Ace Cameo Gothic Series

Ace are a well known publisher for Gothic Romance who, in the 1970’s, produced their Cameo Gothic series – the titles chosen for their excellence and optimum readability, while promoting and developing lesser known writers. Here’s numbers one to six.

No 1 The Golden Fig

When Paul Stembridge came looking for his missing brother Geoffrey, Susan Lord could not know he had brought a family curse with him. Susan fell in love with Paul, married him, and in her happiness, all thoughts of Geoffrey were forgotten.

But soon a subtle change came over Paul. gradually Susan realised that he wanted her for one purpose only – to help him break the curse.

What had become of the missing Geoffrey? If the curse had taken him, then Susan, too, was in danger. Captive of a family plagued by violence, Susan faced a legacy of evil that spanned more than a century.

She had to learn the secret of the Stembridge curse – or die a victim of it.

Written by Nancy Taylor Smith. First Ace printing August 1974.

fearamongtheshadows

No 2 Fear Among the Shadows

“Because he saved your life you refuse to believe he could take someone else’s…”

Julie Wescott knew that Greg could not have killed his wife; he was with her the night his wife was murdered. But the dead woman’s brother was convinced that Greg was responsible….. and suddenly Julie realized that she didn’t really know the handsome, charming man she loved at all.

In love with Greg, but drawn to David, Julie knew that one man was telling the truth – and the other was trapping her in a maze of deception and greed where death was the only exit…..

Which one could she trust?

Written by Louise Hoffman. First Ace printing September 1974.

No 3 Shadow of a Cat

Like Mother – Like Daughter

It was to have been her mother’s fourth marriage, and Sunny wouldn’t have even bothered coming to Revelstoke Castle if the invitation hadn’t sounded so…desperate. Now her mother was dead, and the women of Revelstoke, who had hated her, had the handsome bridegroom – widower to themselves once again.

But Sunny knew her mother’s horrible death had been no accident – someone had hated enough to kill. And now the threatening notes had her name on them…

LEAVE OR DIE

But she couldn’t leave…..

Written by Poppy Nottingham. First Ace printing October 1974.


No 4 The Stones of Strendleigh

Was Strendleigh Hall a gracious refuge offering shelter and comfort – or an elegant deathtrap waiting to destroy the unsuspecting.

It was a set of tragic circumstances that brought Rose to Strendleigh… or perhaps it was fate, for she came to love the English manor and the inhabitants who treated her so kindly.

But soon Rose learned that her ties to Strendleigh were closer than that of grateful houseguest. And the closer she got to the truth, the more obvious it became that one of the two handsome Stone brothers vying for her hand in marriage was really trying to rid the hall of its guest…permanently.

Love thwarted by greed was Strendleigh’s evil past, and now it fell to a terrified young girl to avenge that lost love – or die a victim of it…….

Written by Geraldine Killoran. First Ace printing November 1974.

No 5 Yesterday’s Evil

When Stacey Cameron returned to Lakewood to find that she and Steve Winter were still in love, nothing, it seemed, could stand in the way of their happiness. But Steve’s former wife had died in a suspicious fire and soon Stacey, too, fell victim to one strange accident after another.

Who among Stacey’s old friends wished her ill? Tess Arnold seethed with rage when Marty, her boyfriend, so obviously preferred Stacey to her. And what about Marty? Generous to a fault, did his friendship hide a secret grudge? Between the warring adults stood Steve’s stepdaughter, Laurel. A strange, precocious girl, Laurel took pleasure in stirring up trouble for Stacey. Concealed in the past was the key to Stacey’s future. Could she unlock the door to Lakewood’s secrets before she became a victim of YESTERDAY’S EVIL?

Written by Lydia Benson Clark. First Ace printing December 1974.

No 6 Flames Over the Castle

Lovely Tallent Boardman came to the Casa del Sol to work as Paul Rowan’s law assistant – and escape the agonising memories of a lost love. But nobody really wanted Tallent at the Casa; not her handsome, brooding employer who had never expected a woman; not his beautiful sister-in-law; not his crippled bitter nephew, Jeffrey.

