Judith’s review of Abigail Jones by Grace Callaway
A Maid with a Secret. . . Beneath her shy, bookish exterior, Abigail Jones hides a terrible affliction: shocking and licentious visions possess her, threatening her very sanity. When she is suddenly left alone in the world, Abby must seek a position at Hope End, a gothic English estate. She hopes to find refuge there, but instead she discovers pieces of a mystery: a portrait of a haunting beauty, a housekeeper who knows too much, and a powerful lord torn between revenge and seduction …
A Lord with a Past . . . Enigmatic and handsome as sin, Earl Huxton is surrounded by rumors about the unexplained death of his first wife and his boldly rakish behavior. Beneath Hux’s debonair façade, however, lies hidden torment—and a secret burning quest for vengeance. Nothing compromises his pursuit of justice until he meets Abby, a maid who seems to see into the dark corners of his soul and whose touch entices him to relinquish the past for an infinitely sweeter obsession …
A Love for All Time . . . Hux and Abby’s adventures take them from the gothic countryside to the erotic underworld of Victorian London. As passion flares between them, dangerous secrets begin to unravel. With the final battle against evil looming, a startling connection between his past and her secret comes to light. Will the demons of the past destroy their future … or will their love vanquish the darkness?
Psychic phenomena were not readily received as anything other than mental illness until just a few decades ago. How like human beings to simply lock away anything and anyone they either can’t or won’t understand. So it was with Abigail’s mother, a woman “afflicted” with the dark visions that also seem to be an inescapable part of Abby’s life from her earliest years. Under the tutelage of her Aunt Agnes, Abigail gained some knowledge of how to deal with the visions when they came upon her–a phenomenon over which she had no control as when it might happen. Abigail was also very young and because of her lack of social connections or at least the security of knowing that she was legitimate, she was shy, prone to keep out of harm’s way by keeping out of sight of her “betters.” When the earl first noticed her, she was frightened and hoping that their encounter would pass from his conscious memory.
This is a story about the real war between good and evil, the evil represented by Lilith and her place as Queen of the Dark Spirits and the mythic “first wife” of Adam. The Archangel Michael shows up briefly, but mostly this is a story about the earl’s war on the offspring of Lilith in order to give eternal peach to the soul of his deceased brother, James. There are lots of twists and turns in this novel, surprising developments between the earl and Abigail, and a romance between these two unlikely lovers. Throughout the early pages of the story I was fearful that it would go as did many in that time: the earl would set his sights on Abigail, misuse her sexually, and then move on, leaving her to deal with the physical and social fall-out. This is not the case here, but there is a lot going on with the earl and Abigail respectively that slowly emerges and all of which complicates their relationship as well as the outcome of this tale.
I’m not as “into” paranormals involving Lilith et al as are many readers, but I have to admit that I was quite riveted to the pages while reading this book and found it to be vastly entertaining. Beautifully written with characters who are clear and concise, evidence that the author has done some substantive historical research, and a writing style that is easy to read and which moves the story along without dead spots or unnecessary explanatory sections. The story is well-edited and free from the grammatical junk that plagues so many ebooks. It was a splendid read from that stand point. I was also gratified by the overall slant to the story–the whole matter of what it means to be different and the dirth of acceptance people offer to those they don’t understand or who live/act outside the accepted social boundaries. For the earl who was far more deeply involved in the “darkness” than Abigail, his proclivities and eccentricities were simply dismissed as his being a “rogue” or a man who cared little for society’s opinion of him. But for Abigail, any slight thing out of the ordinary easily served to brand her as unacceptable. This, as much as anything, burdened Abigail–not that she cared all that much, but it certainly influenced her ability to find shelter or potential employment. It is these and other social issues that make historical romances really valuable as reading for me. Ultimately, it is really all about people, how they think and live and how they order their own environment and society that attracts me to stories. I think we are all about story anyway–our own and others as well.
This is the second book by this author that I have read and I was delighted to do so. It was unlike most of the historicals I usually read but I think it was especially satisfying for just that very reason. I really enjoyed it and recommend it especially to those who like the paranormal slant in their historical romances and simply want to read a really good book.
I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5
This book is available from Grace Callaway Publishing. You can buy it here or here in e-format.