(I purchased this book.)
When Marcus Lord Cheyne takes possession of his inheritance, he is not expecting the castle to be haunted by a ghost—especially not such a beautiful ghost as Rowena. As for Rowena, her biggest problem is not that she is trapped within the walls of Castle Ravenswych, which she is, but that she is not, in fact, actually deceased…
Originally published in 1992, this Regency romance novella is quite charming and has an unusually feisty heroine. It begins with spunky and supremely annoyed young Rowena fighting off the extremely unwelcome advances of her slimy guardian just weeks after her uncle's death. After Rowena knocks him down with a crystal decanter, he chases her into a dark forest where she has the presence of mind to fake her own death by drowning. After the inquest he returns to London, and Rowena takes up secret residence in the castle under the protection of the elderly housekeeper and her husband. She must stay hidden for one year. When she turns 21, her guardian will have no control over her. Her only relative, a second cousin who inherited the title and castle, is a soldier off fighting.
Rowena was a lot of fun to read. She's practical, tough and smart. She loves the housekeeping couple, who treat her like a daughter. A refreshing change from heroines of traditional Regency romances, particularly as this book was originally published in 1992.
When Lord Cheyne returns to claim his inheritance and recover from severe injuries, Rowena has a hard time staying hidden. And soon Rowena and Lord Cheyne are left alone in the castle for an entire weekend. (By now I'm wondering how dirty this huge castle must be, with just an elderly couple as caretakers, and 2 girls who come from the village 2x a week to clean.)
At this point the story took a left turn at Albuquerque, when smart and steady Rowena falls madly in love with Lord Cheyne while nursing him back from the brink of death. One of the first things she does upon finding him feverish and barely alive in his bed is kiss his scars, imagining the pain and loss he has suffered as a soldier. They are definitely soulmates and true loves, because he senses her love through his delirium, of course. Luckily he remains feverish all weekend so he's not entirely sure if Rowena is real or a ghost, further protecting her secret for the last few days before her 21st birthday.
Luckily there were only a few pages left at this point, or I might have stopped reading. The charm of the earlier story, and fresh take on a Regency heroine, were somewhat spoiled by Rowena's drastic discovery of her true love and the bizarre emotional trip of her and Lord Cheyne.
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Charlotte Louise Dolan earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in German from Middlebury College. She has lived throughout the United States and in Germany, the Soviet Union, Canada, Taiwan, and Austria. A bookworm since the age of four, she fell in love with Regency England when she read her first Georgette Heyer book. Besides writing, she has worked as a high school German teacher, a toymaker, a tech editor, a genealogist, and a craft designer. She is the mother of three children.