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Ironwood by Jennie Melville
Beware! Spoilers ahead!

As mentioned in an earlier book review, Jennie Melville is a pseudonym of Gwendoline Butler, author of the "Coffin" series of detective novels. Ironwood was marketed as a Novel of Romantic Suspense, but it isn't, which is probably why most readers will dislike it. It has very little suspense, and all the romance of the owner's manual for a 1972 Buick. It has most of the themes of a Gothic Romance (big old house, main character has to choose between two suitors, one of whom always turns out to be the bad guy) except for the romance. It's very, very, 1950s British (but published in 1972). Everyone has such a stiff upper lip it's a wonder that they can speak. It's not truly bad, just marketed as something it is not. It does have a cool cover, though. If you like older British mysteries (Josephine Bell, Margery Allingham, Margaret Erskine), you might actually like it.
The main character is Tatiana (Anna) Barclay, daughter of a Russian noblewoman and an English gentleman. Both her parents are dead, and she has been raised by a series of relatives and her mother's friend, now also dead. (Suitor #2 is the son of this noble lady) Even though she has plenty of money, she has been advised by her doctor (suitor #1) to turn her hobby of cooking into a business. The plot starts when one of  diners is poisoned during a dinner that Anna has prepared all of the food for. The rest of the book is a who-done-it with a bit of this-guy-or-that-guy to resemble romance. There are a lot of minor characters, and at 175 pages, there just isn't enough time to develop anyone's character or really see any of their motivations. One of them is simply not sane, for reasons explained in the climax.

As a Gothic Romance, I would give this 0/10. It's just not a romance. As a British mystery, it's about a 5/10. It's not terrible, but it's not Agatha Christie, either.

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