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Shadows of the Past

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When Anne and Neil leave on a one-week holiday hoping to reconcile after a two-year separation, little do they know that destiny has other plans for them. Their discovery of human bones and a bejeweled cross in the hollow of a tree open the door to the supernatural realm and the anguished life of Genevieve, a nun from medieval England.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve her eternal rest?

The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love.

231 pages, ebook

First published December 4, 2012

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About the author

Carmen Stefanescu

5 books80 followers
Carmen was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula.

She graduated the Bucharest University, the Germanic Languages Faculty. High-school teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of communist oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 75 reviews
Profile Image for Ionia.
1,430 reviews66 followers
December 4, 2013
It isn't often that I put a book in my "I must read this again pile." I read so much that I usually won't read a book more than once because I am always ready to move on to the next one I haven't experienced yet. This is one of those rare times when I know I will read this book again.

I am a huge history buff and I adore historical fiction. This is historical plus a lot more. This book has an exciting plot with a paranormal twist that is so well done that it doesn't leave you rolling your eyes like so many of the paranormal romances of recent memory have done. I fell into this book hard and never wanted to leave.

Although I enjoyed Anne and her role in the book as a contemporary character, I was completely drawn into the story and fascinated all the way to the end by the story of Genevieve and Andrew. This is the kind of love story that is timeless and makes you feel warm inside. I was happy while reading this.

Although from the cover of this book it would seem that it is more adult in nature, this novel would also be appropriate for a YA audience. The romance is believable and beautiful, but is never too steamy. The mystery of the connection between Anne and Genevieve is really the heart of this book, and it is a supremely written mystery at that. You can't quite figure it all out until the very end and even then, on the very last page there is more to think about.

Carmen Stefanescu has written a love story for those of us who know what that really means. If you have high expectations for your romance novels and expect to see characters with plenty of development, life and purpose then this is the book for you. When you read this novel, you feel you have entered another world. Stepping back in time through Carmen's descriptions and research, this was an incredible journey.

I would recommend this book to everyone YA audience and over. One of the best romances ever.
Profile Image for Liliana.
3 reviews3 followers
December 4, 2013
Over the past few days I had the delight to read Carmen Stefanescu’s novel ‘Shadows of the past’. A novel that beautifully weaves together tales of the past and modern times.
Anne, the heroine, is a successful businesswoman who tried to rekindle her relationship with Neil after a two-year separation. They leave for a one-week trip during which they camp in a strange forest. A dream Anne has leads to the discovery of human bones and a bejeweled cross in the hollow of a tree. The discovery opens the door to the life of Genevieve, a nun from medieval England, but also stirs an evil spirit that lurks in the forest and hunts the ruins of an abbey nearby.
Although much different in personalities, Genevieve and Anne are connected in a way that the reader will want to discover, avidly reading to the last page thanks to Carmen Stefanescu’s wonderful writing. A novel that I couldn’t put down, touching, tragic, suspenseful, simply compelling.
Carmen Stefanescu’s novel is a riveting story that will make the reader fall in love with its enticing mystery, skillfully blending elements of love and hatred, magic and superstitions, murder and repentance. I gladly give it a FIVE STARS.
Profile Image for Amanda Shelley-Masters.
436 reviews21 followers
December 4, 2013
This book was amazing! I don't usually read books that aren't YA books anymore but occasionally I come across one that sparks my interest like this one did.The author Carmen Stefanescu did a amazing job on describing people and places and I felt like I was in the story from start to finish. I loved all the historical elements to the story and all the attention to detail that Carmen puts into the story especially when it came to the wiccan people and their practices. As a wiccan myself I really appreciated this aspect.I also loved the villain in the story I always say you can't have a good story without an good villain and wow I wanted to run...lol...I best part though was the tremendous love felt throughout the whole book that through all the tragic loss and pain there was still love.

Anne and her husband Neil are trying to rekindle their romance with a week long vacation and some hiking when they get lost in the woods. The woods are spooky and Anne begins to have dreams and visions of a woman who looks very much like her and leads them deeper into the forest. They soon learn that this may be the tragic restless spirit of Genevieve a nun from the local Abby with a most tragic and lost past and who is still being chased by the one thing she feared most. Can they save her and themselves before it is to late?

The book goes back and forth from the past to the present which in some books I have found annoying but quite enjoyed in this book. I was a little confused for maybe the first two chapters but quickly learned what all the back and forth meant. Genevieve quickly became my favorite character and I was hooked on her heartbreaking story! I just couldn't put the book down! I highly recommend this book to one and all! `
Profile Image for Paulette Mahurin.
Author 12 books202 followers
December 4, 2013
Carmen Stefanescu’s Shadows of the Past was a great read that I enjoyed from the first page through the last sentence, that I was sorry to see end; I tried to savor this one, make it last, that’s how entertaining a read it is. The author writes a tightly worded, intelligent, story, a story within a story, then and now, from a past that needed resolution in a modern day couple. The dreams and visions the protagonist, Anne, experienced set the stage for the unfolding of a story, brilliantly told, moving through her as a past life apparition, Genevieve. The character development of Anne and her partner Neil, and other story counterparts is really well done, but the star of he story is the tragic Genevieve, as if taken from the pages of Shakespeare, one can not imagine less unfortunate issues to befall a human being, and in counterpoint is the lusciously evil antagonist the Abbess, who you read page after page hoping she gets hers. The pages invite the reader in with a wanting to know what is going to happen to Anne, to Genevieve, and page after page as the tension builds the reader is not disappointed. This is an excellently crafted work, by an author who clearly knows how to write, who understands literature, and knows how to tell a compellingly great story. I loved this one.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews712 followers
January 10, 2018
“Shed blood never dies, they say. It cried for the settling of things.”

