Multi-talented author Jacqueline Seewald knows how to structure and dramatize a story in many genres, including young adult and adult mysteries--and nMulti-talented author Jacqueline Seewald knows how to structure and dramatize a story in many genres, including young adult and adult mysteries--and now a gothic romance replete with ghosts, psychics, and visionaries. Her masterful Dark Moon Rising will make the reader alternately sigh, pant, recoil, panic, and weep. At heart her lovely heroine Cass Lowry could be you or me, in search of a dream man, a career, and a life of true love. But unlike ourselves, Cass, on the way to a teaching job, finds herself lost in a southern forest and then found by a “dark and urgent” man who leads her to a manse that carries a curse inside its fearsome walls. Her car has broken down, and she finds herself prisoner in the house with its sinister ghosts, its odd fragrance of lilac, its fierce militaristic patriarch, and its rather antagonistic characters. She is drawn to dream man Jim Hunt, but who is he? She trusts him yet fears his violence when he comes close to raping her. And who is the mysterious Saffron whom the minister claims is possessed by demons? Why is Jim’s brother Drew so madly in love with “crazy” Saffron? So many questions for Cass to figure out! But ultimately she does, and our worries about Jim and his enemies subside in a suspenseful, bang-up denouement that will keep readers breathing hard even more than with the steamy sex scenes. The dialogue is excellent throughout, and the brothers’ conflict beautifully developed. Secondary characters also come to life: a villain is described as “broad like a massive, old tree trunk.” A rather naïve romantic, heroine Cass is sympathetic and resolute. The setting is superb, and the language often insightful, with body language used to express emotions (“Sarah shifted uneasily in her chair.”) This reader hopes, like Cass, that any violence in her Jim is “able to change” in her warm hands and heart. And that their future will be rosy, loving, and free of ghosts and ghastly enemies. After all, this is a gothic romance, and author Seewald serves its conventions well. Readers will be wholly fulfilled. ...more
A Robert Burns' fan, I was quickly drawn into this captivating novel. I breathed in the roses: their fragrance--and thorns. I identified with Ashby, lA Robert Burns' fan, I was quickly drawn into this captivating novel. I breathed in the roses: their fragrance--and thorns. I identified with Ashby, lover of gothic novels and feminist-dreamer--so vulnerable in her strange room, cut off from her old world. At first I resisted the mysterious ghost, Rosabelle, but soon sensed her "immortality where nothing is ever lost, or dies, or changes." Ah, the romance of it! (not to mention handsome Luke). Ashby brings to mind visionary Catherine in Austen's Northanger Abbey--and my own girlhood with errant horses. When Ashby falls from her horse, I know the pain. Coryell was wise to make her heroine half "aristocrat Overton" and half "blue collar Mills." Eddie Mills turns out to be more sheep than wolf, but through Eddie we fight the Civil War again. Does love and hate exist in the same family? the author asks. But yes! Her magic pulls us toward an ending that will thrill and chill. A Red Red Rose is a richly plotted novel with a wholly engaging heroine--and so wonderfully written I could see, taste, feel and live each moment of it. Five stars,yes. And a bouquet of roses!...more
THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is the evocative coming-of-age tale of a sensitive high school sophomore who lives with her mother and disabled stepfathe THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is the evocative coming-of-age tale of a sensitive high school sophomore who lives with her mother and disabled stepfather in a poor section of town—in a house full of secrets. She is a talented artist, but weak in geometry, and somewhat reluctantly accepts tutoring from the handsome football quarterback, Gar Hansen. A nice “catch” indeed, for he is kind and thoughtful, and her parents adore him. But then the exuberant womanizer, Kevin Moore, interrupts her routine life with bold talk and a shiny red Corvette--a gift from his rich, dysfunctional parents. And worse: his snobby sister Caron is trying to pull Gar into her sensual net. Kevin, with his “carpe diem” philosophy, is a wild fellow: aggressive, yet full of charm and persuasion that makes it hard for Danna to refuse him. Author Seewald draws a full- bodied portrait of Kevin, complete with flaws that, oddly, render