Once in awhile you read a book that leaves a lasting impression. That is what this book does. At first it seems like a Victorian romance novel but then it turns into a mystery novel that also deals a lot with loss and coming of age.
Anna is an orphan who lost her parents when she was 10 in an accident. She now lives with her aunt, uncle and cousin in quite well to do London circles: her aunt hosts soirées where aristocracy and artist mingle. Anna has a bit of money of her own but is no heiress and envisions herself as a governess or ladies companion (she has reddish hair and freckles what was not that popular then and no dowry). Her slightly younger beautiful cousin has a lot of admirers and is dreaming about marriage. One evening that cousin takes Anna to a clairvoyant what scares the hell out of her.
But then a rich widower, Lord Hope (his grandfather bought the title otherwise he would have been to far above Anne socially although his mother is like the dowager duchess in Downton Abbey), asks for her hand in marriage and he takes her to his neo-gothic castle in Cornwall. I have never been in Cornwall but the landscape is described as rugged as I remember the place I stayed on Kintire in Scotland, You can picture the castle overlooking the ever changing scene of the sea.
Lord Hope - Reece - is a tall chestnut haired calm man with intriguing grey eyes. But in the book he stays a bit like a shadow. A huge man Anne likes to cuddle up with in bed. Who embodies safety for her. Who is very good in sex. But is hardly ever home so Anna who is still a very young woman has to manage all by herself: running the huge household with all the servants, trying win over her 10 years old stepdaughter, keeping an eye on a cousin who is also tutored in the castle and last but not least deal with Simeon the brother of Reece who is his opposite in colouring but also in character.
Then weird things start to happen and Anne who has had the Sight all her life starts wondering if her predecessor Natasha is really dead or still alive. Are the servants correct that the castle us haunted or is it foul play by a human evil? Or is Anne loosing her mind over a great loss? Is the writer going to give us a ghoststory and will the book be fantasy or will it be a murder mystery?
I had several theories and when we find out what is going on it was one of those. And it does not come out of thin air. You can deduct it. Although I had to read the end again to see it all.
The writer does a very good job. Maybe it is what I would have liked myself: a castle with a seaview, a handsome hunk for a husband and dogs and children but somehow the writer made me identify with Anna what made the story a real page turner. She is also very good in worldbuilding: you can see the landscape and all the different persons around and in the castle: Simeon her brother in law and her stepdaughter are really well fleshed out. The devastation of a personal loss is also well described.
I was a really good read! I can certainly recommend it and I hope to read more of her.