This book wasn’t for me. I had quite a few problems with this one. Ms. Carmen approached me with this book, asking if I would review it, I checked out the trailer and the synopsis and it sounded really interesting. Plus that title. It wasn’t the type of stuff I usually read but never the less I decided to try it because it sounded good.

I think the main problem with the book was the writing style. Because of it I couldn’t connect to the characters. The whole plot line was amazing and I liked how the past and the future didn’t exactly overlap each other. They were very alike but they weren’t the exact same thing.

The thing with the writing style was that it was too wordy, like dumping words from a dictionary or thesaurus. For example the sentence “My curiosity’s aroused”. The author could have said the same thing using different words that would help the reader connect to the book more.

One of my other problems was the characters. They were too pants (if you don’t know what I mean, go to http://theoatmeal.com/story/twilight ). There wasn’t much about their personalities. I mean, we know how they look like, what jobs they do, the reason Neil and Anne broke up but that’s about it. We don’t know what they like or anything.
Some of the more annoying things were that the story line that takes place in the past didn’t seem like it was taking place in the 15th century. There is a certain way people act that helps you know what century they were in. It was like there were the rituals/traditions/etiquettes of that century but it didn’t seem like they were in that century. You could tell from the way to talk.

The way Neil and Anne talked in the present was similar so it sounded really weird because that’s not how people talked even in 1990’s, I am sure of it. Plus the whole nickname thing, it doesn’t make sense that the same nickname would be used in the 15th century and in the 20th century. That’s too coincidental. When you think about the 15th century was still middle English so they wouldn’t use a nickname like “My beautiful wood anemone”.

I also disliked the fact that the whole story was centered around love, I love romances but to have a story centered around love, it didn’t work for me.

I think one of the better parts was the ending, it left us on the note that it wasn’t completely an HEA, shit would still happen but you got the feeling that they would get through with it.

Thanks a lot to the author and publisher for providing me a copy to review.

This review is also posted on my blog
Profile Image for Michikit.
68 reviews7 followers
December 4, 2013
I always enjoy a good mystery story and Shadows of the Past had plenty or it. I initially did not know what to expect, but whatever I wanted from the book before I started it, I receive 10 times more. It was so good and I found myself thrown in two different lives.

The story was told from two points of view, two characters belonging to different times. I’ve usually read books that had characters from the same time, but not in this one. Genevieve lived in the 15th century and Anne’s story takes place in 1990. The thing is, I couldn’t decide whose story I was most eager to follow because each of them had its share of mystery. Every time I started with Genevieve’s story I wanted to see what Anne was doing and every time I went back to Anne I needed to see Genevieve again.

Genevieve’s story begins actually with the ending and afterwards her entire life is unfolded right in front of us. Her life was tragic, from the begging until the very end. She lost her father thanks to the cursed forest which triggered a chain reaction and soon, her entire family was dead. When she finally settled down she was forced to leave again because the forest managed to take another person that she grew fond of just see herself under the protective wing of Mother Superior.

I must say that I enjoyed the descriptions on the 15th century places, people, and the traditions. The way that everyone different was looked at with disgust because much like today, people would fear the unknown. But in those days everything was conducted to the extreme, different being associated with monsters and witches.

Anne’s story was the mild part of the book. She is a strong and independent woman, she knows what she wants and I simply loved her attitude when she caught her boyfriend with her best friend together. She is a strong business woman, clearly she is not that eager to show her weaknesses, but along with her normal life and appearance, she has also some paranormal abilities and with the help of them she can connect with Genevieve.

The love story was sweet and slow, full of some tender moments. The cover may not show it this way, but it is. It is based more on the emotional part and less on the physical one.

Of course that between Anne and Genevieve is a connection and of course I will not tell you which one because you will need to read it to know it. Trust me, I loved it and so will you, especially if you are into paranormal romance.

This was an amazing story, settled in the past and present, following the destiny of two women that are parted by 500 years.
Profile Image for Ankita.
Author 4 books173 followers
July 20, 2016
Well at first look you would think "I don't normally read this", that was my first thought as well. I normally read Young-Adult books and occasionally switch the genre. So when Ms. Carmen approached, after reading the synopses I was indeed intrigued with paranormal and historical theme so I gave it a chance. And I must say it was different and Amazing!!

The Book cover may seem Adult but story isn't so much, Yes there is romance but the sweet one. As Carmen said that she like to keep the romance sweet in her books.

‘Our past and our future are tea leaves in the cup of our present.’

Shadows of the past starts in the 14th century, with a medieval times girl Genevieve and alternatively introducing the modern times girl Anne. As the story proceeds the connection between both the girls gets more intricate. Where Anne is strong business women determined to reconcile with her love Neil, Genevieve is a victim of fate, terrible luck and forced to face the horrid world. As the medieval times story proceeds it creates an eerie atmosphere with a cursed forest, a strange stream, dark magic and many such things. Genevieve has faced many tragedies time and time again losing the people she loves then finally when circumstances made her a nun, the tragedies didn't cease. She fell in love with a Priest Father Andrew and he also loves her back but fate has again planned something dreadful for her.

