Wednesday, April 1, 2009

'Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark' by Donna Lea Simpson

I have to come right out and say that I did not use to consider myself a die-hard fan of romance novels. I did devour them when I was a teenager but then the real life happened and a happily-ever-after romance lost its appeal to me. I therefore approached Donna Lea Simpson’s Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark with a mixture of anxiety and skepticism. After reading it I can safely say that I am back on the bandwagon.
Lady Anne is visiting her lifelong friend Lydia at her husband’s family estate in 18th century Yorkshire. Anne arrives there upon Lydia’s strange and a bit frightening request. Apparently, there are rumors of a werewolf scavenging the lands of Darkfell Castle and Lydia’s fresh marriage to Lord John Darkfell gets slightly worrisome as well. After her arrival, Anne stumbles upon a vicious murder and realizes that her stay will be much more complicated than she bargained for. Especially that she has to deal with frustratingly stubborn Lord Darkfell, Lydia’s brother-in-law., who also happens to have an unfamiliar in its immensity pull on Anne.
I have to say that I really enjoyed Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark. It is a mixture of mystery, romance and historical fiction. Lady Anne is a feisty character, not easily overshadowed by others. She tends to be a little bit of a pest in her relentless search for the truth behind the murder, but Ms. Simpson makes sure that her heroine is a charming and funny pest that I couldn’t help but like.
The romance plot is surprisingly subtle. I appreciated the way Ms. Simpson engaged in developing this part of the story. There was nothing forceful or distasteful about it. Rather, the usual elements of romance like passion, attraction and finally love, smoothly and with ease find their way in to the forefront of the novel.
The best part of Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark in my opinion is the ‘whodunit’ plot. The investigation, the mystery and the air of suspense were presented with clear talent for writing mysteries on Donna Lea Simpson’s part. I was kept guessing to the very end, even though I tried my hardest to figure out who the murderer is.
This book is definitely a great read for the approaching summer. It is light and very entertaining, with a healthy dose of humor (which I think is very important) and an endearing heroine, with whom I think many women can easily identify.

Favorite quote:

“One can never be more sure of sensible conversation than when one talks to oneself.”


Special Thanks to Danielle J. from Sourcebooks for providing me with a copy of this book.

Don't forget to visit Donna's blog for more news about Lady Anne and other musings.

Last note, I promise: Come back on Friday to read a short but really awesome interview with Donna.