Gothic Romance Lending Library

She came to a place of mist and menace – where even kisses tasted of terror… Haunted by a love that could not die but now could kill… Mystery lured her to the old castle, Death would show her the way out…

Foreboding mansions, misty moonlight and the moaning wind… There’s not much better than a night in with your favourite gothic romance is there? Well, imagine having a whole library full of them at your fingertips, delivered right to your door, without any of the hassle of having to find that precious extra shelf space!

Sounds like one of my favourite fantasies, but for those of you living in the good ol’ U.S.of A, this dream is a reality. Kristi Lyn Glass, founder of The Gothic Journal, has sent me some great news regarding the Gothic Romance Lending Library – it has now been re-housed and is looking bigger and better than ever.

Gothic Heaven!

Started in August 1996, the Gothic Romance Lending Library (GRLL) is a not for profit service that now contains over 3,400 volumes. That’s right, 3,400 gothics! I’m lucky (or insane) enough to own a few hundred of these books and the thought of owning a whole library full of them sounds like heaven. Even better, you can order up to eight books at one time and can keep them for approximately three months.

Kristi Lyn Glass is the founder of the Gothic Journal, which she started in 1991. The magazine’s purpose was to connect readers with gothic romance novels and their authors and publishers during a period in which publishers were disguising these books as titles in a variety of other genres.

Throughout the 90’s the Gothic Journal was the news and review magazine for readers, writers, and publishers of romantic suspense, romantic mystery, and gothic, supernatural, and woman-in-jeopardy romance novels. Though the final issue was published October / November 1998 the journal has an online presence, with a recently updated website, and continues to remain a great resource for anyone interested in gothic romance. Back issues of the Journal can also be ordered from here.

So for more information, just follow the links below:

Gothic Romance Lending Library

Gothic Journal Newsletter

Kristi is looking for others who share her passion to sign up as ambassadors and spread the word about the library, journal and all things gloriously gothic romantic. Just visit the link above and add your name to the list! And THANK YOU Kristi for all your suspenseful endeavours in keeping the Gothic Romance genre flag flying! Fans like me really appreciate it!

The Dark Shore

Did the ghost of evil still hover over Clougy House?

Soon after Sarah Hamilton stepped into her new home as the bride of charming, enigmatic Jon Towers, a cold shock of instinct warned her to run for her life – too many ‘accidents’ were beginning to plague her.

Clougy had seen violence when Sophia, Jon’s first wife, mysteriously fell to her death from a cliff. Now someone was trying to kill Sarah, to keep a ghastly secret.

Was it Jon’s beautiful, tormented cousin, Marijohn who had sought refuge in a convent after Sophia died? Or his son Justin who was out on the cliff the night his mother fell? Or his old friend Max, who seemed to be confusing the two Mrs Towers?

Or was it Jon himself, panicking because Sarah was getting too close to what really happened that terrible night…?

THE DARK SHORE is filled with the ingredients that made a bestseller out of Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Written by Susan Howatch. Copyright 1965 Ace Books.

A story with echoes of Rebecca, based on the love triangle between a rich, successful man with a past, his newly wed, innocent bride and the spectre of his first, much sexier wife – who may or may not have been murdered by him.

Jon Towers, a Canadian property millionaire, has returned to Britain to patch things up with his son Justin. Recently married to Sarah, he has not set foot in the UK since the untimely death of his first wife Sophia, who fell (or rather was pushed) over a cliff at their Cornwall Home, Clougy, some ten years ago.

Told from multiple viewpoints, the first part of Dark Shore brings together the same six characters who were present at Clougy that fateful weekend Sophia died. Each has a secret and a reason for wanting her dead. One by one they are reunited at the same isolated farmhouse where Sophia was killed – much to the increasing alarm of Jon’s new wife Sarah. She is already feeling trapped under the shadow cast by the violent death of her husband’s first wife and the more she learns about what happened to Sophia, the more she fears she could be heading for the same fate. But why would anyone want to kill her?

For a short book, Dark Shore packs in a fair amount of gothic suspense, with hidden motives, dark secrets and all sorts of skeletons falling out all kinds of closets (though not literally unfortunately). I particularly liked the mysterious relationship between Jon and his ‘cousin’  – the beautiful telepath Marijohn.

Susan Howatch has enjoyed considerable success with her gothics. She began writing from an early age and submitting work for publication as a teenager. The Dark Shore is her first novel, published when she was in her mid- twenties. I have quite a few of her books and I think her writing works best in the longer novels, where she has room to explore the development of her characters and the impact of their actions on those around them. The Dark Shore is a cracking first novel but, like many gothics written during this period, the ‘shocking’ secret when revealed isn’t all that scandalous to the modern reader, so the drama built up in the first part of the book fizzles out with a bit of whimper towards the end.

