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Silk and Secrets by Linda Madl
It's 1885 and Alyssa Lockhart (age 19) has been banished from her Boston family because of some scandal she created at school, and sent to distant relatives in Cornwall, England. There's just been a death in this family, which now consists of recently widowed Lady Gwendolyn, Harris Trevell, the new Lord Penridge and nephew to the deceased, and Meggie, Gwendolyn's 10-year old daughter. Harris has been an army colonel in India for the past ten years and has taken his Indian orderly, the mysterious Tavi, with him who now is the butler. The last butler resigned together with the cook and some other servants after the former Lord Penridge, Alistair Trevell, died allegedly by food poisoning. Rumors abound that Alistair has been murdered by Harris so he could take over the title and also the beautiful widow.
There's an instant attraction between Alyssa and Harris, but dare she give in to her feelings? What if Harris truly is a murderer?

That's the setting and everything is so very unoriginal. How often has this setting served for a gothic romance? This wouldn't even matter a lot if it had been a suspenseful gothic, but the element of suspense was completely forgotten by the author. Not only wasn't there any suspense, there was no gothic atmosphere at all. It was just a clean telling of the story. No titillating hints of mysterious things to come. No drawing the readers into the story by clever use of descriptions. I'm always surprised to realize how one writer can make you feel everything the heroine feels just by using different words than another less gifted writer would use. That's the gift of storytelling, I suppose. Linda Madl can think up story, can put it to paper, but she can't make you feel the story.
So it was a rather boring read, which might deserve a 5 out of 10 for effort.


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