The Wolf of Haskell Hall
The idea that a person may, with every full moon, abandon every last vestige of civilization and humanity and become a wolf is an idea that has fascinated people for centuries, and if well used, can add a wonderfully dark, doomed tone to a romance. Here, in The Wolf of Haskell Hall, the werewolf myth is added to the love story of a young American heiress and the mysterious man who manages her new property in England.
Delilah Haskell Trent, or Lil as she is called, has left Denver to come to Haskell Hall in Cornwall. The last of the Haskell heiresses, she must stay at the property for six months or it will be divided among several distant relatives. The curse lingering over Haskell Hall has resulted in the deaths of the previous heiresses, all of whom died torn apart by wolves. Soon enough Lil’s mission to survive the curse takes a more personal slant when she becomes involved with her estate manager, Ian Griffith. Now, ownership of Haskell Hall takes a back seat to finding a way to break the curse cast so long ago by a heartbroken Gypsy girl.
Ian and Delilah are not alone in their search for a solution, however. They are joined by Jeremy and Safira, two servants who have accompanied Delilah to Cornwall, and by Shelly Holmes, the woman who comes to run the stables at Haskell Hall and who soon catches Jeremy’s eye. Shelly’s own predicament makes for an interesting secondary plot, and she has some of the most interesting scenes in the book, whether she’s sparring with Jeremy or helping Lil. In contrast, Ian is almost a secondary character in his own romance novel, partly because he is not that well defined. While he tries to be noble and push Lil away for her own sake, he can’t help but act on the lust he feels for her.
While moving to another country, another society, and finding out you’ve landed in the middle of curses and werewolves would unsettle most people, Lil seems to take it all remarkably in stride. There is a feeling of detachment about her, as if people may come and go and things may happen but there will be no lasting impact on her. And while she and Ian may have been thrown together because of the curse and the predetermined bond between them, I saw little else that may hold them together for the rest of their lives.
There is little subtlety with either characters or plot. The prose is flowery and overdone to the point that at times it interfered with the pace of the scenes – even the love scenes – and I’d find myself thinking, “alright already, just get on with it!” There is never any question about what the characters are doing or whether they have hidden motives. If a character has something to hide, then he or she very obviously has something to hide. The relationship between Delilah and Ian is a good example of a relationship where there is no growth or development. By page 40 we have a pretty hot scene between two people who barely met twenty pages before.
The Wolf of Haskell Hall didn’t satisfy, but I was left with enough interest in Shelly and Jeremy that if their story were continued in another book, I’d be tempted to give it a try.