On the plus side, Susan Howatch isn’t afraid to explore the darker side of her character’s natures and she achieves a high degree of depth and complexity within this concise and well-paced murder mystery. Three out of five stars.

Related articles

  • Rebecca (hauntedhearts.wordpress.com)

The Vampyre of Moura

A TIMELESS EVIL WILL NOT REST UNTIL ANNE WICKLOW AND ALL SHE LOVES ARE DESTROYED.

When Anne Wicklow returns to Moura, the home she had shared with her late husband, it is as housekeeper for the mysterious Maitre Stavko and his daughter, Tyra. They have turned Moura into an academy for young ladies, girls innocent of the strange and terrifying events going on about them.

Despite her constant battle with the memory of her love, Anne soon realizes what the school girls do not: that Moura is pervaded by an evil so powerful, so dedicated to destruction that survival seems impossible. At the heart of this terror Anne suspects Stavko, a man she is drawn to and repulsed by; a man she fears and yet is intrigued by. And she knows she must decide which feelings are right… or risk being claimed by the deadly danger which relentlessly pursues her.

A spellbinding story of romantic suspense in the thrilling MOURA series.

An Ace Book. Copyright 1970 by Virginia Coffman.

Born 1914 in San Francisco, Virginia Coffman worked as a secretary in fan mail and publicity departments for a variety of Hollywood studios during the 40’s and 50’s before becoming a full time writer in 1965.

Her first novel, Moura, was published in 1959 and features Ann Wicklow, a feisty Irish housekeeper at a girls school who journeys to France to see what has become of one of the former students. Her destination is Chateau Moura – an isolated, wolf infested estate run by the tall, dark and brooding Master Edmond.  

On arriving at Moura, Anne soon finds herself immersed within a nightmarish adventure where all sorts of spookiness threatens to drive her to the brink of madness and beyond. Thankfully she’s tough enough to solve the curse of the Combing Lady and though there is a certain Radcliffean rationality behind all the ghostliness, the back-story is chilling enough not to leave you disappointed.

 In The Vampire of Moura we revisit the creepy mansion, now owned by the mysterious Maitre Stavko. He has converted Moura’s ruinous rooms and dark cellars into an Academy for Young Females of Quality. And not only are these young ladies rich, they are also all orphaned – conveniently unencumbered by overtly prying, curious family members. The curriculum does not seem to be agreeing with them however and it’s not long before a strange wasting disease starts afflicting Moura’s innocent young tenants.

So Anne Wicklow, now six years older and a widow living in Ireland, decides to return to her old home after receiving some disturbing letters about these strange goings on from her cousin Kate.  Keeping her past connection to Moura a secret, Anne arrives pretending to be the new housekeeper and once again finds herself pitting her wits against an unidentified evil, more than ready to claim her as its next victim….

Those who like their vampires spelt with a ‘y’ and dripping in menace as well as blood, could do a lot worse than Vampyre of Moura. Virginia Coffman can turn on the creepy and really understands how to weave a gothic web of suspense from out of the strange and the sinister. For myself, Chateaux Moura’s  dank, dripping walls and snow-shrouded woods are so vividly depicted in this series that it’s like a second homecoming reading these books  – and what a fantastically evocative place to get lost in once in a while. Four out of five stars.


The Bridge of Strange Music

Three

Women

Loved

John Hardacre….

Prudence – Who felt the evil of Pen Farm embrace her – yet remained bound to a man who could never return her love…

Laura – Beautiful and wilful – whose desire for John Hardacre made her leave the glitter of London for the isolation and lonely terror of Pen Farm…

Violet – Sensuous and provocative who offered first her body and then her soul to possess the master of Pen Farm…

In the ominous silence of the house lay a hidden horror that would soon erupt – which one of the three women would survive the emotional holocaust?

Prudence? Laura? Violet?

An Ace Star Book. Written by Jane Blackmore. Copyright  1952.

Three women. One man. Sowing the seeds of sexual frustration on an isolated farmhouse where there is not much else to do but count chickens and watch the corn grow.

Welcome to Pen Farm,  a hormonal hot-bed of lust and jealousy, home to a pregnant wife who hates her life, a governess desperate to get pregnant and a slatternly milkmaid who is just, well, desperate.  Poor John Hardacre. I was feeling genuinely sorry for the bloke by page 15. Of course,  I soon figured he would end up happy ever after with the goody two-shoes governess, but it was enjoyable reading how he got there.

