Vintage Gothic Romance: GHOSTWIND by Rachel Ann Payne


Publisher: Paperback Library
Release Date: November 1966

“A madman stalks Jane Corby at sinister Hampton Hill.”

Oh, Jane Corby! Just ever so slightly too dumb to live. It’s 1867, and Jane, a young New York City librarian, is hired to catalog the extensive library at Hampton Hill, a mansion in a remote area near Syracuse. Locals aren’t too keen on the house’s new owner, the reclusive Captain Ralf Hampton. Something is off about him, his fickle personality, and his entire situation, but Jane can’t help falling in love.

“You just be sure he’s not a wicked man with a key to your door.”

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I did not understand Jane’s insta-love for Ralf, considering she felt threatened by his abusive temperament much of the time. By the second half, the pacing picked up as Jane set out to uncover the mysteries of Hampton Hill and the creepy family vault in the cemetery. I enjoyed the twists and a bit of Civil War history woven into the story, plus, how wonderful that Jane is a librarian. Rating: Good.

GHOSTWIND was originally published in 1966 by Paperback Library. Rachel Ann Payne is a pen name used by John Jakes. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Vintage Domestic Suspense: DO EVIL IN RETURN by Margaret Millar


Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: 1974 (first published 1950)

Very good! DO EVIL IN RETURN is a mystery/domestic suspense novel first published in 1950. It was considered controversial at the time because the victim in this case is a young woman seeking an abortion (which would be illegal for another two decades in the United States).

Protagonist Dr. Charlotte Keating is torn β€” she wants to help Violet but doesn’t want to break the law. Violet runs away in frustration, but later Charlotte tries to track her down to see if there’s some way to improve her circumstances. Unfortunately it’s too late for Violet, and Charlotte’s interference puts her career and safety in jeopardy.

The mystery was twisty and surprising. I thought I had it figured out, but no! Some of the language and attitudes are dated, of course, but I thought that Charlotte was a compelling heroine. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

πŸ“š Find DO EVIL IN RETURN on GoodreadsΒ πŸ“š

Vintage Gothic Romance: ALWAYS IN AUGUST by Ann Head


Publisher: Signet
Release Date: August 1974
Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…


PASSION AND HATE,
JEALOUSY AND VENGEANCE,
WERE HIDDEN BEHIND THE GREAT WALLED ESTATE OF MENLO…

It was August again, and Gloria was returning to Menlo. Gloria, with her stunning beauty and vast wealth, who hungered for everything that belonged to Lucy – even Lucy’s husband. Lucy could only wait in dread of what menace Gloria would unleash in this place of haunting beauty and mounting terror – of what evil she would bring to Lucy’s life and to the man Lucy loved and knew she could not hold.


“It was August again. And as always in August tempers are frayed, nerve ends laid bare by the heat.”

ALWAYS IN AUGUST is a Gothic Romance originally published in 1961. The story seems to take place around the time it was written, probably late 1950s, in the small coastal town of Royal Bay, South Carolina.

Lucy and Gloria were childhood friends, for a while. Gloria grew into a fiery and gorgeous young woman, while Lucy, though lovely, was level-headed and down to earth. Lucy had also been lifelong friends with the heir to Menlo Estate, a boy named Stark.

It was thought by all that Lucy and Stark would marry, until ruthless Gloria set her sights on him, and she always got what she wanted, especially if it was Lucy’s first. After tragedy strikes and Gloria flees Royal Bay, Lucy falls in love with another.

“The bad things always happen in August. Whatever potential evil sleeps here, beneath the easy, gentle surface of our days, is nourished, brought to fruit in the heavy, fetid August air.”

So, in August, years later, Gloria returns to Menlo, this time with the intention of stealing Lucy’s husband. But Lucy knows the tragic secrets hidden within the grand estate, and she’s not giving up without a fight.

I loved this book. The characters were well-crafted and memorable. Gloria was the perfect devious villain, while Lucy was easy to empathize with. You may or may not agree with her decisions, but I believe she did what she thought was best. The blurb makes the book sound so scary (menace! terror! evil!), but in reality ALWAYS IN AUGUST is a dramatic & gripping domestic suspense.

I read the 99Β’ Kindle edition, which unfortunately is full of typos. I’m going to keep an eye out for an old paperback copy to add to my collection. (And, yay! I finished this review on the last day of August.)

β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Vintage Gothic Suspense: THE SHADOW GUEST by Hillary Waugh

The Shadow Guest
The Shadow Guest by Hillary Waugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE SHADOW GUEST is a fantastic mystery/suspense novel from the vintage Gothic fiction genre. An American couple, Howard and Angela, move to a cottage on the coast of England after her breakdown.

Howard is hesitant to be so secluded with their medical issues, but some strange force compels Angela to stay at Heather Cottage. Even with unexplained happenings at night – frightening noises, shadowy figures, and bizarre dreams – Angela refuses to leave. Is there something supernatural afoot? Or does someone want them gone?

I enjoyed this creepy book very much. The author created the perfect atmosphere of sinister suspense. Best of all I had absolutely no clue what the ending would bring. So twisted! β™₯ My copy of THE SHADOW GUEST was published by Dell in July 1972.

Vintage Gothic Romance: THE MISTS OF MOURNING by Suzanne Somers

Mists of Mourning
THE MISTS OF MOURNING by Suzanne Somers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in New York City and New Orleans, 1878. Young bride Anita travels from New York to New Orleans to join her husband, Thad, at his plantation home called Moline. Unfortunately, when she gets there, he’s dead. Was it an accident? Foul play?

No one in Thad’s family or social circle is happy with his new Yankee wife inheriting everything, so much so that someone clearly wants her dead. Anita must decide if it’s worth risking her life to take over Moline, or should she hightail it back north before it’s too late.

I enjoyed this book. Anita was a strong heroine with a good head on her shoulders. Moline was a creepy place filled with several possible culprits. I especially loved that Moline was in the bayous of New Orleans, a perfect Gothic setting. Suspenseful, well-constructed mystery.

Note: According to Fantastic Fiction, Suzanne Somers is a pseudonym used by Dorothy Daniels.