September 13, 2009

Review of Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson


Synopsis:  A fascinating and exasperating young lady… 

The Marquess of Darkefell has enough to worry about with a bloodthirsty wild beast rampaging the countryside and sinister family secrets to protect. Then Lady Anne Addison arrives, with unquenchable curiosity and intelligence that drive him to distraction…


An infuriatingly unyielding man…


Lady Anne finds the marquess darkly handsome, seductive, and forceful, with a ruthless magnetism that challenges and stimulates her. But he seems determined to keep secrets that may threaten both herself and her helpless friend…


Thrown together in a time of crisis, with a murderer on the loose, the marquess picks an absolutely dreadful moment and the worst possible way to declare his intentions…


(from Amazon)

"Lady Anne" was my introduction to Donna Lea Simpson and I was not disappointed.  I admit that I was attracted to the book initially due to the cover, which has just enough historical mood, darkness and a bare man's chest to spur my desire.  Reading the plot sealed the deal for me. 

How to describe "Lady Anne"?  It's gothic, in the same vein as Daphne DuMaurier and Victoria Holt.  It's historical in the same vein as Philippa Gregory.  It's a romance for the thinking and discriminating reader.  It has a taste of the paranormal that reminds me a bit of Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey".  And it has a neat little mystery to wrap up into a pleasing literary gift. 

One of the things I loved best about this book was the central character of Lady Anne Addison.  She is certainly no frail flower of the time (England of 1786), fainting and keeping to women's interests (sewing or having children).  She is more like a man of that time period - - curious, inquisitive, willful, bold and determined to remain unmarried. 

I also felt a connection with the character of Boatin, Darkefell's secretary and his story of how he came to England from Africa.  Here was a man who was well-read, if not superiorly educated, who was fiercely loyal to his employer, while still recognizing his faults, and who treated Anne as both a lady and as an equal.  In fact, I felt somewhat more of a connection with Boatin than I did with Darkefell - - although Darkefell is quite reminiscent of Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, with his perceived arrogance and hidden sensitive nature.

Another wonderful thing about this book are the luscious details of the 18th century - - the attire, the headwear, the castles and estates - - which will cause readers of historical fiction to devour this tale.  Boatin's tale, as mentioned above, is an accurate recounting of true events, giving even more depth to Ms. Simpson's story and characters.

The only downside to this book, in my own opinion, is the somewhat unresolved ending . . . which makes perfect sense if you realize "Lady Anne" is the first of a new three-part series.  The ending leaves this reader, at least, wanting more and anxious to see where Lady Anne's travels take her next and what part the mysterious and moody Darkefell will play in her life in the future.

I recommend "Lady Anne" without reservation, if you're a fan of gothic, historical, paranormal romance.

"Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark" can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Amazon or through Donna Lea Simpson's website. 

9 comments:

Sarbear said...

What a steamy cover!

ladystorm said...

It looks interesting, but I am wondering is it as steamy as the cover (I know that sometimes they have no control over the cover art)

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I can't find anything wrong with gothic, historical, paranormal romance. Thanks for letting me know about this one!

Donna Lea Simpson said...

What a great review!! Thank you so much, Lori!

A note about the book cover and the book content...

This Lady Anne, Book One in the series, is not steamy at all, Book Two is a little warmer, and Book Three is hot, on the steam meter! (*Books 2 & 3 will not be out until 2010)

Juju from Tales of Whimsy said...

Fab review :) I love the cover.

Lana said...

I really loved this one! The creepy Gothic elements were great, and best of all, the interactions between Darkefell and Lady Anne are so funny.

Plus, I really enjoyed Anne's no-nonsense attitude. You don't often see that in your Gothic stories.

Great review, I've linked to it here.

Lori said...

Isn't the cover of this book great? I am a real sucker for clever, artistic, colorful or moody covers. This one is definitely artistic and moody, IMO.

Thanks, Donna, for giving us the Steam-O-Meter. Can't wait for book 3!

Sheila Deeth said...

I've been looking forward to this one coming out. Thanks for the steam ratings :) It's a great book cover.

Sarbear said...

The cover reminds me of Laurell K. Hamilton covers -- have you seen them? Take a look.