Determined to succeed, Tallent quickly gained Paul Rowan’s admiration and the beginning of his affections – until she learned that her love placed her very much in someone’s way…

High in the isolated San Francisco hills, someone engineered little incidents to discredit her, to scare her and send her packing. Then the terrible truth was laid bare and she couldn’t be allowed to leave – not ever…

Written by Diane La Point. First Ace printing January 1975.

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Reviews

Some quick links to reviews I’ve done on this blog for some of these titles:

The Golden Fig is reviewed Here.

Fear Among the Shadows is reviewed Here.

The Stones of Strendleigh is reviewed Here.

This Old Evil House s reviewed Here.

 

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Ace Cameo Gothic Series Part 3

More murder, madness and romance brought to you courtesy of  Ace Cameo Gothic series. Here are numbers 7 to 12…

No 7 Tapestry of Terror

Anne Redford had been looking forward to spending a pleasant few weeks at her college roommate’s home. But Cecilia’s grandfather died unexpectedly, and the house was plunged into gloom.

Could John Blake’s death had been unnatural? Cecilia shared her home with several relatives – all of whom had a stake in her grandfather’s will. When the family maid who knew too much was found dead, it seemed Blakesville sheltered a murderer.

With mounting horror, Anne suspected that the man she had come to love was plannng to make Cecilia the next victim. Torn between friendship and love, Anne found herself snared in the tangled passions of a TAPESTRY OF TERROR.

Written by Marianne Ruuth. First Ace printing February 1975.


No 8 Without a Grave

She had promised…

..to go to Moreau House, and only by fulfilling her husband’s deathbed wish could the lovely young widow lay his memory to rest forever and begin anew.

It was to be a brief visit. However, Alisa Moreau found that the inhabitants of the house by the sea needed her desperately – and she gave herself willingly to the child strangely frightened of her own mother; the beautiful woman who shrank from the truth; and Marcus, whose terrible secret burden drove him to reject Alisa’s love.

Only when t was too late did Alisa realize that they had unwittingly trapped her…that a twisted love made blind to evil had claimed her for its prisoner……..

Written by Poppy Nottingham. First Ace printing February 1975.

No 9 The Devil’s Due

The Blackwoods were a noble family, steeped in the glory and infamy that was England’s history – marred only by the memory of Sir Robert the Damned. Some said he was the child of the devil, still able to reach across the centuries to wreak havoc….

Although Maura came to the Vicarage at her cousin Annette’s request, her reception was less than cordial. Aunt Harriet, tradition bound matriarch of the Blackwood family, had never forgiven Maura’s mother for leaving her. But Maura was determined to remain – until she learned the real reason for her cousins invitation.

Annette was sure her life was in danger – that her handsome, taciturn husband, Drake, wanted her dead.

And then Annette disappeared, and Maura found herself in love with the man who might have killed her…

Written by Lanora Miller. First Ace printing March 1975.

No 10 Fire on the Cliffs

The wild, sun-drenched beauty of Greece was balm to a tortured soul, and Elizabeth Holland understood why her sister Jessica had made the country her home. She, too, had hoped to find happiness here. But the ancient gods were angered, and as the sun beat evilly and beauty turned savage, a woman fell from the cliffs at Delphi.

The official verdict was suicide, but Elizabeth had seen a man push the woman to her death. Suddenly it was vital to make them believe her, for she had reason to suspect that the man her sister was to marry – handsome, rich Ted Samos – was the murderer.

Nobody listened – not Jessica, not Ted’s attractive brother Alex. And just when Elizabeth was beginning to question her sanity, she realised that someone in the magnificent Samos mansion did believe her  – for a murderer was ready to kill again…

Written by Chris Waynar. First Ace printing April 1975.

