The Haunting of Henrietta
Let’s say for a moment that St. Peter actually has the time to worry about each and every one of us when we arrive at the Pearly Gates (the waiting lines would be horrific). Through some sort of a mix up, could he actually condemn a few people to walk the Earth until they can get the brownie points they need to get through those gates? An interesting, if not unique premise.
Henrietta is a Courtenay. Her family has been fighting with the Fitzpaine family for generations, courtesy of spirits Kit and Jane, who caused problems between the Courtenays and the Fitzpaines when they were alive. Kit and Jane have a few short months every winter to join a Courtenay and a Fitzpaine in marriage – their due to pay so they can go to heaven.
The couple Kit and Jane choose to bring together are Henrietta and Mark Fitzpaine. The situation looks promising. Mark and Henrietta have a secret past and are still hopelessly attracted to each other. It would just take a gentle push in the right direction if it weren’t for the personal attention of Old Nick (the devil, to those of you that are unfamiliar with that particular nickname). Apparently Old Nick has a personal involvement – he wants Kit and Jane to join him down under. So Kit and Jane have to overcome boggles, accidents against Henrietta (thanks to a helper of Old Nick), plus Henrietta’s fiancé and the Big Misunderstanding, and other trickery before Henrietta and Mark can begin their happily ever after.
My spiritual beliefs aside (this is fiction, after all), I had trouble buying this story line. If St. Peter really existed, why would he be involved in this? Why, for that matter, would the devil? Aren’t they really busy? Wouldn’t St. Peter have underlings to keep an eye on the devil and the whole situation? The devil had help, after all, why not the good guys as well?
And frankly, I was annoyed when Henrietta believed her louse of a fiancé, instead of Mark, her true love, without getting the story from Mark, and then got engaged to the louse. What was that about? Otherwise, I found Henrietta to be a very independent, strong, supportive heroine, with a few too stupid to live moments. The sub plot involving French smugglers is interesting, the hero is dashing and quite the lady’s man to boot. The ghosts are funny, but a bit sanctimonious. The devil’s helper is truly rotten. Lots to like.
The Haunting of Henrietta may sound ominous, but in reality it is a light romp. I had a few moments of confusion, when I thought Old Nick was old Kris Kringle, and I thought why the heck would Santa be involved in all of this? I’ve never heard that particular nickname for old Pitch. If you can suspend disbelief enough, you might find this book enjoyable, if a bit too overly dramatic at times – “You have always been a temptation beyond endurance, my darling … but I will continue to resist.”
Did I tell you that the hero is a hoot? Everything proper and British. I adored him. The rest of the book is not too bad, but could have been better.