Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt

A rich gothic tale of mystery, suspense, and romance

With Over 100 Million Copies Sold,
Victoria Holt is the Queen of Gothic Romance

"I shall be back," he said.

"Perhaps sooner than you think."

He took my face in his hands and looked at me; I thought he was going to kiss me, but he seemed to change his mind and suddenly, he was gone and I was alone in the autumn-scented garden.

Dark Secrets. Lost Treasure. Delicious Scandal.

Anna Brett fears she's doomed to be a governess to an English family for the rest of her life. But when the dashing captain Redvers Stretton struts back into her life, she is whisked away from the bleak English countryside forever. But is that such a good thing?

While the charming blue-eyed captain makes Anna forget her troubled past, he is hiding dark secrets of his own. It's no coincidence that Stretton's ship is namedThe Secret Woman. During their voyage to the South Seas, with a murder dogging her steps and the mystery of a missing treasure haunting her dreams, Anna is forced to confront the clever captain—a man who may have just as many secrets as she.

Originally released in 1970, Victoria Holt’s gothic novel, The Secret Woman makes a renewed debut. After the deaths of her parents, her Aunt Charlotte becomes Anna’s legal guardian. They live in an old manor filled with antique furniture purchased and sold as part of her aunt’s business. Anna develops a strong interest and acquires much expertise regarding antiques, as she is being prepared to take over when her aunt dies.

At the age of twelve, Anna meets Redvers Stretton, one of the heirs to the Crediton family fortune. She falls in love and over the years becomes obsessed with the kind, handsome sea captain. When her aunt dies, suspicion falls on her, and she soon finds herself nearly destitute. Fate brings her back to Crediton Castle where she works as a governess. There she learns that Redvers is married to a sick wife named Monique and Chantel, the nurse who cares for her. Soon, Anna finds herself sailing to exotic islands near Australia where secrets will begin to unravel.

This is a wonderfully complex novel filled with plenty of secrets, a strong gothic atmosphere, a mystery involving a ship and missing diamonds, mind altering potions, a poignant love story, and fascinating characters that kept me entertained and guessing until the end. The start and middle of the story were slow, but near the middle, the story picks up and the pace is greatly increased. Despite this, the book is definitely worth reading for its lush storyline and great writing.

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