Vintage Gothic Romance: ALWAYS IN AUGUST by Ann Head


Publisher: Signet
Release Date: August 1974
Rating: ★★★★★


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 99¢ 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.)

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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! ♥ 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.

Reading Wrap-Up {2}

Hey! It’s time once again for Reading Wrap-Up, my “book thoughts” post for non-review books. This time around, it’s also a belated wrap-up post for the R.I.P. Reading Challenge…

JaneEyreJane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
★★★★★

One of my favorite classics. I’m always amazed at how modern Jane’s (or Charlotte’s) thinking was. Gotta love those Bronte sisters! Check out this awesome Jane Eyre magnet I found on Etsy (Warning: Spoiler alert!) – http://etsy.me/1Qtj4Cx

DarkRendezvousDark Rendezvous at Dungariff
by by Lois Stewart
★★

A Zebra Gothic published in the late 1980s. A young American librarian inherits a fortune from her long lost Scottish uncle. The catch: First she has to live a year in Scotland. Soon, bad things start happening at the ancestral castle of her kin. Unfortunately the plot and characters never grabbed me on this one. Struggled to finish.

NightSisterThe Night Sister
by Jennifer McMahon
★★★★½

I enjoyed this one very much. The creepy atmosphere and puzzling mystery kept me turning the pages! I especially loved how the story spans three time periods, the 1950s, 1980s, and present day. It was fun trying to figure out how the different parts fit together. Overall, very suspenseful, and a very unique ending. Loved it!

RebeccaRebecca
by Daphne du Maurier
★★★★★

REBECCA is just so darn good. The presence of her husband’s deceased first wife haunts the young narrator. We never learn the narrator’s name, because it didn’t matter! It was all about Rebecca. The perfect blend of mystery and suspense, and a cast of memorable characters. Daphne du Maurier was an amazing storyteller.

Reading Wrap-Up {1}

Hey, there! So, some changes are coming to my blog. Book of Secrets is at a crossroads, should I quit or do something different? I love reading and books more than ever, but writing reviews – not so much.

I’ve decided that most of the books I read will just get a super-quick mention in a “Reading Wrap-Up” post every few weeks, monthly, or longer. Books I’ve received for review will probably get a separate post, though there will probably be fewer of those in the future. I’ve been utilizing the library more and more for new releases, as opposed to requesting them from NetGalley, etc. (Though I still have plenty of NetGalley & Edelweiss books to get through!) Anyway, I hope this new system works. I’d hate to give up 5½ years of blog work!!

Without further ado, here is my reading wrap-up (for non-review books) for the past several weeks (click on the title to find on Goodreads):

WutheringHeightsNovel

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte
★★★★★

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Now that’s my kind of love story. A tad melodramatic, sure, but dang. Haunting, haunting.

 

MagicAndMacaroonsMagic and Macaroons
by Bailey Cates
★★★★½

This is book five in the Magical Bakery series, and it was just as wonderful as the previous ones. I loved meeting the infamous voodoo queens of Savannah. A strong mystery with a dash of witchy woo-woo.

 

WhereTheyFoundHerWhere They Found Her
by Kimberly McCreight
★★★★★

One of my favorites this year. It’s told from the point of view of three women, Molly, Barbara, and Sandy, who become entangled in the mysterious death of an infant. Strong characters, intriguing psychological suspense, and a fantastic ending. Loved it!

 

BonesOfYouThe Bones of You
by Debbie Howells
★★★★

This was a dark and chilling tale, partially narrated by the murder victim postmortem. Fast paced and multi-layered mystery. I enjoyed the small English village setting too.

 

JaneEmilyJane-Emily
by Patricia Clapp
★★★½

The malevolent ghost of a hateful girl haunts young Jane and her Aunt Louisa. This is a Gothic classic first published in 1969. The story is set in Massachusetts around the turn of the last century. Spooky in parts, but nothing too scary. Lots of drama, and some romance too.

 

RuinFallsRuin Falls
by Jenny Milchman
★★★★½

I swear I had a knot in my stomach the whole time I was reading this book. So suspenseful!! While on a family vacation, Liz Daniels wakes up to find her children are missing. Many layers to this mystery, and Liz is reluctant to trust anyone. Milchman’s first book was okay, while this one was great.