No 11 Rievaulx Abbey

Letisha Harraton was dead. She had willed Rievaulx House and her fortune to her grandniece, Jane Warren – who had never heard of Letisha Harraton…

In fact, Letisha Harraton was very much alive – as Jane discovered when she arrived at Rievaulx House in the wilds of Yorkshire. The inheritance was a mistake – a cruel, puzzling joke.

Jane turned to inspector Charles Thomason for help, for suddenly the master jester was death itself haunting the frightened girl’s footsteps – making her doubt the man she loved – her sanity – herself.

In the mysterious, mist-ridden ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, when Jane’s worst nightmare became reality, the evil hoax would stand revealed….

Written by Norma Davison. First Ace printing May 1975

No 12 Picture of Death

It had been eight years since Charles Huron’s wife mysteriously drowned – eight years that his lovely daughter Wendy had not spoken a word. …

Jessica Brandt had simply agreed to be Wendy’s companion for that summer; she was unprepared for the bond that developed between the tragic, withdrawn young girl and herself – or her growing attraction to her sophisticated employer – or the magnetic appeal of the handsome, antisocial artist who lived down the beach.

But nobody would tell Jessica what had really happened the night Wendy’s mother died. Convinced that the events of that night were the key that would unlock the young girl’s soul, Jessica was determined to learn the truth. And someone was equally determined to prevent her from doing so – if necessary, with murder…

Written by Diane LaPoint. First Ace printing June 1975.

 

 

 

Ace Cameo Gothic Series Part 2

Welcome back to the wonderful world of gothic mansions, bizarre accidents, handsome strangers and haunted heroines in this the second posting of my collection from the Ace Cameo Gothic Series.  Here’s numbers 13 – 18.

No 13 The Castle on the River

It was four years since Aurora had fled the huge, ugly castle on the Hudson; four years since she had seen the man who had not been able to choose between his disapproving family and his wife.

But Aurora had returned… Having never stopped loving Eric von Leyden, who now lay paralyzed in his bed after a near-fatal plane crash, the beautiful, spirited woman was once again prepared to face the hostility of the haughty Von Leydens.

It was with disbelief, then mounting horror that Aurora realized that resentment had turned to murderous hatred – that someone in the monstrous, isolated castle plotted to turn love rekindled into death eternal……

Written by Janice N. Bennett. First Ace printing June 1975.

No 14 To Dream of Evil

Lynne Crawford had loved Mark since they were children, and her joy at their marriage was marred only by her belief that she was not his first choice.

But they were happy at Trelawne House – until the night Aunt Laura mysteriously died, and, incredibly, the young bride found herself under suspicion… When Mark’s beautiful ex-fiancée returned to reclaim the man she had lost, Lynne knew she could no longer count on her husband’s love to protect her from the hostility threatening her very sanity.

With her world crumbling around her, the heartbroken girl played right into the hands of a murderer…….

Written by Louise Hoffman. First Ace printing July 1975. (Original title – The Impossible Dream). Cover by Charles Copeland.

No 15 Darkness at Bromley Hall

Ellie Harris had never met her granduncle Edward before, but when he offered her a job in Barbados, as his secretary, Ellie eagerly accepted.

But something was very wrong at Bromley. Sir Edward had disappeared, David Douglas, the handsome manager of Bromley, told her, and he had reason to suspect Peter Tyrrell, a neighboring plantation owner, had killed him.

Anxious to learn her uncle’s fate, Ellie was determined to stay at Bromley, despite the series of bizarre accidents that nearly claimed her life. Was Peter Tyrrell behind the attempts, as David claimed? Ellie had fallen in love with David and desperately wanted to trust him – until she learned that he too might want her dead. Torn between love and suspicion, it was up to Ellie to pierce the DARKNESS AT BROMLEY HALL.

Written by Marybeth Morgan. Copyright Peter Ronai. First Ace printing July 1975.

