by Amanda Grange
In this fairly unsatisfying read, Susannah Thorpe discovers that she has inherited a house, but to attain it she must either marry or live in it for 30 days. Having no intention of marrying she decides to chance living there for 30 days even though Hairstairs House is reputed to be haunted. When she arrives she discovers that the house isn't haunted, but inhabited by three men who have another six months lease to live there. Since the house is huge and she doesn't mind the added company, she agrees to share the space with them. What she doesn't realize is that these three men have a hidden reason for staying at Harstairs House. No secrets can remain hidden for long at Harstairs House, not even the house's, and soon Susannah is fighting for the man she loves as well as her own heart.
This novel was too far-fetched for my liking and left me with more questions than answers. It was riddled with plot holes, and unnecessary plot devices. From the start we have a woman who is left a house by man who loved her aunt. The terms of the will are strange enough with the "you will marry or stay in the house." And when the will states "stay in the house" it means it very literally. Susannah must stay on the property, she can't even go into town. All supplies are brought to her etc. Why is this necessary? Why would the man want this? Then you have the fact that the house was supposed to be haunted, but it isn't and there isn't even a sign to why people think it is. What was the purpose? I can think of a few, but none were written into the novel. Then we have the even bigger question of Susannah's reputation. Will she even have one after living in a house for 30 days with three unmarried men? This is how the novel begins, and as it goes along the plot holes just seemed to get bigger.
Next we have characters who are not likable. Susannah is supposed to be smart, but she is constantly accepting foolish explanations for what is going on at Harstairs House. Our hero Oliver Bristow, starts out by trying to get Susannah into bed as a challenge just because he overhears her saying how she would never marry a man like him. He repeatedly calls her "plain." At some point he begins to think her not plain, but how and why this happens isn't really explained.
What is plain about these two characters is that they don't have chemistry, and their falling in love seems forced and a bit odd. We don't see into their heads enough. The action is well-paced, but it doesn't leave room for the romance. There is nothing that binds these two characters together except that they are both living together in a house and fighting to stay one step ahead of the law.
I could go on, but I don't want to waste more time on this novel. Grange seems to have a very good voice, but just hasn't written a good book in Harstairs House. Hopefully her next book will be more grounded in reality and populated with likable characters.
Bottom Line: A disappointing read all around.
“What would it be like to discover that house you inherited wasn't haunted by ghosts, but was hiding a dark secret?”
December 2007, 304 pages
Inheriting a house from a stranger was shocking enough. Then Susannah Thorpe learns that in order to claim her inheritance, she must either wed in a month, or else spend the next thirty days in Harstairs House - a place purported to be haunted. Not about to marry, she makes the arduous journey to her new home, only to discover that there's already a tenant living there: a broodingly handsome man named Oliver Bristow, who has no intention of leaving before his lease runs out-in another month. Now Susannah must share her quarters with her mysterious, rakish tenant-without falling head over heels in love.