Genevieve's heart breaking story seems very real. Carmen did a fantastic job in creating her character with such fineness and giving life to so many other characters.

The villain in the book is scary, spooky and very well created, her presence is there through out the book making every page more interesting, The villain has ruined Genevieve and is now disturbing Anne immensely.

Here, Anne is set on to have a nice time with Neil, to reconcile but she encounters a tormented soul and visions and that changed everything for her.

Being a strong headed women she is determined to solve the mystery of that ghost which leads to many revelations. Can she set that tragic soul free... or burn in the same magic!!

I love the ballad by almost the end describing the tragic destiny of Genevieve and Andrew.
“Shadows of the Past” is a real page-turner and a dark spooky romantic story that is crafted masterfully. Despite all the evil, love wins by the end. I really liked that.
Profile Image for Gaele.
4,079 reviews80 followers
December 4, 2013
This book shows incredible promise, with a cross-time romance, a really creepy villain and beautifully detailed and described worlds. The idea of being caught in a quest to remove a soul’s torment was an interesting one, especially the glimpses of the 1400-era world. The author has gone to great lengths to establish the wood as a dangerous, even cursed place. Unfortunately for me, while the intent was clearly established, the repetitive statements to that effect, and further repetitions of ‘key points’ throughout the story interrupted the reading flow, as I was waiting for something ‘more’ to happen with or to these oft repeated elements.

While Ms. Stefanescu has a beautiful turn of phrase and can deftly describe settings, places, worlds and characters, there was an overall lack of development and emotion coming from the characters: it is still hard to determine what makes them stand out. Conversations were also peppered with frequent repetition, several errors in word choice and even a discrepancy in language that would have been appropriate to the character of Genevieve –her speech, word choices and mannerisms were far too modern and didn’t fit her description.

The mystery is really well crafted: the world was built beautifully, but both the romance and the characters fell far short of what I was hoping for. While the surprise twist at the end did add a touch of wonder for me, I don’t know that I would be eager to read a sequel. However, fans who like a darker feel and menacing tone to their reads may appreciate this title far more than I.

I received an eBook copy from the publisher for purpose of honest review for the Jeep Diva. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Profile Image for Adriana Dascalu.
Author 7 books21 followers
December 4, 2013
The book is exactly what the blurb promises to be: a beautiful and touching paranormal love story that plays on the idea that love transcends time and soul mates will always search for each other.

First, I loved the premise of the book: the restless soul of a young nun from the XVth century leads Anne, its present day reincarnation, towards the place where the nun's body has been abandoned centuries ago without being aloud to find peace.

Secondly, I loved the shift between present and past, between Anne's and Genevive's stories and the way their stories are woven together. Carmen plays the visions/apparitions/dreams card and the fact that in spite of telling the story of two different female protags, she manages to create background for both Genevive and Anne.

Thirdly, I liked the descriptions the author used to put everything in place - I'm not usually a big fan of thorough descriptions, but this book is one of the few exceptions.

I'd say Carmen managed to write a beautiful, touching love story that transcends time, about overcoming adversity and one's learning, personal growth and transformation and a second love story about choices.

The end of the book is a happy one if just a little gloomy, which is understandable for such a tragic story (promising more, maybe? - I hope so).

I felt for Genevive's lack of luck, I loved Anne for her strenght and I loved the book.
Profile Image for Camelia Skiba.
Author 8 books204 followers
December 4, 2013
Shadows of the Past is the story of two young women, Genevieve and Anne their life, love and of the misfortunes they meet and how they handle the evil that wants to destroy them. It is a cross-time romance, with a creepy villain and beautifully described worlds.
The two stories, Anne's and Genevieve's, are equally compelling because these two women who lived over 500 years apart are connected by something. The legend of the cursed forest, of witchcraft, strange rituals and a forbidden love build a suspenseful, paranormal/ romance novel that will keep you glued to the pages.

The dreams and visions the protagonist of the modern day part of the novel - Anne- experienced set the stage for the unfolding of a story, brilliantly told, moving through her as a past life apparition, Genevieve. I loved the fact that I could relate to the characters; especially Genevieve’s tragic destiny made me sad. It’s important when the author manages to make me cry and laugh at the same time with the characters she created. Although from the cover of this book it would seem that it is more adult in nature, this novel would also be appropriate for a YA audience.

Carmen Stefanescu did a great job in creating this fictional world with such distinction and giving life to so many other characters. If you are fond of a classy romance mixed with a lot of historical background and suspense, then you'll love this. I gladly give it a FIVE STAR!
Profile Image for Ivana.
258 reviews66 followers
April 7, 2013
I accepted this book for review based on its promising synopsis; a ghost story that spans five centuries is not something I wanted to pass on. It was nice, the way the past was connected to the present was interesting, tapping into reincarnation and curses. Intrigued?

Still, I had a major problem with the characters. Genevieve wasn't that bad since we get to see enough of her difficult childhood, but Anne and Neil (our contemporaries) I found very bland and uninteresting. The dialogues were stiff an unnatural. One thing I particularly disliked was Neil's reasoning behind cheating on Anne. The poor thing has absolutely no idea how it happened that he got in bed with Anne's (former) best friend. Poor poor guy. I wasn't convinced. Sure, people make mistakes, I could see why Anne was willing to forgive him. But that explanation was laughable.

