Within the tangled vines of a forgotten garden, can a blossoming new love overcome an ancient evil that threatens both the living and the dead?
After losing her brother in the trenches of the Great War, Cecily James is a prisoner of Whitmore Hall, the respected but remote boys’ school where her brutish husband reigns as headmaster. With its forsaken walled garden, a hauntingly tragic past, and midnight footsteps heard from an unoccupied clocktower, it is a place where the dead are rumored to walk.
Whitmore Hall is a place filled with mysteries and as a ghost garden emerges from the sun-bleached soil, long-buried secrets cry out to be told.
When new teacher Raf de Chastelaine blunders into an impromptu seance, Cecily finds an unlikely and eccentric ally. In a world of discipline and respectability, barefoot Raf is unlike any teacher Cecily has ever met. With his tales of the Carpathian mountains and a love of midnight gardening, he shakes Whitmore Hall to its foundations. Could there be more to Raf than meets the eye? And as he and Cecily realise that their feelings run deeper than friendship, dare they dream of a world beyond Whitmore Hall?
As Cecily and Raf team up to unite long-dead lovers and do battle with an ancient evil that has long haunted Whitmore Hall, Cecily finds her chance of happiness threatened by her tyrannical husband. But is the controlling headmaster acting of his own free will, or is he the puppet of a malevolent power from beyond the grave?
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.
5 out of 5 (exceptional)
Set in the time between WWI and WWII, The Ghost Garden is an incredible tale that will capture your imagination and keep you turning the pages from the very beginning until the last word - and even then it will not be enough. You will be left wanting more, and as this says it is book one in the de Chastelaine Chronicles, I am very hopeful!
Set in an isolated school with a bully of a headmaster, and a meek and mild wife, this story immediately shows you there is more the Cecily than being 'Mrs Headmaster'. She has endured and survived, but now it is her time to thrive... although that doesn't happen without plenty of danger. I loved her acts of rebellion, small as they may seem, but you have to comprehend what she was living with. Those acts, however small, gave her the strength and courage to continue.
And then along comes Raf - blue-eyes and mischievous, infusing life back into the school and into Cecily herself. He is a friend first, never pushing for more. I loved hearing about his past as the story progressed. Their relationship had a naivety, an innocence, to it that was perfect. For all she was a married woman, Cecily was most certainly innocent in the ways of love, although Raf was more than happy to help out!
Mystery and intrigue wrap around this romance, giving you a fantastic read from a time gone by. I have never wanted for two couples (yes, you read that right) to get their HEA more than I did the characters in this book. One couple, I hope, has a peaceful time, whilst for Raf and Cecily, I hope for plenty more adventures to come.
A stunning novel that I heartily recommend!!!
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper's. Originally from the south-east, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking. Find Eleanor on Facebook www.facebook.com/eleanorharkstead
Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century. She has written extensively for publications including HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine, Who Do You Think You Are?, Your Family History, Real Crime, Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World. Catherine has spoken at venues and events including the Stamford Georgian Festival, the Bath Jane Austen Festival, Lichfield Guildhall, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, Dr Johnson’s House, Kenwood House, the Hurlingham Club, Godmersham Park, and the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen, starring Adrian Lukis, and has introduced the performance at venues across the UK. Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found cheering for the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog.