Friday, September 12, 2014

Book review: The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall

A couple of months back, I exchanged messages with a budding author in goodreads. The messages were short, sweet, and just filled with discussions about book genres and the like. A few days into the chat, she generously offered to send me not one, but two -- TWO -- advanced reading copies of her yet-to-be-published novels in exchange for honest reviews. I tell you, I could not believe it. It's hardly something I ever thought of, let alone consider, happening to me. I was ecstatic, of course! I've read and made a review of both books since then but I promised the authoress I wouldn't publish them until release date, or her go signal.

A week ago, she asked us to post one of our reviews on goodreads, even if the book technically doesn't reach your shelves until the 29th of September. Bearing that in mind, I figured it'd be okay to share my review with my readers already.

Hope you all enjoy!

**


The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall
by Lauren Smith

SPOILER HEAVY

To defeat a dark evil, they must face his family’s past…

Bastian Carlisle, the Earl of Weymouth, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history.

Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.

Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.


Lauren Smith's The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall begins in Regency England, where Richard, the handsome Earl of Weymouth, wakes to find his weak bride out of bed during the rampage of a storm. Concerned, he checks on their month-old son, Edward, and tempers the little heir's sounds of distress. Not long after, he spies his much beloved bride standing in the cliffs near the castle, braving the weather, and in her apparent suicide. Heartbroken beyond repair at his Countess's, Isabella's, untimely passing, and confused by her reasons (or lack thereof), the Earl falls in a drunken stupor for months before succumbing to his death.

Thus so, we find ourselves at present day England following American grad student Jane Seyton. After years (6, to be exact) of horrible nightmares all regarding her fascination with the dark and imposing Stormclyffe Hall, estate of the Earls of Weymouth, and home to many paranormal-loving fans tales and urban legends, her academic life reaches its pinnacle when the current Earl of Weymouth allows her access to visit his family's haunted manor, and so allowing her to make a detailed and researched dissertation on her topic -- The tragic stories of some of Britain's ancient castles and manor houses with a particular emphasis on Stormclyffe Hall and its effect on modern day Weymouth England. His sole condition was for her to wait until renovations were completed. Jane, having estimated that 4 months is time enough, decides to brave the lion's den and heads on over to the feared hallowed walls of the castle.

Here she meets Sebastian Carlisle, Earl of Weymouth and playboy-academe extraordinaire. Having long since forgotten about his promise to the American scholar, Bastian is not thrilled to find himself having to deal with a nosy American chit hellbent on exposing his family's dark secrets and tragic pasts, on top of personally overseeing a renovation to a cold manor home with seemingly insurmountable problems (and plumbing), and managing a staff that trembles at the mere sight of their own shadow.

At wits end, he comes face to face with his great great grandmama's spitting image in his drawing room. Great. Rankled and with no good humor in the near future, he girds himself to kick the striking scholar out of his home and away from his family's private business. With a heart broken from her months-long failed engagement, the firecracker of a miss is determined to see her research through and refuses to kowtow to the arrogant Earl's demands that she leave. Sparks immediately fly between the two and both are left to wonder if it was just an immediate case of lust that threatened their just-promised co-existence or if something otherworldly permeates the air.

Without giving too much away (as well as the various plot twists!), I bow down to Lauren Smith's amazing aptitude for spinning words into tales that enchant and ensnare the reader in its trap. The chemistry between our h/h is sizzling at its lowest and scorching at its best. With none of the propriety strictures of Regency England between the two, we are instead given a realistic take on two people determined to avoid each other fall prey to their strong attraction.

Jane is no milk-and-water miss and isn't afraid to go out there, guns blazing, for what she wants. It must be the American in her. Bastian, on the other hand, is every girl's dream come true. A dark and brooding hero one moment, and a charmingly teasing rake the next, he embodies the term dreamboat. A perfect blend of what we love with the arrogance of regency england's titled peers mixed with a modern day playboy, he hits every fantasy come to life. The good, the bad (and I mean baaaaaaad), the beautiful, and the ugly. A real man with real concerns and burdens.

As the two explore the inexplicable pull they have for one another, they also explore the manor's history and secrets. It is no surprise that with so beautiful a setting, the two find themselves falling deeper and deeper in its trenches, as well as each others'. That is exactly what TSoSH does to the reader. It takes you to the edge of your seat, fingers locked in a death grip, and you feel yourself getting lost deeper and deeper in Smith's work.

A truly wonderful read, you can't help but be glad you picked up Lauren Smith's gothic romance. And like the winds whispering, calling your name, you follow gladly. And you will be all the better for it.

6 comments:

  1. Great review!!!
    The last few chapters were intense...I just loved it!!!

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    1. The Sue! I totally agree! I loved it and was at the edge of my seat! :D

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  2. Loved your review! Lauren is definitely able to grab your attention in her books. I also really loved this book. I just couldn't put it down :D

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    1. Exactly! I just needed to know what was gonna happen next!

      Love your blog, Maureen! :)

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    1. Thanks Debbie! Will check yours out and add it to a link list I'm working on! Should be up by the end of the week. :)

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