Overall, with more blood and flesh to the characters I would have enjoyed it more, but I liked the mystery surrounding the remnants of the covenant and the resolution to a tragic love story from five hundred years ago. Shadows of the Past is an adult novel, but very innocent when it comes to romantic situations.
3 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2013
Anne and her boyfriend Neil are on vacation in England to reconcile. What is supposed to be a quick hike to a romantic inn turns into a nightmare. One night next to a forest that emanates evil draws Anne into a tragedy that played itself out over 500 years before. Genevieve, a 15th century nun, visits Anne and beckons her to follow. Anne cannot resist and finds herself in the forest, drawn to a giant oak tree. This vision proves to be a dream, but now Anne is compelled to discover the story of Genevieve and set her free, if she can. Caught in a freak, violent thunderstorm, Neil and Anne seek refuge in an abbey ruin. But the ruin is not without secrets, secrets that could see both of them killed. For an evil stalks what should be blessed ground, and it seeks to prevent the two lovers from reconciliation and Anne from helping Genevieve.

Stefanescu has done her research. The 15th century was not a romantic time period, and Stefanescu brings it to life in all its “glory.” Beginning less than ten years before the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, superstition and fear ran rampant and being branded a witch meant certain death. The corruption in the church at this time is legendary and eventually led to Martin Luther, his 95 Theses, and the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The plague still cropped up randomly throughout Europe and England, wiping out entire villages. While the Renaissance had begun in other parts of Europe, it was just filtering into England as the War of the Roses was ongoing, only ending with the death of King Richard II at Bosworth Field in 1485.

In short, this was not an easy time to live.

Against this backdrop, we meet Genevieve, whose life is not surprisingly filled with desperation, sorrow, prejudice, and struggle. We follow her life through its many tragedies and few triumphs. As we do, we can only marvel at her resilient spirit, her ability to continue to love even though she has lost so much, and her desire to live despite it all. Finally, when all seems hopeless, she finds true love. But it is a forbidden love doomed from the outset as she is a nun and he is a priest. What will become of them?

The author does an excellent job seamlessly toggling back and forth between the story of Anne and Genevieve. I am more drawn to Anne’s story than Genevieve’s. This is because of the flowery prose in Genevieve’s section. Although this type of prose is indicative of the time period, it is not to my taste. That would be my only quibble with the book, even as I understand the reasoning behind it.

Still, this is a compelling story. I read it quickly and wanted to find out what became of Genevieve’s spirit and Anne and Neil’s relationship. I would gladly read a second book, if there is to be one. (The author certainly left an opening for a sequel.)

I would recommend it to people who enjoy atmospheric stories of the paranormal, love, passion, and history.
Profile Image for Liz.
193 reviews11 followers
December 4, 2013
We start off with a quick look into the life of Genevieve, a 15th century nun who is meeting the love of her life, a priest named Andrew to talk about leaving the Abbey. When you start the book, you think that Genevieve and Andrew's love is the reason they decide to leave the church. But once the story really starts rolling you see that Genevieve has not had an easy life. In fact, she's struggled through more than most people could handle in a lifetime by the time she's just 14. She thought she'd found her place in the world when she arrived at the Abbey and met the Mother Superior who was "more mother, and less superior". Living happily there for four years, she learn to love her surroundings, her fellow nuns, and the lifestyle. But when a new Abbess comes to take over, Genevieve's hard-won life of peace is changed forever.
We also follow the life of Anne, a woman on vacation in England with her former lover Neil. They are avid mountaineers and we join them mid-trek through a rather ominous forest. The purpose of the trip is to reunite them after a two year separation due to infidelity on Neil's part. When Anne starts having strange visions of a certain 15th century nun, she learns more and more about what happened to Genevieve all those years ago. Anne wonders about what part she plays in Genevieve's life and death as they unravel the nun's story.

The two stories are equally compelling because something is connecting these two women who lived over 500 years apart ...the question is: Are they joined by mutual love or desperate hate?

The Best Thing: The dual narrative was done really, really well. Especially with the added challenge of flashbacks and paranormal activity. I was impressed by the masterful way the stories were melded and the seamless historical elements that were included throughout. The research and knowledge on a range of subjects that was shown in this book was impressive for the genre its in.

The Worst Thing: I felt there was a problem with the modern romance part of the story. The character of Neil didn't seem authentic. There was no real insight into who he was as a person and, instead, he seemed to be a tool for relaying bits of information and a prop to fill the reincarnation parts of the story. The romantic relationships in the story came off as a bit hokey in general, which was disappointing because the story itself was such a fascinating one. It was also surprising because the paranormal aspects of the story were flawlessly executed.

Overall: Definitely worth a read and it serves as an interesting book in terms of crossing genre lines. I'm an avid young adult, fantasy, and classic novelist, so to read and truly enjoy a paranormal, historical romance was a wonderful surprise! 4 out of 5.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews588 followers
June 13, 2015
Two women, born centuries apart are connected through the ages by the secrets hidden in an ancient oak tree. Anne longs for reconciliation with her old boyfriend, but it must feel right in her heart. Genevieve wishes for hidden truths to be uncovered so she may finally feel eternal peace in death. When Anne and Neil discover the remains of a person long dead and a beautiful gem encrusted cross, they are left to embark on a journey into another realm where magic abounds, but witchcraft is feared. Who was Genevieve? What is her story? How does it relate to Anne’s life? Why was Anne chosen to free Genevieve after all these years?