This book’s blend of witchy mysticism and earthy, farmyard fecundity reminded me a bit of the Nick Roeg film Puffball (based on the book by Fay Wheldon).  I wouldn’t describe the setting nor the story as a gothic romance but I did like the otherworldy, trippy quality threaded throughout Jane Blackmore’s prose – Pen Farm is a place where even something as mundane as frying an egg becomes an exercise in mind-altering metaphysicality:

“The egg fell sizzling, into the fat. She watched the transparency coagulate and tried to think what she should say to him but there seemed to be a heaviness inside her head. She could neither think nor feel. It was as if she were halfway under anaesthetic in that twilight stage where objects take an unexpected vividness, where the whole of existence focuses into a single point.

It was like that now with the egg. The golden globule was huge and magnetic. She knew that the room was around her. That ahead of her waited – decision. But no, in this fateful moment, everything was drawing together, rushing in headlong suction down into the heart of an egg. Perhaps this was how the unborn infant felt in the moment of birth. This aching plunging into space – this unbearable feeling of change.”

Three stars out of five stars with bonus points for use of the word empurpled.

The Cup of Thanatos

Dr Paul Holton could no longer ignore the facts: the mystery-shrouded Thanatos Society had sprung up from the smouldering ashes of the evil ‘Circle of Ra’ he had once helped to destroy. The name of the Satanic leader was different but Paul recognized the familiar Machiavellian techniques. Once again the insidious Dr. Blackton was pandering to his all-consuming lust for power and world domination.

Suddenly Paul found himself deeply involved for Sarah Wellington, a young and gentle friend, showed signs of drug addiction – and Sarah wore around her neck the distinctive symbol of the Society, named in honor of Thanatos – the ancient God of Death.

Paul had always known he and Dr Blackton would meet again. He knew, too, that one mistake could plunge them all into the Kingdom of Darkness…

Written by Charlotte Hunt (aka  Doris Marjorie Hodges). An Ace Gothic 1968.

The Cup of Thanatos is the second in Charlotte Hunt’s Dr Holton series, where our eponymous hero is once again fighting for freedom and the soul of a beautiful young girl against the villainous Dr Manfred Blackton and his mistress of ceremonies, the gorgeous I-am-so-evil-I-get-my-green-nail-varnish-specially-made-for-me-by-slaves-in-Cairo Madame Zerena.

Having narrowly escaped the clutches of Scotland Yard in the Gilded Sarcophagus, Manfred Blackton and Zerena are lying low in some North American desert, running a ‘nature cure’ sanatorium under the assumed names of Madame Olga and Dr Julius Grafton.

But it’s not long before they find bigger fish to fry when they are visited by Dr Mefferhossen, the leader of a secret satanic cult known as the Thanatos Society. By utilising mass-hypnosis techniques while channelling the ‘Lucifer Force’, they plan to create a new world order. To do this, Dr Mefferhossen needs our two mystic mercenaries to help him beg, borrow or steal the secrets of some of the greatest scientists in the world.

He sends Manfred and Zerena to England – to ‘soften up’ the famous English inventor Algernon Mannering and his psychically gifted daughter, Sarah. Algernon Mannering has invented an apparatus that, when combined with Sarah’s visionary powers, has the potential to pierce the ‘Barrier of the Cosmos’. The Thanatos Society believes this apparatus, combined with the right drugs, holds the key to taking control of the world.

But they have picked on the wrong victims as Sarah is an old friend of Dr Holton. When she gets drawn into the world of shady séances and drug taking rituals, Dr Holton becomes increasingly concerned for her safety. His worse suspicions are confirmed when she disappears and is presumed dead. He makes it his mission to find out what’s happened to her and what follows is an adventure that takes Paul Holton across Europe, culminating in him gate-crashing a Satanic Mass in a devil haunted monastery in the Austrian Alps.

The Cup of Thanatos is another enjoyable occult thriller in the Dr Holton series. Moving away from the first person viewpoint in The Gilded Sarcophagus, I enjoyed it better as more time is given to following the exploits of Dr Manfred Blackton and Zerena – the globe trotting pseudo-Satanists who are more than happy to lend their support to whichever world dominating, fanatical cults come their way.

There’s not much more to ask for if drug-addled, devil worshipping neo-nazis exploring the outer reaches of time-space consciousness is your thing, though I was a little disappointed by the Thanatos Society – for when one of their rituals successfully conjured a genuine supernatural spectre, most of the members ran off in terror! Hmm, not very hard these Satanists. It did however make it a lot easier for Dr Paul Holton to step in and save the day.

The cover art shares the same signature as my previously reviewed Beauty That Must Die but I’ve yet to find out anything about the artist. Four out of five stars.


