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The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith (2014, Dark Seductions #1) ARC Review

The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith (2014, Dark Seductions #1) ARC ReviewAuthor: Lauren Smith
Title: The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall (Entangled Select Otherworld)
Series: Dark Seductions #1
Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 280
Release Date: 2014-09-29
Genres: Paranormal Romance
A thrilling gothic romance from Entangled’s Otherworld imprint…To defeat a dark evil, they must face his family’s past…Bastian Carlisle, the Earl of Weymouth, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history. Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.
Format: eARC
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*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

THE SHADOWS OF STORMCLYFFE HALL is a 196 page book about an American historian named Jane who travels to England to complete her dissertation about a legendary curse on an Earl’s castle. She has become obsessed with it and has an unnatural attraction to the location. Once there, she meets the current Earl of Weymouth, Bastian. They both experience weird and frightening things, proving that the curse is real.

THE SHADOWS OF STORMCLYFFE HALL begins with a prologue about Jane and Bastian’s ancestors. Normally, I am put off by prologues because they are usually unnecessary or information dumps. The prologue in this story, however, was short and attention-grabbing.

Throughout the story, Lauren Smith makes excellent word choices to create atmosphere. It is easy to visualize the characters and the setting.

Overall, the tense and point of view are consistent and well-executed. I only noticed one place in the story where there was a little “head-hopping.”

The plot is predictable with few surprises, but is sound in its design. Lauren Smith writes very well. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the climax of the book. It seemed to be a lot of rehashing of things the reader already knew, especially in the scene where Cordelia tells Jane what she wants and what she has done in the past.

By my personal standards, less than 200 pages is a novella not a novel, but I know not everyone makes this distinction. It’s either a long novella or a short novel, depending on how you define the two. Either way, it’s short because it doesn’t have any subplots. Some readers might like this, some readers might not. Personally, I thought it was fine the way it was. It’s a straightforward, quick read.

Conclusion: I enjoyed reading THE SHADOWS OF STORMCLYFFE HALL. It borders on erotica, but I didn’t find it distasteful. The best part of the book is the rich imagery. The worst part is that I was creeped out by the revelation that Bastian and Jane are related. I had already figured something like that was going on and I  know they are very distant relatives, but it still bothered me. I told my friend about it (explaining that they only share one very far-removed ancestor) and she also said, “ewwww!” So, I’m not the only one. To some people, family is family, and it doesn’t matter how far back the ancestry.

Still, I would read more book in this series. I would recommend it to readers of paranormal romance, gothic romance, and (possibly) regency romance.




Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

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