Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Come to Greenleaves" by Kay Richardson

Published:  1977
Setting:  Modern Day

The telephone call came two nights later, as I was getting ready for bed.


It was impossible to tell if the voice was masculine or feminine, old or young.

"Yes.  We have a poor line.  Will you speak up, please?"

"This is a friend," the voice said.  "Take this as a warning.  Get out of that house!"

"What? Who is this?"

"If you value your life, get out of that house."

There was a click, and the dial tone sounded in my ear.  My heart began to beat rapidly, and my body trembled as though I had caught a chill.  I looked about the room, and it seemed suddenly strange, unreal, like a set for a play.  Outside, a wind had come up.  A breath of icy air fanned my warm cheeks.  Somewhere a door banged.

I wen to the window.  Outside, all was darkness.  The wind scraped the guava bush against the house.  I peered through the trees in the direction of Greenleaves, but no comforting light shone through the darkness...

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Greenleaves had been the Bennet family's estate for generations, and Emily Bennett, orphaned as a child, had grown up there.  So when illness forced her to leave college, it was only natural that she return to the haven of Greenleaves to recuperate.

Beneath its peaceful surface, however, Emily found some disturbing elements.  Her semi-invalid grandfather, Adam Bennett, was more and more under the domination of officious Aunt Jessica.  And Monsieur Boullanger, who had suddenly emerged out of her grandfather's past, seemed to have some mysterious hold over the old man.  But most immediately disturbing to Emily was the discovery that Emmett Kehoe, whom she had loved since she was a child, was expected to announce his engagement to her beautiful cousin, Sylvia.

When Emily returned from a cruise, a birthday gift from her grandfather, to find the old man on his deathbed, she felt her leaving had been particularly ill-timed.  But when she discovered that her grandfather had written a new will in her absence nd that she had been disinherited in favor of her Aunt Jessica, she began to suspect that more than ill-fated coincidence had been at work on the timing of her trip.

That was just the beginning of a series of events that soon brought Emily to the terrifying realization that someone was after more than her inheritance...that every day that she remained at Greenleaves put her life in great jeopardy.

Someone Is Waiting In The Dark...

I had other thoughts on my mind besides my cousin's romance.  I was anxious to get back to the cottage.  I wanted to call Mr. Reynolds.  His coming to Greenleaves like that, during the dinner hour, and without even having telephoned first, seemed to be out of keeping with what I knew about the gentle manager of the Refuge for the Blind.  Even Minna had detected that Mr. Reynold's request to see my aunt had been an urgent one.

Halfway between the house and the cottage, I thought I heard a voice in the distance calling my name.  I stopped, and once again the sound came, barely discernible because of the wind rattling through the branches of the trees.

"Who is it?" I called.

I listened intently, but there was no answer.  The dark trees on either side of the road obscured my vision.  A nameless fear took hold of me, and I began to walk faster, Steel close behind me.

Suddenly I felt something whistle inches over my head.  A moment later the moon disappeared behind a cloud.  Panic overcame me, and I began to run, knocking blindly into the branch of a tree.   A minute later I felt the thong on my sandal break, tripping me.  I plunged forward, trying with my hands to break the fall.

Steel's barking was the first sound I heard as I struggled back to consciousness.  Next, I heard footsteps...

Were They Rescuing Her...Or Were They Kidnapping her?

"The main problem right now is to ensure your safety," Talbot continued.  "Nikki has come up with a plan.  Friends of hers own a small cottage on the Mensona River.  The friends are wintering in Arizona, and they left Nikki the key to the cottage.  You could stay there for a few days, long enough for me to come up with evidence I can take to the police."

"What a nuisance I am to you."  I sighed.

"Nikki can provide you with everything you need," Talbot said.  "Believe me, if I did not think this move necessary, I'd never suggest it."

I agreed to go with him.

Within an hours time we reached the small cottage Talbot had spoken about.  The cottage was right on the river bank.  Nikki met us at the back door.  In the small, rather shabby cottage she presented an incongruous appearance in her exotic and expensive looking hostess gown...

I wanted to like this book more, but the mystery was almost flat.   Someone is out to steal an inheritance.  It's a basic who-done-it, but with so many characters that I almost got confused just trying to keep them all in order!

If you enjoy reading gothic romance, you can give it a go.  It's not the best I've read, but not the worst either.  If your TBR list is long, pass this one up!

My Rating:
3 Stars

Monday, September 10, 2018

"Leaves on the Wind" by Yvonne Norman

Published:  1978
Setting:  Modern Day

Her feet were cold and the jacket was little protection against the freezing night.  She moved like a ghost among the rows of the garden.  Dark shapes stood out in the moonlight...trees, bushes, and beyond her, the towering bulk of the canyon wall, black against the paler darkness of the sky.  She smelled the tanginess of pot marigolds as she brushed against them, their scent undamaged by the frost.    The nubby weaves of her pants caught on a renegade rosebush too pretty to be moved even though it had stood dead center in the middle of the tomato patch.

