, 2023
Entertaining but not more. You almost undertand what is going to happen after the first chapter....No originality, the historical aspect is almost non-existant, no deepness in the caracters. I have been quite disappointed by this book
Profile Image for Nicole.
21 reviews1 follower
March 9, 2023
I really enjoyed this book, the story was a little different, beautifully written, nothing felt rushed and it had a perfect ending. ( if you are a Barbara Erskine fan you will really enjoy this story) This was the first book I have read by Christina Courtenay but definitely won’t be the last.
Profile Image for Joy.
427 reviews5 followers
March 1, 2017
I always enjoy a CC book. She is very good at the timeslip plot.
Profile Image for Lori.
757 reviews5 followers
May 10, 2017
Enjoyed this once I got into it. Easy read. Would be ideal for those who like period books.
11 reviews
April 14, 2018
I had high hopes based on the storyline but the characters were weak. The writing was weak. This could have been an interesting story. I skipped so many sections to get the story moving.
Profile Image for Susan.
315 reviews
May 28, 2018
Ghosts, Genealogy, a dual narrative; what's not to love?
28 reviews
May 15, 2020
Shadows from the Past

I enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading the other books in the series. Well worth it
416 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2020
A little heavy on the romance

I enjoyed the story to come degree but would have preferred a little less romance and a little more development of the genealogy / history portion.
Profile Image for Audrey.
433 reviews4 followers
September 6, 2020
This is the second book I have read by this author and I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend this book !
Displaying 1 - 30 of 79 reviews

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