LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52412-0
Paranormal Romance, 2001
I haven’t read much Gothic stories, but I have this vague idea that they tend to involve girls in see-through white sleeping gowns fleeing in terror down deserted hallways of a manor, chased by the cackling horny hero. Or wait, is that a T&A straight-to-video movie? Never mind. The Wolf of Haskell Hall, however, does little to enlighten me on the nature of Gothic romances. It does have the heroine running down hallways, and since the hero is a werewolf and this is a rather mediocre romance. Werewolf hero = WHINING TIME. Ugh.
Delilah Haskell Trent inherits Haskell Hall on one condition: she has to live in it for half a year. Never mind that previous heiresses have met their death in a rather gory way – torn by wolves, yummy – our intrepid Lil decides to pack up and get her butt over from America to Cornwall. She finds a hunky estate manager, Ian Griffith, whom she then wastes no time doing the wolfy conga with – awooo-ooooo-ooo! Thing is, Ian tends to get hairier and shaggier at each full moon.
It’s a curse laid by – who else? A mad Gypsy from ages past. A love affair between a Griffith male and a Trent female? Doomed, doomed, doomed, all of you! Heehee hahahahaha!
Can Lil break the curse? Can love tame the beast within?
Thing is, The Wolf of Haskell Hall can’t sustain the creepy atmosphere at all. It reads like a bad parody of a romance with creepy overtones. The author mistakenly believes that florid, purple prose can be passed off as Gothic creepiness. And in making Ian the wolfie with a whiny, rusty-iron-shrieky conscience, the author inadvertently distances me from him. I have no idea what makes him tick, although I know what makes his Mr Wonky goes ticky-ticky overdrive. The love scenes could be hot, but the florid prose distracts me most of the time.
Ultimately though, this story is boring. Maybe it’s just me, but what’s the fun in having a whiny hero who keeps pushing the heroine away for her own good even while boinking her repeatedly anyway? It gets tedious after a while. Lil is a capable heroine, but I don’t see anything beyond sexual chemistry between her and Ian.
The Wolf of Haskell Hall takes a nice erotic fantasy of kinky-shagging up a hairy, nasty beasty old meanie and turns it into a mediocre yarn of whiny doggie guys and annoyingly perky heroines poking their noses into matters where they don’t belong. Oh well, at least the purple prose is rather funny at times.