Carmen Stefanescu’s Shadows of the Past is a paranormal mystery filled with suspense, intrigue and what almost appears to be a never-ending puzzle. Dark, with a strong writing style, Carmen Stefanescu details a story of the past melting into the future in order to receive eternal peace and to tell the truth of the events that led to one young nun believed to have simply disappeared. Was witchcraft involved? Was it the hands of fate seeking justice?

Ms. Stefanescu has succeeded in keeping a dark veil of intrigue over her tale, leaving her readers with the opportunity to live out “what-ifs” as this tale unfolds. If you enjoy the weight of a dark tale, with possible eyes watching from the shadows, as well as a feeling of “otherness,” this is a tale to pick up and enjoy, not too fast, not too light, a great, thought-provoking read.

I received this copy from Carmen Stefanescu in exchange for my honest review.

Publication Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Print Length: 152 pages
Available from: AmazonBarnes & Noble
For More Reviews, Promotions and all things Books visit: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Liss.
30 reviews16 followers
December 4, 2013
Shadows of the Past starts off in the 15th century with a nun named Genevieve. She is running away from the abbey to meet her love Andrew. The story jumps to 1990 in the first chapter to start the story of Anne and Neil. Each woman has her own story to tell but their stories are eerily entwined.

I love when I start reading a book and am immediately sucked in and can’t wait to know what happens next. I immediately started forming imagery in my head of the Abbey and the way Genevieve dressed. The creepy woods and what life must have been like for her. When the author approached me to read her book I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis and it had me wanting to know more.

The story is really well paced and thought out. The writing style is right up my alley. It was smooth and I felt like the transitions from one century to another flowed really well. Other books that I have read make a mistake in the transition and is hard to follow and thankfully this book was able to keep frustrations to a minimum.

I like the plot and mixing old and new romances. I like that the romance was clean and simple. You can focus on the story and not be distracted by gratuitous sex. I am a huge fan of classy rendezvous.

So that is the good. Now for what I didn't like. The Cover. Honestly if I saw this in a bookstore I probably wouldn't even pick this up to read the back cover. The man and women on the front don’t seem to fit inside the story. I like the top half of the cover but the couple on the bottom just seem out-of-place for the type of story. I am very visual and if a cover captures my attention and we all know how long my attention span is. Yes, that of a goldfish. So it really does have to have something to pull me in enough to want to read the synopsis.

Final Verdict

I really enjoyed this book. I like how author pulls you in right away and makes you want to keep reading. If your a fan of historical fiction or paranormal romance or both than I think you will enjoy it. Don’t the let paranormal part scare you away though. It is interwoven very well and doesn’t read like your typical paranormal book.
Profile Image for Cassandra Ulrich.
Author 12 books10 followers
December 4, 2013
“Shadows of the Past” by Carmen Stefanescu is a riveting story about souls reborn in a plight to overcome evil. Genevieve, a nun living at an abbey in the 1400s, did the one thing she promised would never happen. She fell in love. What’s worse, the man, Andrew, was a priest. Even more surprising is that he had also fallen in love with her. He promised he would return for her so they could renounce their vows and marry. Fear gripped her heart when he didn’t show up on time, especially after finding the resident gardener dead in a small house on the premises. She had to get away from Sister Clementa, the Abbess who only meant her ill and the cursed forest that brought death to anyone who entered.

By itself, this plot spiked my interest, but the next chapter introduced another couple, Anne and Neil, with their own drama in the present time. Anne separated from Neil for two years after she caught him with her best friend, Gillian. In an effort to reconcile, Anne agreed to join Neil on a special trip to the country where they could rekindle their love. Wandering around the side of a mountain, unable to find the hotel where Neil had made reservations, they set up camp for the night. That was when Anne experienced her first dream of a mournful Genevieve. Soon after Anne attempted to help this sad nun from the past, the mean Sister Clementa arrived in spirit form to destroy anyone who dared connect to the man she could never have – in this case, Neil the reincarnate Andrew.

With each chapter, the story revealed more secrets which kept me turning each page. I enjoyed that each era had its own chapter, helping me connect how the past events affected the present day relationships and supernatural occurrences.

I recommend “Shadows of the Past” to anyone interested in a meaty story with twists and shocking turns. Genevieve’s story does not leave one’s heart untouched. The cast of characters are definitely memorable.
Profile Image for Susan Day.
Author 137 books37 followers
December 16, 2013
Shadows of the Past by Carmen Stefanescu brings together two very different lives of two women. Both are our heroines - one from the 15th Century and one from our modern day . Their lives are intermingled around tragedy, boundless love and the power of good magic.

The story tells the tale of a young nun's difficult life and the contentment she finds living under the protection of a convent. Genevieve decided to join the convent because there were so little choices for young women on their own. Her life there was blissful to begin with but things don't go well when the kind hearted Abbess who has sheltered and nurtured Genevieve is replaced by a wicked, soulless creature whose jealously and persecution of the young nun is relentless. Things are further antagonised when the beautiful Genevieve falls in love with a man who the evil Abbess has intentions of seducing herself. The man is himself a man of God and this adds to the drama of the tale.

Anne is our modern hero. She's a successful business woman who is trying to repair a damaged relationship. She heads her family's business and is intelligent and articulate. Although worlds apart, the lives of the two women are intrinsically woven together in this charming book.

Meanwhile, Anne is trying to reconnect with a past lover on a hiking holiday. Unbeknown to her she finds herself in the same mysterious forest that has haunted Genevieve. Ghosts and spirits haunt her sleep and visions worry her waking hours. They are her 'Shadows of the Past'.

