There are terrible secrets from generations past buried at Maidenwood. Medical student Julie Newcomb has returned to her family's decaying plantation—the site of so many painful childhood memories—to tend to her tyrannical grandmother, felled by a stroke. The fire of malevolence still burns in the cruel, despotic matriarch's eyes—yet, for Julie, a faint spark of redemption and second chances flickers in this hated, haunted place. But her hope—and her life—are seriously threatened by a nightmare reborn . . . and by the grim discovery on the lonely road to Maidenwood of the earth-browned skeletons of a mother and child.
This came to me as a recommendation by my friend Jenn and I really enjoyed it. I liked the flow and I liked the subject matter. The end was a wee anticlimactic and the "hero" was a bit of a jerk. Funny, I just found out today that Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters were the same person! I read an Elizabeth Peters book not too long ago and the male lead was a real jerk too. I wonder if all her men are like that? That could get old fast, but I am anxious to read another one of her books!
I am using this for romantic suspense.
I'm beginning to realise how far Barbara Michaels' later work departs from her earlier, more simplistic, romantic suspense novels. Once again, The Dancing Floor is not at all what I expected it to be given my earlier experiences with Ammie, Come Home and Sons of the Wolf. Though having said that, this isn't much different in some ways, just a more sophisticated version.
The MC, Heather, is following the English garden tour itinerary her late father had meticulously planned with her before his untimely death. The trip culminates in a visit to a private estate with one of the few original, unaltered gardens in existence. When she's rebuffed at the gate, she sneaks in the back, scaring herself stupid and getting caught in the process. The owner is an eccentric old man who decides fate has brought her there and convinces her to stay on to help him restore the gardens. This is all set in an English village related to the Pendle Witch trials, so there's a lot of superstitions and possible paranormal activity going on, and then a boy goes missing.
It's a good story, and I always enjoy the banter between Michaels' characters, but there are a lot of unanswered questions too. Heather's obviously got a lot of mother issues, but they're never explained. Neither are her nightmares. And the title of the book does not play into the plot at all. The Dancing Floor is mentioned 3 or 4 times in the book as another mystical location, but that's it.
Michaels decides to put the suspense in the romance in this book; she's got so many men making passes at Heather (a 'husky' MC whose love of eating is a constant source of one-liners - in a good natured way - throughout the story) and it's not until the very end that anyone is declared the love interest. And I do mean the end, as in the last 3 pages.
Not one of her greatest, but a fun book nonetheless.
I read this as my final wild card selection in Halloween Bingo. I'm using it for the Fear the Drowning Deep square.
I'm reading this one for the 'Suspense' square, but it would also fit 'Southern Gothic'.
I enjoyed the buddy read from a couple of years ago where we read Michaels' Ammie, Come Home, so thought I'd read another of her books this year.
At the moment we're still at the scene setting and character introduction stage. Dilapidated old house, overgrown gardens, crotchety matriarch, a broken love affair.... well, you get the picture.
I think I'm going to enjoy this one.