Monday, August 29, 2022

Book Review: A Dreadful Splendor by BR Myers

In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners--until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The Lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young Lord peace, she will win her freedom.

Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve's skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly--yet exceedingly handsome--gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren't required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset's ghost could be all too real...

A Dreadful Splendor is a wickedly whimsical brew of mystery, spooky thrills, and intoxicating romance that makes for an irresistibly fun and page-turning read.

I will start by saying that I would not consider this so much a gothic book as I would a period mystery. Gothic romance, mystery, whatever, it is one of my favorite genres, so in the end, I was a bit disappointed that I didn't really get what I thought I was going into.

With that being said, the writing, especially toward the end of the book was wonderful. The Victorian setting did give the feel, ever so slightly of gothic, however, the book got much better when I pushed the word out of my mind. I actually loved the haunting atmosphere of the story and the writer certainly kept me guessing who the killer actually was.

There is a slow build romance that takes place in the book as well. I did not feel that the two love interests had much chemistry between them, but I do appreciate that Myers gave us a slow build instead of insta-love. There is nothing I dislike more in a book than insta-love. I want the drama, the tension...

There were times I felt that the story was a bit slow and during those times I caught my mind wandering off to trivial things. I think what really kept me reading and pushing through the thing that I did not like was Myers's very vivid descriptions throughout the book.

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