Ms Stefanescu is able to bring her readers two different stories and lace them together to produce an intriguing and interesting tale. I was able to appreciate the both worlds represented here and I easy became entranced with the suspense and mystery evoked in this absorbing tale.

I am giving this five stars and I am looking forward to reading more from Carmen Stefanescu.
Profile Image for Kirsty Bicknell.
657 reviews67 followers
December 4, 2013
Shadows of the Past is quite a difficult story to read as the narrative is split between Genevieve's story in the 15th century and Anne's in 1990. However, Carmen Stefanescu switches narrator alternately and connects the lives of the two women, revealing how the past has left and imprint on the present.
Genevieve's story is a melancholy one; made an orphan after her mother and siblings are murdered by her father, she is taken in by the local 'witch' who then dies and she is forced to work at the local inn where she is nearly raped and she runs to a nunnery. Here, she believes she is happy until the new Abbess arrives, takes a dislike to her and strange events start to take place.
Anne's history is not so detailed; her role in the story to give peace to Genevieve. However she has suffered heartbreak and is in the mountains with Neil to attempt to salvage their relationship.
Carmen Stefanescu builds the atmosphere in Shadows of the Past, initially suggesting an evil entity in the 'cursed forest' when Genevieve's father returns home; then the stories about the Abbess and her behavior heighten the tension and ominous feelings; eventually in the present we are left with Anne's visions of ghosts and not only Genevieve, also the one who wants harm to come to her.
These paranormal elements help to make Shadows of the Past more exciting for the reader as there is never a feeling of tedium within this story.
There is a small element of romance here and for both women it can be seen as their downfall and their savior. Despite this, at the end of the book we see Anne reconcile with love so perhaps she has reached this for both of them.
Shadows of the Past is an intense and at times sad story with two strong heroines, and I definitely recommend it for fans of paranormal fiction.
Profile Image for Terri Talley.
Author 29 books9 followers
December 4, 2013
In the prologue of Shadows of the Past, we meet the young, medieval nun named Genevieve who lives in an Abbey in rural England. The remote Abbey is only accessible via the cursed forest. We also meet a young visiting priest named Andrew and catch a glimpse of their dire circumstances.

In a parallel love story, we fast forward to modern day England and meet Anne and Neil. They’re attempting to rekindle their love affair after suffering a brutal, two-year hiatus. After getting lost in the woods, actually the cursed forest, they battle the elements, starvation, and ghosts of the past.

Carmen takes us on a journey of the young nun, Genevieve. Starting from her childhood, we follow Genevieve’s path to the Abbey. We experience her hardships in her childhood, and then again at the Abbey where the corrupt convent leader, is out to get her with her abusive power and evil worships.

In the modern day setting, we follow Anne and Neil’s journey through the cursed forest. Led by ghosts haunting Anne’s dreams, she discovers an old skeleton wearing a bejeweled cross. Anne senses the skeleton and the tormented ghost are one in the same. The modern day and medieval stories weave together to rekindle love and triumph over evil.

Carmen’s fantastic writing paints vivid pictures, transporting you to the medieval Abbey and the cursed forest. I felt like I was right there with the wonderful characters she created.

I loved reading two stories at once. The modern day characters, Anne and Neil, and the star-crossed lovers of the past, Genevieve and Andrew. I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to know how the two stories truly connect over five-hundred years later.

I loved her creativity with the wood anemone, bejeweled cross, and past lives. I highly recommend this fast-paced, page turning tale and can’t wait to read more of Carmen’s stories
December 4, 2013
With Anne and Neil off to try to see if they could reconcile their relationship you could be fooled to thinking this story is just about romance but it's about so much more.

The author constructed a story around love but also a historical piece of work that is full of historical facts that if you love that sort of thing, you're going to absolutely love this. The story is told from two views, Anne's and Genevieve's so you are being fed the past and the present.

I enjoyed the book for its historical content and the two views input worked well but I felt that it did hamper the characterisation of the main characters which was a shame. I could visualise the characters but I felt detached from them, I didn't care about them enough to really fall in love with this book. I knew how the characters looked but I didn't know much about them, their personalities were just names in a book. I prefer to know more about characters, that might just be me. I think the two views side of the book was great but I wonder if that might also be why I couldn't get attached to the characters.

Had I not been sent the book request to review this then I probably would never have picked up the book. But I am glad that I did. If you want a classy romance mixed with a lot of historical references and background then you will love this.

This review was also posted on Larissa's Bookish Life
Profile Image for Larissa.
533 reviews102 followers
December 4, 2013
Review by Sarah
Originally Posted at Welcome to Larissa's Bookish Life

With Anne and Neil off to try to see if they could reconcile their relationship you could be fooled to thinking this story is just about romance but it's about so much more.

The author constructed a story around love but also a historical piece of work that is full of historical facts that if you love that sort of thing, you're going to absolutely love this. The story is told from two views, Anne's and Genevieve's so you are being fed the past and the present.

I enjoyed the book for its historical content and the two views input worked well but I felt that it did hamper the characterization of the main characters which was a shame. I could visualize the characters but I felt detached from them, I didn't care about them enough to really fall in love with this book. I knew how the characters looked but I didn't know much about them, their personalities were just names in a book. I prefer to know more about characters, that might just be me. I think the two views side of the book was great but I wonder if that might also be why I couldn't get attached to the characters.

