Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Invitation to Paradise" by Lesley Howard (A Short Review)

Published:  1974
Setting:  Modern Day


I was looking for some way of escape when I heard the door open.  I was hidden around a corner, but I could tell from shadows on the wall that whoever had come in was carrying a lamp.  

There was nothing big enough to hide behind except a large sofa, and that was such an obvious place that I was growing panicky as the shadows moved around.  I thought of the painting- who would think of looking there if I could manage to get behind it?  By kneeling down I was able to squeeze in quietly.  I held my breath as I listened to someone move on the couch, then stand listening.  I watched in horror as the light got brighter on the little area of the wall I could see.  Then someone was breathing close by, and I knelt, paralyzed like a rabbit, wondering if my thundering heart would give me away.

Would they never go, I was thinking, when the painting was suddenly kicked in against me where I knelt on the floor.  I was discovered- there was nothing I could do...


Book Synopsis:

Cleo travels from her home in New York to tropical Sardinelle, a tiny island right off St. Tropez.  She's been assigned (by a prestigious author of historical novels) to explore some Roman ruins for details that are required for a book.

Yet, the expedition doesn't go quite as planned.  She finds herself being stalked by falcons, trained by barbaric 'Arabs' who are on the island operating in illegal business matters.  As she's climbing the mountain edge, she hears someone call for help and finds herself rescuing a young man from the certain death of being stranded on the side of the cliff.  He says he is certain he was chased off the cliff edge by falcons.

Mark says he came to the island in search of his sister, Olivia, who went missing while on vacation.  Mark believes Olivia has been kidnapped and is to be soon sold into human trafficking.

Cleo finds herself pulled into the dangerous world of looted treasure, kidnapping, and murder amidst the beauty of a strange paradise...but will she survive...will she find love?


This book was decent for a hot, lazy summer read.

I enjoyed the setting of paradise and the story-line of human trafficking as you don't see many romance mysteries with such dire social issues (particularly in the vintage gothics).

I know the book was written in the early 70's, but I couldn't help but feel it was a bit racist in the light that it displayed Arab people.  But back then, I suppose even the topic of human trafficking was probably taboo...so was the author brave, or just stupid?

There were a few scary moments, all in all the book was just a series of odd events all strung together.

The most gothic elements included:  a dagger being found under a pillow, someone being entrapped in the caves of a ruined Roman temple, the main character was locked inside a brick shack and left to dig her way out or die, an overtly sweet housekeeper, a cat was crucified against someone's window panes (a bit gory for me!), kidnapping, murder, smuggled Egyptian treasures.

The characters were not fleshed out well.  And I had trouble finding an emotional attachment to the main character.

If you like vintage gothics, I'm sure you'd enjoy it.  



My Rating:

3 Stars


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