Setting: Modern Day
I heard voices...
"As for Sally, I agree, she must not leave here alive...let us give her the remaining days of her vacation..."
The remaining days- I went back outside, really running like the wind now, trying to think of something, anything, to save myself. In the courtyard, I ran to the heavy outer gates and tried to jerk them open; if only I could, I might make it to get in my old car and race down the foothills. But they were locked tight. Not only that, my old car was nowhere in sight. There seemed to be no way out for me; I'd be given a few days' grace, then I'd end up on one of those chests in Delores' memorial room, on my way to be buried where no one would ever find me...
I went back across the deep-shadowed poriales, because poor as its refuge was, I must make it back to my bedroom, if just to keep warm. Wintry chill was in the night air now; and, aside from that, I dared not be caught outside...
A Dying Man's Warning
A body was lying beside the road up ahead on my left! As I slowed and reached the spot, I saw it was a white-haired old man who looked as if he'd been struck by a hit-and-run driver.
He wasn't dead but he was dying. As I stopped and hurried over to him, I found that though he was terribly battered, a faint pulse still beat in the thin wrist. Stunned, I glared down at his Roman collar. The dying man was a priest. What in heavens name had happened to him? Why had he been on this lonely mountain road on foot? A hoarse whisper broke into my thoughts, "Who...are...you?"
"I am a nurse, father," I reassured him.
"I'm dying...you must do what I tell you...Montera Hacienda...Dona Isabella ...grandsons...Danger...more murders....go quickly...speak to no one else...go...tell...."
"Tell what?" My question came, harsh from frustration.
The old man's lips shaped more words, but the whispering this time was too faint. The pulse stilled now forever. The old priest was dead; beyond questioning, beyond hurt.
Setting: A dreary Spanish mansion by the name of Montera Hacienda, with it's locked gates, a rambling estate, a farm, and the many rude, secretive servants.
Plot: Sally, a responsible nurse who has no close relatives to speak of, has decided to take a weeks' vacation after being jilted by her fiance. As she ventures into treacherous mountain roads, she happens upon a dead man who gives her a dire message. Unable to ignore the plea of a dying priest, she embarks upon a destination to a rambling Hacienda to relay the message. Gullible Sally is unaware she's just walked into a dangerous operation...one for which no witnesses are desired. And little does she know, her vacation is about to turn into a nightmare as she becomes prisoner in a strange land to evil people who wish her only ill-will.
Gothic Elements: tarot cards, fortune telling, a shrine made to a dead woman, ghosts in a huge rambling Spanish Hacienda, a family who sticks to outdated traditions, an insane elderly lady, stolen treasures and jewels, an illegal operation, murder, secretive housekeepers, a rude elderly gardener, a broken romance, deceit and lies, treacherous secrets, a main character being held prisoner (locked gates, hidden car, hidden telephone and tv, etc), an evil motorcycle gang
Romance: There was no real romance throughout the book. Though toward the end, the main character is rescued by a childhood friend whom she briefly visited upon venturing into town, before her whole nightmare began. They briefly discuss moving in together at the end of the story.
This is one of the better vintage gothic romances that I've read as of late. This story was gripping from the first few pages. The characters and the Hacienda are so bizarre that you can't help but keep reading the story. The main character is so gullible that had she been real, I would really have been tempted to slap her! She doesn't notice how perilous her situation until it's almost too late. However, that only adds to the sense of suspense and danger. Awesomely detailed, page-turning. Absolute recommend to those who enjoy vintage gothic romance/vintage gothic horror!