Novels Review

The Forgotten House on the Moor by Jane Lovering

Written by ibxis

Dear Ms. Lovering,

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after reading the blurb for this book. Yorkshire Moors and some kind of mystery, yes – but ghosts? Hmmm, okay, maybe. I’m still turning over what I think about Alice’s self esteem issues and how often they were mentioned. Plus there is one character I just didn’t get at all. Still I guess there’s someone for everyone.

Alice is my kind of friend – practical and level headed. But Alice’s nature is due to her painful family past of taking care of two parents with tons of health issues. Alice never minded doing this but it has shaped her as the one to handle all the heavy lifting and to put aside her dreams in order to have a steady job and pension. Even her marriage to Grant was more in the nature of they fell into a relationship and Alice’s dying mother wanted her daughter settled. Waffling Grant was always more than willing to let Alice do everything and make all the decisions. When he suddenly announced he was leaving, Alice discovered she could do just as well without him and never even bothered to get a divorce. Which is why the police come looking for her as the next of kin.

Mystified as to why her lazy husband would be where he was, Alice investigates and meets Max and Jenna. Willowy Jenna had been dating Grant (much to Alice’s amazement) and is distraught at his death while her handsome brother is worried about Jenna’s mental health (as a past boyfriend did a number on Jenna). As Alice’s life becomes entangled with theirs and she begins to help Max with his research, two bombshells go off in her life. Both of them might be problematic but for very different reasons.

As the story is told from Alice’s first-person POV, I’m glad I liked her. I can relate to Alice as sometimes housekeeping doesn’t hold my interest either. She might not have thought of Grant anymore but Alice shows an all to human reaction when she compares herself to slender and beautiful Jenna and wonders what Jenna saw in Grant. Honestly, the man couldn’t have changed that much in six years, could he? Jenna and Max share Alice’s befuddlement at why Grant was where he was at 2 am. Grant had only known about the house on the moor because of Max’s professional and personal interest in it.

Soon however Alice isn’t thinking much about Grant (beyond still being amazed that he was dating Jenna and they had planned a life together) but has shifted her attention to the reason why Max was studying the moor house. She’s also gobsmacked that handsome and posh Max appears to be interested in her. Alice has never had men be interested in her beyond Grant, who ended up her, and can’t bring herself to believe that handsome Max would pursue very curvy her. This is detailed at length for most of the book. I get Alice’s reluctance to accept that Max’s interest is real but after a while, when she started down the same rutted mental path yet again, I wanted to take her hand and gently lead her away from her self denigration.

The romance mainly consists of Max telling Alice (yet again) how smart, intuitive, clever, and intelligent she is and how delighted he is for her to (at first) be helping him, then working with him, and then starting a relationship with him as all the while Alice can’t trust that it’s not just some way for Max to get her assistance and then end things. It’s a long, long road that the reader must travel before Alice believes. She’s written so that I understand her hesitation but yeah, it’s a lot of the same again. Her self deprecation is matched in a way by Max’s difficulty in forming a relationship with women who have only been interested in his poshness or the fact that he owns a large estate (although one that needs constant tending in order to pay the bills).

There is another relationship that bemused me – the one I mentioned earlier – and I remained this way until the end. One character hadn’t changed as much as Alice initially thought – which seemed realistic – but did show later signs of growth. Another character I could never understand their interest in the romantic relationship and don’t think it was either well explained or shown beyond “I’m in love.” It was a puzzle.

The ghost stuff was interesting, especially the first person reports of unusual sightings and experiences that had been sent to Max for his research. There is some closure in regards to one mystery that Alice and Max are trying to solve but another one that, to me, remained unexplained. Perhaps the last bit of info that Alice found partially solves this or maybe I just missed this.

I did like that Max shows Alice in a variety of ways (some of which were odd but still he showed her) that he finds her attractive and desirable – both physically, emotionally, and intellectually – just as she is. He’s kind, attentive, and thoughtful as well. Hmmm, maybe he’s a touch TGTBT but hey, who wouldn’t want a handsome Lord of the Manor madly in love with them? But I wanted Alice to start believing in herself sooner and I needed some closure on the “ghost.” B-

~Jayne

Mystery, mayhem, a manor house and a generous serving of romance…

When police knock on Alice Donaldson’s door at 4am, she knows the news won’t be good. There’s been an accident involving her ex-husband Grant, and as his existing next of kin, they need her help.

Grant is missing up on the North York moors, but the Grant Alice knew could barely be persuaded out on a walk around the block. What on earth possessed him to go on a hike in the middle of the night?

Alice soon finds herself working with Grant’s girlfriend Jenna and Jenna’s gorgeous ‘Lord of the family Manor’ brother Max, to find out what has happened, and what caused Grant’s accident at The Fortune House – the spooky house out on the moors.

The locals tell all manner of ghoulish stories about The Fortune House, which Alice is not minded to listen to. But before long, things take a turn for the strange and Max and Alice have a new mystery to solve. While all the while Alice can’t help hoping she might meet the requirements to be Max’s ‘Lady of the Manor’ at his country pile, Hatherleigh Hall.

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Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

→ Jayne

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ibxis

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