Draw Down the Darkness
In her latest novel, Naomi Bellis takes many of the good parts of the old Gothic romances, including an eerie mood and deep dark secrets, and turns them into a thrilling romance. Gone, though, is the passive heroine and her overbearing lover of old while the author’s stronger and more complex leads do a wonderful job of carrying this tale.
Helen Barrett has been engaged to Nicholas Saville, Viscount Redfern, for years. After suffering through unexplained absences and years of feeling forgotten by the man she thought she loved, Helen breaks the engagement. However, unknown to Helen, Redfern has been living a double life as a spy for the Crown – and here we thought this was every heroine’s dream job for her man! While Redfern has compelling reasons to do what he does, he dares not share them with Helen and so the conflict grows.
After breaking her engagement, Helen finds herself being courted by an earl whom she instinctively distrusts and who makes her skin crawl, but he also has the means to advance her brother’s political career. As the earl worms his way into Helen’s good graces, Redfern cannot stay away from her either. When Helen changes dramatically and seems almost to be trapped under a spell, Redfern finds that he cannot stand by and watch it happen. He determines that he will save her – spying assignment or not.
Bellis does a wonderful job of creating a hero and heroine who are real, intelligent people. While the tale of necessity verges on the melodramatic, the author manages to make the most fantastic events and paranormal elements feel plausible. One cannot help rooting for Redfern as he goes about his assignment and also tries to win back his love. Helen is also bright and likable, and watching her come alive over the course of the story is a real joy.
While the ending of this book felt a little rushed and left perhaps a few loose ends dangling, Draw Down the Darkness still stands out as a wonderful homage to the Gothic novels I used to read as a teenager. The author creates a deliciously creepy atmosphere and, as the book progressed, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster. Those who enjoy the Gothic revival we have been seeing lately will likely want to snap this one up.