Whenever I see a book with a beautiful cover and the word ‘HALL’ in the title it is a sure bet that I will want to investigate further. This is likely a throwback to my adolescent reading days filled with gothic suspense fiction.
This is my first time reading the work of Jenni Keer and it was an enjoyable experience. Yes it was an historical romance, but it was so much more. It was a novel of puzzles, wrapped up in riddles. The setting, a quirky old Suffolk manor house, was the central character of the novel which spanned two time periods.
The Bellingham family who owned Halesham Hall were plagued with unhappiness. The patriarch of the family was a malicious, tyrannical, and bitter man who liked nothing better than to impose cruelty on others. He was the founding father of the highly successful Bellingham Board Games empire and played games with his family. Sometimes they were cruel mind-games, and sometimes they were riddles embedded within the walls of the manor. When his cruelty became too much for his beautiful wife, she fled the manor and left her two sons behind. Thus, the story of the two sons, and how they were manipulated and maliciously treated by their father, spurs the story onward.
The sons, vastly different in temperament, experience, and age, reacted to their father’s machinations in dissimilar ways. They were pitted against each other for the right to inheritance. Also, more importantly, they fell in love with the same woman.
This historical romance contains themes of revenge, obsessive love, social class disparities, family secrets, and the effect that a cold and unloving parent can have upon the lives of children.
I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy historical romances with atmospheric settings. It helps if you appreciate gothic vibes and delight in puzzling riddles.
After gaining a history degree, Jenni Keer embarked on an career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique-restorer husband and their four teenage boys. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework, but it remains a mystery, so is more usually found at her keyboard writing fun romantic comedies with her blind cat Seymour by her side.
When not up to her elbows in family life, she can be found busy with her Edwardian marquetry business, planning her next fancy dress party or practicing her formation dance moves.