No 16 This Old Evil House

Ruth Ames could hardly believe her good fortune when she and her husband Charles found a house that they could afford. But the turquoise colour was not the only strange thing about the new house. For soon after they moved in, Ruth knew that evil had happened there. Was there any truth to the frightening stories her neighbors told – stories about the torture that was a grisly part of the house’s past and the murder that had taken place nearby?

At first Ruth tried to ignore their warnings, until one day she felt the icy fingers of fear, and the death that had haunted her home was no longer a chilling tale, but a horror filled reality…..

Written by Laura Frances Brooks. First Ace Printing August 1975.

No 17 Findlay’s Landing

Kristina Mallory had never met her husband’s family. Banished from his home as a young man, Greg had her simply he would never return to Findlay’s landing. But now Greg was dead – and his widow had been invited there to stay.

Anxious to understand the man she had lost, Kristi was puzzled when Greg’s family refused to discuss his past – until she realized that everyone at Findlay’s Landing had something to hide. What had driven Greg from his home so many years ago? Kristi turned to Greg’s stepbrother Jason. gentle, concerned, he had seemed willing to help, until Kristi learned that he too, had lied.

Trapped in a conspiracy of silence, it was almost too late when Kristi learned the price of truth was death…..

Written by Margaret Chittenden. First Ace printing September 1975.

No 18 Bright Sun, Dark Moon

(This scan taken from the web as my own copy is too tattered and torn, even for this blog!).

THREE MEN LOVED CARA STEVENS.

Her handsome, arrogant husband Garth, who had coerced her into marriage.

Evers, the younger brother, who had recently become a man;

Their cousin, Calhoun, charming and passionate, who led a secret life.

But not one of them could protect her from the insidious evil that followed her everywhere – stalking her for reasons unknown – waiting for the right moment for murder…

Written by Frances Patton Statham. First Ace printing September 1975.

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Cover Art

Look closely at the cover of No 15 Darkness at Bromley Hall and you will notice this is one of the few covers that is actually signed by the artist. The name is Walter Popp. A comic artist in the 1940’s he became a respected romance and gothic cover artist in his later years. To look at more of his work, click here.

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Book Inserts

One thing that was common to many of these editions published in the 70’s were the cigarette advertisements inserted into them. They are positioned to the middle of the book and presented as a full glossy page of glorious Technicolour temptation.

And check out that handsome hunk of hello there, Mr True.  He’s not even bothered to put on his shoes! I actually quite like the  chequered golfing look, but pea green socks? Yuk!

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Ace Cameo Gothic Series Part 1

Thought I’d share these over the next few posts. I have twenty four of these titles published in the 1970’s by Ace books, though I believe there were at least 26 titles in total. Ace are a well known publisher for Gothic Romance and according to the blurb on the back cover, the titles in the Cameo Gothic series were chosen for their excellence and optimum readability, while promoting and developing lesser known writers.

The Ace Cameo series tended to shy away from the more supernatural elements found in a lot of gothic fiction and all basically tell the same story – nice young girl finds a nice young man and / or comes into some money but  someone is out to kill her.  Will she / won’t she survive? Of course she will! But for all the predictable endings, on the most part these books were well written and featured some cracking settings and plot lines. And I for one could never resist the fantastic cover art.

I’m posting in reverse order so here’s numbers 19 to 24.

No. 19 Web of Days

When Jennifer MacKay, known to her friends as Mac, received her promotion, she was unwillingly drawn into her boss’s family life. But nothing could have prepared Mac for the passions that seethed within Bennett Mann’s home – passions that found their focus in his wife, Thea. Both of Ben’s children hated their stepmother; Jenny, a neurotic young girl starved for affection, and Jeffrey, handsome, cold and enigmatic, who despised his weak willed father.

Then one day, Thea Mann was murdered. Each of the tormented family members suspected the other, but only Mac knew Jeffrey had lied to the police. Trapped in a tightening web of horror, Mac was determined to learn the truth – for in spite of herself, she loved Jeffrey Mann, and refused to believe he was a murderer.