Shadow of Theale

A three week working vacation at Theale House seemed a pleasant way to spend a holiday. Shortly after her arrival, however, Ruth Hilton realized that beneath the facade of quiet elegance, the peaceful seaside estate pulsed with a malignant evil…

What was the secret of the mute, half-witted retainer who tried desperately to communicate by means of pictures drawn on the family crypt? Why did fourteen-year-old Theo wake screaming in the night? Slowly but surely the events surrounding the disappearance of Lady Theale reached out to cast a pall of darkness about Ruth as she struggled to save her young charge – and herself – from the SHADOW OF THEALE.

Written by Frances Cowen. First Ace printing January 1974.

An ancient curse, a hidden treasure and murder to boot, this Ace Gothic has it all in abundance.

Ruth has spent the whole year saving for a dream holiday abroad, but  her brother has  just lost his job so she gives all her money to him and decides to take a working holiday in sunny Cornwall instead.

Answering an ad in the local paper she finds herself a paid companion to teenage Theadora – daughter of Lord and Lady Theale.

But Theale House has its secrets; the previous year, Lady Theale disappeared within the estate in mysterious circumstances. Ruth suspects some members of the household know a lot more than they are letting on and she soon finds her own life in peril when she uncovers an illegal smuggling ring operating from the cliffs at the bottom of the garden.

Shadow of Theale was an enjoyable read, though some of the writing was a little clunky, particularly early on in the book, and I found myself  having to re-read bits to make sure I understood them properly. I think a little more time editing would have fixed this and overall I liked Frances Cowen’s prose and gothic touches. Portents, premonitions and pitiful halfwits abound in this remote part of the Cornish coastline and it came as no surprise to learn those hippies camped out in the bottom of the garden were up to no good.

Three out of four stars.

There is a signature to the bottom right for the cover artist, but I can’t be sure I have the name right; I think it might be H Barton. I have another cover by this artist, A Touch of Myrrh written by Charlotte Hunt (detail  posted below). I love the artist’s use of colour and brushstrokes – you can almost smell those oil paints dripping off the canvas! If anyone has any idea who the artist is, please let me know!

**Stop Press!** I have been told the artist is Harry Barton. I can’t find much about him on the web but here’s some more of his work HERE.

Leap in the Dark

Doctor Antoine’s voice penetrated Nurse Jeanne’s shock like a distant echo, recalling her to reality. For of course, she thought numbly, this was nothing but a dream. It couldn’t be happening. This handsome man who had appeared from nowhere couldn’t be ushering in a beautiful stranger and introducing her as herself! This was a moment of madness, a nightmare from which she would awaken.

But even when she took a deep breath and forced her startled glance toward the Doctor she couldn’t focus her senses sufficiently to grasp the reality of it all. In a remote part of her consciousness, she felt as if she had leaped so far into the dark that she found herself in a world where nothing made sense; where the impossible happened, where strangers bore her own name and she was in the guise of someone else.

Written by Rona Randall. Published by Ace Books 1956.

An interesting take on the mistaken identity plot twist. Jeanne Cleary is on her way to nursing college in London and on a whim hops off the train in a remote village in France. The station’s deserted so she follows a dusty path through the countryside leading her to the local chateau.

By a strange (very strange) coincidence, nurse-to-be Jeanne finds herself mistaken as an actual nurse (due to arrive that very day) who had recently been hired to look after the lady of the manor, Comtesse de Clementeaux.

Our pretend nurse and the aristocratic old lady get on like a house on fire and Jeanne finds herself very much at home in her new role. But that’s no surprise to Jeanne for she has recognised the family crest on display in the chateau as the very same one engraved on a gold ring given to her by her deceased mother. Jeanne has stumbled into her long lost ancestral home, she is the Comtesse’s long lost granddaughter and rightful heir to the Clementeaux  inheritance.

Just as Jeanne decides to find a convenient time to break the news to her new found granny, another girl turns up – declaring herself to be Jeanne Cleary, the Comtesse’s granddaughter! The real Jeanne knows this new interloper is just a gold digging impostor but how  can she reveal her true identity without breaking her own cover? So a sticky situation turns into a quagmire of confusion as our heroine battles to assert her rightful position within her new found family and win the heart of the handsome Dr Paul Antoine.

Though the plot is completely and utterly too far fetched for comfort, Rona Randall’s writing does just about make things work and I found this a rather absorbing read. There’s not too much gothic going on – the castle is far too well maintained and sunny for starters – but there is enough intrigue and romance to keep things interesting.

The cover art is credited to Lou Marchetti and is a treat – extra points given for this cover as it’s refreshing to see a heroine dressed in something other than a floaty nightie. Three out of five stars.


 

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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