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Fiona by Catherine Gaskin
This book has a lot of the requirements of a gothic romance, but I missed the most important one: suspense. However, there are a lot of dangers: from the main characters, from the weather in the form of a giant hurricane and finally from a slave uprising.

It's 1833 in Scotland. The heroine, Fiona, is a governess who at 23 already has been fired from three positions because she cannot hide the fact that she has the second sight. Even though she prevented the death of one of her charges, her employers couldn't handle her gift, or curse as it's also called. Then Fiona gets the chance to travel to distant relatives who have a sugar plantation in the West Indies to take care of their 7 year old son. The family situation is explained early on and doesn't add to any kind of mystery. The mistress of the house does behave like perhaps she's having an affair, though. Both the older, illegimate son of her employer and a visiting family relative present possible love interests for Fiona.

The first half of the book was decidedly boring. I almost put it away unread, but fortunately it picked up its pace in the second half. A huge amount of text was spent on the revelation of the bad person and his/her motivation, not unworthy of Mr. Hercule Poirot himself.

I wondered why the author needed this second sight for our heroine and assume it's her way of making us curious. Victoria Holt tantalizes the reader all the time with just a few well-placed words, which is so much better. But who can equal Ms. Holt?

I've got a few other complaints. The author should have picked her names better. While reading I usually don't spell out the names all the time, just seeing its shape is enough. But having Andrew and Alister and Fiona and Flora together is confusing. Why the book was called Fiona is beyond me, as well. If she wanted to name the book after the most intriguing person, it wouldn't have been Fiona's but the name of the mistress of the house she should have picked, which unfortunately was Maria. Bummer. Maria is from a proud Spanish family and has two sisters: Katarina and Joanna. Ummm... Joanna? Shouldn't that have been Juana? No, but one of the house slaves is called Juanita.
I also came to hate the repeated use of the word "sweat" in the book. Thirtythree times it appeared. (Perspiration: five times). One morning the heroine arises early to leave her sweat-soaked bed. Gross!

The book could have used an epilogue. The ending isn't very happy and it would have been nice to learn how the heroine fared in, say, a year or ten.

My verdict, a 5 out of 10
I have personally enjoyed most Catherine Gaskin books that I have read. Try: "A Falcon for A Queen" or "Edge of Glass" or "Promises" which is particularly enjoyable.
So I've just finished reading "Promises". In its own genre I think it's quite a good book, but I was expecting a gothic and thus was thoroughly disappointed. It's just an account of a wealthy Yorkshire family coping with the times and their own personal flaws. It spans 1900 to 1929, which gives us war, emancipation, prohibition and the Wall Street crash to name a few. People conveniently die to make their widows/widowers free to embark on new relationships. "Nine coffins waiting", haha.

After now having read two books by Catherine Gaskin, who is named as an author writing gothic romances, I wonder which of her books really are gothics.
There are Gothic elements in "Promises" but I will admit not a great amount. For something more Gothic with a brooding atmosphere try "Moura" by Virginia Coffman -that is a satisfying Gothic in my opinion.

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