Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars
Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself.
Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself.
To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within?
Her mother was incensed! How could her youngest daughter with a physical disability leave to be an assistant to the heir of Morton Abbey? Wouldn’t it be better for her to live with her sister and help with her older sister’s child rearing and other household tasks? Having been trained by her father though, Vaughn Springthorpe is no shrinking violet, and she has no intention of being a house servant the rest of her life despite her mother’s objections when she leaves for the new position.
Morton Abbey is situated in a remote area of the moors. She caught the correct train only to discover there is no carriage or transportation waiting for her. Finally, an old worn horse drawn carriage arrived at the station to take her to the Abbey. No one seemed eager to assist her into the vehicle or encourage her to the property. Finally, they grudgingly assist her into the carriage and loaded her luggage.
Ms. Harwood spins a very descriptive yarn about the plight of a young lady at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th. Her description of the Abbey is depressing as the estate certainly leaves a lot to be desired. Shabby and showing disrepair, it seems the last place a young invalid should seek employment. The well-developed characters working in the Manor are less than welcoming. One would expect a more cordial welcome after the long journey.
They were expecting a young male solicitor, not an unlicensed young lady! Vaughn is very well qualified, however, being the product of on-the-job training by her father. Her employer, Sir Peter Spencer, is the eldest son and has gone through the family’s money and is looking to sell the property. His younger brother has a number of frailties and is sequestered in a part of the structure.
I enjoyed the twists and turns of the characters as the story developed. The story moves quickly and held my interest throughout the book. Recommended! 5 stars – CE Williams
We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.
Genre: Gothic Romances, Gothic Romance, Gothic Fiction
Print Length: 361 pages
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: The Curse of Morton Abbey [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble
The Author: Clarissa Harwood is the author of three historical novels. Publishers Weekly called her first novel, IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS, “a rich debut.” Her second novel, BEAR NO MALICE, won the Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society, and Kirkus Reviews praised it as “a smart and highly civilized tale about love, temptation, and second chances.”
Clarissa holds a PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. In addition to being a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, she currently lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and three neurotic cats.
To learn more, visit http://www.clarissaharwood.com
© CE Williams – V Williams