Evil at Roger’s Cross


Prudence Dudley sought solitude in which to recover from the ache of a lover’s betrayal.

She found an oddly isolated house in which bitter secrets lurked and sinister tensions lay buried just beneath the surface.

She tried to avoid becoming involved, but she was drawn deeper and deeper into the whirlpool of emotion. And finally she had to make a choice between two fiercely proud brothers, and discover what was hidden behind THE IRON FACADE.

Written by Catherine Marchant. Lancer Books 1965.

I’ve not read this one yet but thought I’d post it anyway since I really like the cover art and it seems a suitably storm-tossed one to usher in the Autumn with.

Evil at Roger’s Cross has also been published under the title of The Iron Façade and Catherine Marchant is a pseudonym used by the multi-million selling writer Catherine Cookson – one of the UK’s most widely read novelists, with sales topping 100 million.

Lancer published at least three other Catherine Marchant novels in the 60’s – House of Men, Heritage of Folly and House on the Fens. Out of these, I’ve read House of Men and hope to review that one soon. In the meantime, here’s a sample of  Roger’s Cross from the inside cover:

Don’t let this disturb you unduly, Pru. Yet I felt I ought to warn you.

“Don’t let this disturb you unduly.” My heart was racing now. The old fear was filling me again. My lips were trembling, and I felt sick. I could hear Aunt Maggie talking, but, strangely, I couldn’t see her, for the room had become blurred, dark. I said something. What it was, I don’t know. Then I felt Aunt Maggie’s hand gripping my wrist. So hard did she grip that I winced…

Nothing that I had been through before had caused me to faint. Now I felt myself falling…

The House on Hay Hill

One of today’s outstanding novelists writes tales about love, intrigue, wealth, power – and of course romance. THE HOUSE ON HAY HILL will keep the reader’s dreams intact and keep the reader turning pages deep into the night.

Here is romantic suspense at its best – the beguiling story of a young woman’s unexpected legacy and a bewildering impersonation that threatens her future.

Written by Dorothy Eden. First Fawcett Crest printing May 1976

For me, it’s Autumn, rather than Spring, that symbolises the beginning of things – with Summer being relegated the season of closing up shop and shutting off from the world. As a result, there is something about this time of the year that brings out the butterfly-brained in me – and I find myself barely able to concentrate on much of anything useful, let alone read and review a whole book.

So it was nice to come across a collection of short fiction by Dorothy Eden with this gorgeous cover by Harry Bennett. As well as the title story, House of Hay Hill includes five others – The lady and the Tycoon, Fly by Night, Summer’s Love Affair, The Hopeful Traveller, Love in the Wilderness, Mirage and Happy Ever After. Acknowledgement is made to Woman’s Journal and Good Housekeeping where they first appeared.

I reviewed one of Dorothy Eden’s books, Voice of the Dolls, last year and found it less than amazing, but I’m three stories into House and enjoying it very much. The titular story is the longest and my favourite so far – a twisted tale of intrigue and impersonation where a young heiress finds her inheritance under threat when someone pretending to be her starts burglarising her house, then flogging off the family heirlooms. Haunted by a mysterious doppelganger and sinister antique shops that have a habit of disappearing, she turns to her handsome cousins for help but, when there is this much money and a grand Victorian mansion up for grabs, how far can she really trust them?

The cover art on my Fawcett Crest edition is lovely – the flowing headscarf, gown and beads combo (almost) making me yearn for the days of flares and kaftans, and judging from the beautiful regency-style facades behind her, she could be parading round The Old Steine in Brighton. Four out of five stars.

Cotton Moon

Jan Van Ord was a blond brute of a man who’d stop at nothing to get what he wanted. When he found Ellen he won her heart with a glance, her body with a touch. But he had to kill to posess her completely. His land bore heavy crops, harvested with the blood and sweat of his slaves.

He knew no fear – for him all black men were weak and only a strong man could hate. But he sooned learned that every desperate man, white or black, is dangerous.

That even his own wife wasn’t safe.

That too much hatred could plunge a nation into bloody war.

That a man had more to lose than his life…

Written by Catherine Tracy. Published 1973 by World Distributors Ltd, Manchester.

Well, well, well, this is a bit of a find. No sooner had I posted Image of Evil below than I come across this little slice of slave-trade salaciousness in the Trinity Hospice bookshop in Kensington.

I searched for ‘Cameo Romance’ on the web, just to find out more about this series but, apart from my beloved Ace Cameo Gothics, there’s no mention of a Cameo Romance line from the UK at all, so I’m not sure if these were published as ‘straight’ romances or gothics.

Though the rather fetching pink Cameo tag might suggest otherwise, there’s not much romantic about Cotton Moon – a quick flick through the pages revealing a twisted tale of randy old landowners and their innocent young brides getting all hot under the collar amidst a stormy backdrop of mistreated mistresses and sweatin’ slaves. Bonus points for the ending though – in the final chapter, our cruel yet irresistibly virile hero, Van Ord, finally realises it is Ellen who is the love of his life. So he strides across the plantation straight into her bedroom in order to declare his undying love for her. Alas, it is here he discovers our heroine has died. Alone. And unhappy.

And that doesn’t happen in many contemporary romances – not even the gothic ones!

And a link to a much more gorgeous cover over at flikr is – HERE.