him even more complex and interesting to this reader than the steadfast Gar. Through a commissioned portrait Danna paints of his sister, Kevin actually takes her a step closer to becoming a professional artist. It is to Seewald’s credit that she doesn’t portray Danna as a victim or Kevin as a total predator--but shows us both the devil and the angel in him. But those who have read Milton’s Paradise Lost know how seductive a devil can be! The title itself, a riff on the famous tale of “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” is nicely woven into the novel with the occasional appearance of a tall dark man, a sort of double for Kevin who tries to seduce Danna, and make her “sell her soul” to him. So Danna, herself a descendent of Webster, must try to face the creepy fellow down. Readers will admire the way she does this! Seewald moves deftly back and forth between friends, boyfriends, and parental concerns—trying to overcome a rift between herself and her grumbly stepfather--and we watch her slowly realize who she is as a person. A dramatic discovery in the attic about her past adds to the identity process, and helps her to think independently—and to choose wisely. Her “brainy” friend Joyce helps, too, and shows the reader how important a true friend can be. On the whole, this is a well written, beautifully paced novel with lots of clever dialogue, excellent in-depth characterization—as well as sweet bits of romance.
It was the setting, the mystical atmosphere, that first pulled me into the tale of The Third Eye. To resolve a haunted past, the "emotionally delicateIt was the setting, the mystical atmosphere, that first pulled me into the tale of The Third Eye. To resolve a haunted past, the "emotionally delicate" artist Ariel has brought her husband and sons, Raven and Jim, to the Pine Barrens of N.J. A "wild and desolate" Tolkien-like forest which Ariel envisions full of "trees twisting in wind," the Barrens is a place her one might hear the cries of the mystical Jersey Devil, or for young Jim, the keening barn owls, "like troubled spirits of the dead." The fearsome white stag might appear, its presence auguring death--as it does one day when Jim and his schoolmate Mary discover the bludgeoned body of Nora Butler, a woman unhappily wed to the "bone-deep ugly Orlo." And when Jim stumbles on the bloody corpse of Nora's employer, Derrick Sawyer, his mother Ariel, blood kin to both victims, becomes a suspect. The story moves quickly forward to a thrilling resolution through the eyes and ears of Jim, Raven, Ariel and other intriguing persons. Jim puts his own life in peril to save his mother, and in the process, learns to see the world and himself--short though he is--through a new lens. The novel is filled with finely drawn, believable characters (one can't help but want to hug Jim), sharp,crisp dialogue, a sweet hint of romance, a plot-ful of surprises, and above all, a deeply realized sense of place. The Third Eye kept this reader under its spell for long hours after she--reluctantly--turned the last magical page....more
As a Vermonter passionate about history, and in particular, the long journey-quest of the local Abenaki people to gain respect and official recognitioAs a Vermonter passionate about history, and in particular, the long journey-quest of the local Abenaki people to gain respect and official recognition in our state, I've found myself wholly captivated by Leslie Wheeler's Murder at Spouter's Point. Amateur sleuth historian Miranda, a favorite of mine through two other "living history" mysteries is once again her feisty, wholly engaging self. Yet it's her outspoken, volatile lover, Native Amderican Nate Barnes, who pulls me most intensely into the story. I can't help but admire his passion for his people, his culture, and his stubborn loyalty to his tribal friend Jimmy, a victim of bias who flees after becoming prime suspect for the death of a young woman's fiance. Together, Miranda and Nate combat superstition, deep-seated angers and prejudice in their resolve to discover the truth behind the killing. Through superb storytelling and characterization, along with a fascinating lesson in Native American and whaling lore (don't miss those delightul epigraphs from Moby Dick and a variety of sea chanty songs), Wheeler whips the ship of fiction into a heart-pumping climax. This beautifully researched novel has everything: an evocative history, suspenseful mystery, great characters--even a splash of romance. As reader, my only mistake was to take the book to bed with me--turning away sleep until the last thrilling page. ...more