Had I not been sent the book request to review this then I probably would never have picked up the book. But I am glad that I did. If you want a classy romance mixed with a lot of historical references and background then you will love this.
Profile Image for Mia Darien.
Author 64 books166 followers
December 4, 2013
Normally, I review self-published authors, but I am willing to do small press releases sometimes and this is from someone I know online. I actually read this book pre-release when I was giving the author a little help on the manuscript, but I'm very happy to see that it's out and available now.

I found this book to be very intriguing. It jumps between the tale of Genevieve in medieval times to Anne in modern times, and weaves their tales together. The darkness and troubles that blend through the lives of the two women and the paranormal edges to it all gave it a very eerie atmosphere, and it was interesting to see the relationships develop.

It also went one place where I was wondering how the author would manage something, but then she surprised me and I liked that. It is always good to have an author manage to catch you like that. Though even though it was a surprise, afterwards it was like... Well, it couldn't have happened any other way, really.

I enjoyed it, and I think others will too. A solid 4.
Profile Image for Luca Rossi.
Author 20 books386 followers
January 28, 2014
Shadows of the Past by Carmen Stefanescu was a terrific read.
I loved the historical settings. When she writes about the Medieval Times I really could feel myself there.
The plot is awesome, with lots of twists and turns and stories inside stories.
It’s a mix of modern and ancient times. Genevive lives in England in 1468 and Anne in 1980. Anne has problems with her partner but she’s now trying to forgive him. When she has a very odd dream while camping, she decides to look for an oak tree. From there, it begins the mix of ancient and modern, magic, feelings and love.
The characters are truly alive, the writing style is elegant, dialogues are superb.
I liked how all characters can show their true emotions, sometimes they are good, sometimes bad, they love, hate and do horrible things.
It’s a highly recommended read.
Profile Image for Rosie Amber.
Author 0 books114 followers
April 24, 2013
A clever tale woven between 2 times zones. The story is set in England and follows the sad story of a Nun in the 15th Century. Then we move to the modern day and are caught up with 2 hikers who get lost in a forest that has an evil feel about it. Shadows from the past swirl around the couple until they stumble across help from a modern day white witch and solve the mysteries of the past.
Profile Image for Bianca.
211 reviews
March 28, 2013
Thank you ,Carmen, for giving me the opportunity to read this book. :)

General Opinion: I'm not a fan of religion so I don't read book involving churches and religion often. But I said tat I should try this bok. And, I am not dissapointed at all. "Shadows f the Past" is a great books, with ups and downs, but being Carmen's first book I think it's totally normal. I really want to read something else that she wrote. She's a great author, with a lot of imagination.
What made me read it: A friend of mine, Paulette Mahurin (also an amazing author) recommend it to me, saying that is amazing and I have to read it. So when Carmen contacted me, I accepted her invitatin to read the book and, after some weeks, I finally read the book.
What I liked the most: The world-building it's amazing.I liked that every details of the story was very well constructed and the result is amazing. The story captivates you, but not from the start. I started to be curious about what's gonna happen next after te first 30% of the book.
Other good things: The characters are very likable, realistic and you you get attached with them quickly. I liked Genevieve, with her dramatism and intelligence.
I loved that there are a lot of metaphors in the book so the book has an unique musicality and it's very elegant.
As I said, Carmen is a very talented author and she knows how to write a book. Her writing is amazing. :) I can't wait for another book of hers. :)
The love story in this book is very romantic and quite unique. I've never read a book where a priest falls in love with a nun, so this was different for me.
What I disliked: As I said in the beginning of this review, I'm nt a fan of religion,meaning that I don't believe in God. So for me, this book containted a little bit too much of churches and God references and well, religion.
The start was a little slow. I also think that the love story should've been a little more accentuated. Genevieve and Andrew's story is very beautiful, but it starts a little too late into the book.
Final Opinion: "Shadows of the Past" is a great book and I liked it and recommend it. :)
I recommend it to: Everyone except of (atheists).
Would I read it again: This is a great read, but I think that one time was enough.
Do I want to read he sequel: The end didn't leave room for a sequel, but if there's gonna be one, of course I'll read it.
Rate: 4 stars out f 5
Profile Image for Julie G.
103 reviews21 followers
March 5, 2013
There is nothing I love more than a good paranormal romance. Something that makes me warm and fuzzy, and gives me goosebumps. Occasionally, all at the same time.

Shadows of the Past alternates between Genevieve's story and Anne's. One a 15th Century nun; the other, a 20th Century businesswoman. Yet, somehow, you just know there's a connection.

In the mid-1400s, the gap between the haves and have-nots is huge. For Genevieve, her parents and siblings, life is extremely difficult. Then, following a trip to the forest stream to catch fish, her father is forever changed. And life becomes dangerous.

Anne comes back from a business trip to find her boyfriend, Neil, in bed. And her partner sauntering out of the bathroom - naked. In a fit of rage, she throws them both out of her home and her life.

Two years later, Anne and Neil are trying to rekindle their relationship with a trip to the English countryside. Lost in the forest, they come across the ruins of an abbey. Little do they know that this is where Genevieve sought refuge, nearly 500 years before.

When Anne starts to have visions and they discover a skeleton in a hollow tree, the couple seeks help from local authorities and the resident Wiccan. What they find challenges all that they believe.


Despite great promise, this book fell short for me. The writing was, for lack of a better phrase, awkward. It read like a translation and, occasionally, like a poor one.

