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 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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Fear Among the Shadows

fearamongtheshadows

“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.

shadowsfearThere are no crumbling castles, no ghosts or evil entities lurking in the shadows and the whole story takes place in sunny 1970’s California. But don’t let that put you off as this is a rather well written murder mystery that keeps it’s secrets right up till the end.

Our heroine, Julie Wescott, gets swept out to sea and nearly drowns, only to be swept off her feet by the tall, bronzed and handsome Greg Drake. Things couldn’t get any more perfect until she discovers he’s married – and then events go from bad to worse when his wife ends up dead. What looks like a tragic shooting following a botched burglary becomes enshrouded in mystery as Greg’s brother in law, David, appears on the scene – convinced Greg is the actual culprit and determined to avenge his sister’s death by proving his guilt.

But Julie cannot believe her beloved Greg could do such a thing and, with an alibi tighter than skin on a drum, neither can we. Or can we? But how could he have done it when he was with Julie the night of the murder?And what about David? Is he all he appears to be anyway?

Needless to say it all works out in the end but, with some interesting plot twists, dark revelations and a complete red herring that had me fooled right up to the end, this is a suspenseful, page-turning murder mystery worthy of an episode of Columbo. Three out of five stars.