She stooped to unsnag her pants, fumbling carefully in the dark so as not to pull the rich material.  It was then that a dark shape raced toward her out of the night, striking her in the side, forcing a startled cry.  Caught off balance, she crashed and rolled helplessly over, feeling the firm round shapes of green tomatoes beneath her and the hot breath of something as it searched her throat.

Instinctively Eden raised her arms to protect herself and her jacket caught the animal's first blows.  Somewhere through the night she heard a scream...was that her?  Suddenly another creature joined the attack.  Fritzi had rushed from somewhere to aid her mistress, and the powerful dog had size and love for Eden on her side.

Eden tried to roll out of the way but she couldn't; instead she was trapped under the padded dancing feet of the raging animals.  Again she screamed.  How could Dauphine sleep through all this?  Someone had to help her!

There were other sounds breaking through the night, but they only caught the edge of her consciousness.  She was too busy guarding her face and neck from the fight that rampaged around and over her...

Book Jacket Synopsis

Six years ago Eden Morley left her home in Montana, left the man whom she was engaged, Jared Denvers, to try her luck in the big city.  In those six years, much had happened to the lovely young woman.  She had become famous the world over as a high-fashion model, Eden, whose hazel eyes and daffodil hair looked out of countless magazines.  And she had become engaged to Wolf Beldmore, a handsome, wealthy member of the "beautiful people" who kept a pack of wolves trained to respond to his whistle.

And a year ago, Wolf died in an accident for which Eden felt responsible.  Would the rustling of autumn leaves always bring back that fateful night?  But Eden feels it is more than her imagination at work when she sees a wolf in the road, in an area supposedly free of wolves.  And then Jarred Denvers returns, confessing that he could have killed her after she jilted him.  And her housemate, Dauphine Morris, is mysteriously linked to the world of high fashion Eden inhabited.  

Eden's struggle to free herself from the past and to make a new life for herself plunges her in to a nightmare of terror.

Eerie Gothic Imagery:  

"...as she stepped out onto the porch a gust of wind pushed against her, momentarily taking her breath away.  The wind had risen suddenly, but it was always something to reckon with as it blew off the high desert and forced its way down the canyon...sometimes it was a soft whimper, sometimes a wrenching sob.  

She stood for a minute on the darkened porch, drinking in the freshness of the night.  Dried leaves blew in whirling eddies across the wide lawn and caught at her ankles as she hurried to her car.  Looking back over her shoulder, the lighted, waiting house cast white shadows on the frost-killed flowerbeds.  Cracked and lost-looking were the two stone urns that flanked either side of the porch.  In summer they had been ablaze with red petunias.  Now they were full of hard earth and withered brown skeletons..."

"...She was alone in the canyon.

The wind crawled around her.  Colder now, it rattled the drying leaves on the trees and shook the darkness.  In the distance the lonely sound of an animal called, reminding her that shew as completely alone on a friendless night..."

Was He Dead...Or Alive??

"She shook her head against the searing memory.  There had been the car accident and then, as now, she had been in terrific pain.  She could still recall the horrible scene that branded her memory.  She had lain battered and broken in the rocks, but thrown clear of the wreck.  The car with Wolf inside had turned end over end before it smashed to the bottom of the canyon and burst into orange flames, then exploded.  Nothing living could have escaped that inferno."

She didn't want to believe in anything or anyone reaching out from beyond the grave, yet she was puzzled by the almost uncanny appearances of the renegade wolf.  If a person carried the force of his personality into the afterworld, then Wolf Beldmore possessed the power to return if anyone did..."

Interesting Names of Places:  Coyote Canyon, The Iron Horseshoe, Hygrade Salooon

Gothic Elements:  Phantom wolves, dark and creepy fall nights, apparitions of the dead, secret lovers, a secretive and vindictive roommate, a dark and gloomy canyon cabin (where the heroine resides), a perilous automobile accident, attacked by wild wolves, crazy relatives seeking revenge, a girl hiding from her real identity

This is another Avalon gothic.  These little stories aren't quite as  elaborate as other, more serious, writers of the genre.  But, I find myself reaching for them more often when I just need some fun, relaxing, quick reading material.

This one isn't as formulaic as most I've read, but enjoyable just as well.  I had things figured out about a third of a way through the story, but I loved the almost-poetic descriptions of the dark, eerie fall weather, the empty canyon, the wilderness, and descriptions of the first snowfall.  The romance was innocent and clean.  The mystery piqued my interest enough to keep me reading.

Great, light read for gothic romantic enthusiasts.

My Rating:  
4 Stars