I would have liked to see the characters more fully developed, their 'voices' more individualized. One person seemed to sound much like another, regardless of gender or century. Twentieth-century colloquialisms, coming from a fifteenth-century individual, just sounds ... wrong.

The surprise at the end, hinting at a second book, was intriguing. I just hope that Neil develops a bit more ... spine by then.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary electronic galley of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Ruth B.
676 reviews38 followers
April 8, 2013
If you believe in past lives and eternal love, Shadows of the past is the perfect book for you. Anne has decided to give her husband a second chance but when they get lost in the woods her present will mix with the past introducing us in an intriguing story about misfortunes, sins, friendship and forbidden love (among other things).

Genevieve is a young girl from the fifteen century; her story unfolds between 1468 and 1480. Her life is full of tragic and dark moments but also there are some bright moments. After many turns in her life she becomes a nun and at first she has a happy and tranquil life. However, after the death of the Abbess things go from bad to worse.

Two stories that intertwined in a unique path, a journey to discover the truth with the hope to give eternal peace and justice to one of them. Two lives five hundred years apart but so close in spirit. Alternating between the two women and the two times, we discover little by little the decisions that led to the point where we are today.

Shadows of the Past is a paranormal story with hints about ghosts and reincarnation. This is a story that maintains the sensation of mystery through most part of the book and has some elements of surprises. It keeps you guessing and wondering how things ended up like this.

Anne and Genevieve are both great characters, but the story of Genevieve is more interesting and engaging besides her character felt more complete than Anne’s. Still, they are good characters and I had a great time reading about them.

Overall, a well written story with and exquisite vocabulary. Appealing, entertaining and with a good dose of romance.

*** I received an ecopy from the author in exchange for an honest review. ***
December 4, 2013
Carmen Stefanescu demonstrates an appreciation of language that weaves beautifully through the pages of Shadows of the Past. She pins together stories of two women, one from the late Middle Ages and the other a modern business woman, and she does this in a way that defies traditional character roles. Her smooth transitions between the time periods in which these women lived blend their passions and heartaches, as if only days separated them. Neither is able to rid herself of her past, Genevieve from the memory of her brutal father and then the equally harsh Abbess, and Anne from a lover’s betrayal. And then there’s that forest, with its haunting silence where even dried leaves crush quietly beneath their feet, and the hounds of Hell circle just out of sight. But, they can’t resist the urge that draws them deeper and deeper into it, that dark place where nightmares live.
Stefanescu spices the plot with Old Bertha. Her potions and spells rival Shakepeare’s witches; although, she never dances around the cauldron. But, dance or not, she seems to bring Genevieve equal measures of hope and despair. Perhaps the same is true for Anne with Neil. Therein lies the charm of this love story, nothing and no one is fully good or bad, not even the heroines. And, that makes them relatable to all of us. Well, maybe the Abbess was all bad.
In all this, a romance crosses the ages, crosses centuries, without fading or losing any of the fire that sparked it. For a tap on your heart and a tingle in your spine, right down to the last page, I invite you to join Genevieve and Anne in their joys and sorrows and, yes, their fears in this tightly-written story.
Profile Image for Sheri (Tangled Up In Books).
470 reviews46 followers
February 20, 2013
Originally posted on my blog! :) :)

I don't normally read historical books, but, the author contacted me noticing my interest in paranormal novels and asked if I might give her book a try. Her brief description interested me and I gladly accepted. I must say I was pleasantly surprised! The book goes back and forth between Anne and Genevieve, past and present, and weaves a mysterious story. Genevieve's life is so full of tragedy and loss. It's heartbreaking to read at times.

And don't let the cover fool you. The small touches of romance here and there are, as she explained to me, just very sweet and nothing steamy. The bulk of the story is Anne trying to piece together her strange visions and finding out what happened to Genevieve and Andrew! :) The two intertwining love stories are more like a happy little bonus to the exciting story.

Carmen Stefanescu does such a great job with descriptive details and you can easily picture everything she's laying out before you. Even though it isn't normally my type, I mostly have a hard time with how people, well women especially were treated historically. Especially back in the 15th century which was Genevieve's time period. Still I enjoyed reading it and I want to thank her for giving me the opportunity to read it! It's worth the read, funny enough the mysterious historical side of the story is what grabbed me the most. I just had to find out how Genevieve's tale ended.
Profile Image for Cerian.
361 reviews74 followers
April 29, 2013
Shadows of the Past alternates between telling you the story of two different women, Genevieve and Anne. Genevieve is a 15th century nun with a tragic past, and Anne is a modern businesswoman trying to mend a broken relationship with her boyfriend, Neil.
I was impressed at the way the author weaved together the past and the present, and Anne and Genevieve’s separate stories.

I was easily drawn in to Genevieve’s story, the intrigue and danger grabbed my attention. I loved that it almost started at the end, and then it was explained throughout the story.

There were a few elements throughout the story that stopped me from giving it a higher rating. For instance, when in the past I thought the dialogue and actions weren’t very historically accurate, not that I’m an expert! Although, I enjoyed the connection between Anne and Genevieve.

Whilst I was interested in what was happening between the characters, I didn't feel them emotionally, which is how I usually read. They were fairly likeable, but I’d have liked to see more characterisation so that they all had their own voices.

This book definitely left me wanting more, and there were questions left unanswered. It felt like it was left open for a sequel, so I hope there will be one. I’m very curious about what happens!

*I received a copy from the author, for my honest review.
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