by Evelyn Rogers, historical/paranormal (2002)
LoveSpell (Candleglow), $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5115-X
Evelyn Rogers' latest Gothic romance, The Ghost Of Carnal Cove is so nondescript that I have no idea whether this book is actually a contemporary or a historical until page 145, when it is finally confirmed that the story takes place in 1863. It plies together all the stock plot devices of a Gothic romance, but upon closer examination, there are many things in this story that don't make sense.
For example, the plot seems to necessitate our hero Nicholas Saintjohn being as rude and obnoxious as possible. Sure enough our heroine Makenna Lindsay starts writhing in bed in some lust-induced fit, apparently Gothic heroines having some sadistic attraction to men who are either villainous or psychotic. The story starts on a very windy dusk where our heroine, apparently acting on some airy-fairy "instinct", just has to wander down to Carnal Cove. There, she meets Nicholas who then rudely insinuates that she is down here to meet a sailor for rumpy-pumpies before asking her to get lost.
Why would he ask her to get lost? No idea, apparently he's just a sourpuss that way and apparently all Gothics must have the hero snarling at the heroine to get lost.
Carnal Cove is like a glamorized brothel - legends have it that servant girls go down here to meet sailors. I turn back a few pages. Yup, it's cold, it's windy, and it's freezing. Who on earth is mad enough to have sex in a condition like this? May as well take ice cubes and stuff them up one's carnal cove, if you ask me. That makes the hero suggesting that the heroine coming down there to have sex a no-brainer.
Then, intrigued by this rude man, our heroine then wanders around the place, searching for answers about anything and nothing. She comes here all the way from London because she has just had her heart broken or something. She hears a child crying at night - a ghost? She sees a woman in white. Another ghost? Old ladies pop up with stories. Our heroine meets the hero, who acts ruder and ruder with each encounter, and she happily obeys when he demands that she get naked for him. No wonder she has her heart broken. That girl has no taste in men.
Nicholas' wife and kid died under mysterious circumstances. Are the ghosts his...? The hero, of course, won't tell. Even ten pages before the last page, he is mocking the heroine, calling her names, and acting like a condescending jerk, all the way sulking because his life is so miserable, boo hoo hoo.
Why would the heroine care about the ghosts? Why doesn't she just pack up and go to a less morose town to nurse her heartbreak? What makes her attracted to the hero and he her? That and many more questions just aren't answered at all. Everyone here is just going through the motions of what the author believe that characters in a Gothic romance must do, and in the end, The Ghost Of Carnal Cove is as insubstantial as its namesake. It's not very carnal though, alas.
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