Written by Helen Orr. First Ace Printing October 1975

No 20 Girl in the Shadows

Although she recovered from the near fatal accident, the beautiful young woman could remember nothing. It was from her personal effects she learned her name was Janet, and that she was the widow of the wealthy Larry Kirby. Her baby was his son, entitled to a vast inheritance.

But the past was not to be unlocked so easily. Larry’s brother Bruce was determined to prove Janet a fortune-hunting imposer (sic). And the confused young mother, not at all sure she was really Janet Kirby, was powerless to stop him.

No one was prepared for the terrible truth that emerged; an evil hoax that sent the past spinning into the present to cast a sinister shadow on the future.

Written by Zoa Sherburne. First Ace printing November 1975.

No 21 Masquerade of Evil

Left homeless and alone, Sarah York went South to Cameron Oaks, the civil war-wrecked plantation of her cousin. She withstood unexplainable hostility on her arrival, only to be totally humiliated to find herself nothing more than a servant.

With little hope of ever finding happiness here, Sarah turned her attentions more and more to Jaime, her young blind charge. And against her will, her heart turned more and more to the child’s father. Who was this man Adam, who could be so cruel and unfeeling toward his helpless son, yet so kind and attentive to her? And were the dreadful rumours true? Did he set the fire that killed his wife and left his son a cripple? Was he capable of anything for the sake of his precious pride? The questions rose from her confusion, and settled her into despair.

When she could no longer deny her love, a mad charade of twisted passions began, and Sarah found herself lulled by the player’s charm into a trap from which death was the only escape…..

Written by Eva Zumwalt. First Ace printing December 1975.

No 22 Buried Remembrance

Allyn Bourke came to Sheldon’s Crossing to forget a tragedy that haunted her nights, and made sad shadows of her days. But before one scar could heal, tragedy struck again… and again… and again.

There was her friend Nina, one minute laughing gaily, now dead. There was kind Dirk Cameron, now dead – from a letter bomb addressed to her. There was Miss Fleishmann, her spinster employer, alive and healthy while she argued with Allyn; dead when they became friends. There was the cat, frisky until he drank the soup in Allyn’s cup; now dead. Only her obese landlady, Mrs Johnson seemed to be surviving. And Steven Donner;  Steven, who threatend to splinter Allyn’s wall of emotional isolation.

Steven and Mrs Johnson – one of them would not rest until Allyn was as dead as the others. If only she could fathom the reason for this relentless pursuit… if only she could discover which one was the murderer – in time!

Written by Naomi Gladish Smith. First Ace printing January 1976.

No 23 Willough Haven

Willough Haven Ranch represented wealth, beauty, security and love. It was her second home, and the Willough boys were her closest friends. When Diane French became a woman, it seemed only right that she also became Mrs Fred Willough.

But Fate is cruel, and it was through Fred’s tragic death that Diane inherited the ranch she had always loved – and became the target of a madman who wanted it at any cost. Someone had murdered twice already.  Someone Diane called brother, friend – or mother – was trying to kill her……

Written by Geraldine Killoran. First Ace printing February 1976.


No 24 The Unforgiven

Evil happened…

In a picture-book pretty English village – and it destroyed Eve Shannon’s brother. When Eve journeyed to Baldenstock, however, her veiled questions were met with hostility – and worse….

It was from newspaper clippings Eve learned that her brother had left his mark on the tiny village – the terrible mark of murder!

But she didn’t believe it – and with her disbelief she knew real fear… Alone, her identity a secret even from the man she loved, Eve set out to discover what really happened one horrible night not so very long ago…..

Written by Maynah Lewis. First Ace printing March 1976.

Also in this series:

No 25 Winterscape by Anastasia Cleaver. First Ace printing April 1976.

No 26 Deathbed of Roses by Michaeljohn. Or rather this is what is listed in the back of my other Cameo Gothics – however on searching the web I found this cover scan. Though this title does not seem to be numbered, I’m wondering if Deborah Scott is actually the correct author.

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