A Dangerous Inheritance
A Dangerous Inheritance is the first book in Harlequin Intrigue’s new gothic romance promotion, Eclipse. It’s too bad a stronger book wasn’t chosen to get the mini-series off to a better start. This one simply isn’t good.
In true gothic fashion, Stacy Ashford arrives in Timberlane, Colorado, in the middle of a violent storm. Her destination is the Haverly Hotel, a rundown mountain inn she just inherited from a distant relative. But as she makes her way deep into the Rockies, her car goes off the road and nearly plunges into a river. She narrowly manages to escape with the help of a mysterious stranger who appears out of the darkness.
Josh Spencer knows the Haverly Hotel all too well. His sister Glenda died there two years earlier. The sheriff ruled her death an accident, saying Glenda jumped from a balcony. Josh is convinced someone pushed her. As Stacy begins to renovate the hotel, Josh comes to work for her. And then – oh, I don’t know. A lot of boring things happen.
I’m always up for a good gothic, so this one was a real disappointment. The story is both uninteresting and poorly executed, a dire combination. It didn’t offend me, the indication of a truly horrible book, and I didn’t hate it. It’s simply not good on any level. The characters are flat and dull. Stacy and Josh couldn’t possibly be any blander. They have no spark of personality, nothing that gives them more than a single dimension. Calling them wooden is an insult to good lumber. And taken as a couple they have no chemistry either.
The writing is very awkward. Karr is a veteran author, but you wouldn’t know it from this book. The dialogue is lifeless. The exposition is lazy. Readers who can’t stand head-hopping should avoid this one. The author has a habit of switching POV on what seems like every other page, and at least once, within a paragraph. She can’t even keep her facts straight. In Chapter Two, someone tells Stacy her uncle “had a heart attack carrying a huge hunk of marble up the hillside all by himself.” But in Chapter Eight, we get this moment:
As Stacy got out of the car, Chester reached in the back for one of the marble chunks. “Wow, these babies are heavy,” he complained. “No wonder Willy’s heart blew a gasket trying to haul one of these around.”
“Is that what happened?” Stacy asked. She had just been told that her uncle had died from a heart attack, but she hadn’t been given any of the details. “He was lifting a piece of marble?”
For one terrifying moment, I thought she’d been struck with amnesia when I wasn’t looking. It always amazes me when no one catches an error like that during the editorial process. In this case, it may be understandable. The copy editors likely fell asleep while reading this book, causing them to miss that moment.
For a gothic, the story is neither mysterious nor suspenseful. Instead, it’s utterly predictable. There is not a single surprise to be found here. The plot is tension-free, uninvolving, and so very boring. I’m not sure why this book was chosen to launch the Eclipse promotion. Hopefully it wasn’t because this is the strongest book Harlequin has on tap. If so, we’re in for some rocky reading ahead of us.