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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Curse of Culcraig by Dawn Brown

The Curse of Culcraig by Dawn Brown
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (330 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

After a devastating personal tragedy, history professor Hillary Bennett seeks refuge in the quaint Scottish village of Culcraig, hoping to research a legend and salvage her career. Instead, she finds her hostess dead and her hopes for the future pinned to the woman’s black sheep heir.

The last thing Caid Douglas needs is a decrepit manor house to remind him of his estranged family, but he does need the money selling the house would bring to pay off his debts. In desperation he offers to honor his great aunt’s arrangement with Hillary—if she pays him to stay at Glendon House and view his ancestor’s journals, he’ll have the money to fix up the family mausoleum and sell it.

But an ancient curse hovers over the village, and the secret to lifting it lies in the journals. Will Caid and Hillary realize what they have and uncover the truth before a twisted killer silences them forever?

Will Hillary Bennet and Caid Douglas be the next victims of The Curse of Culcraig?

Hillary Bennet travels to Culcraig hoping to lose herself in the legend of Anne Black, a woman executed by a mob of villagers for being a witch. The truth of Anne Black’s execution and the curse on the village are supposedly contained in some journals in the possession of Agnes Douglas, a resident of Culcraig. Hillary arrives at Agnes’ house only to find the woman dead. Agnes’ death is ruled an accident, but Hillary isn’t so sure. There are those in the village that don’t want Hillary poking around in the past. Would they murder to keep the past a secret?

After Caid Douglas inherits the Glendon House from his Aunt Agnes, he decides to let Hillary stay at the house and look through the journals. He needs the money, and as a bonus, he knows it will irritate his estranged father, James Douglas. James believes that Glendon House is rightfully his, and he makes it clear he’s not going to give it up without a fight.

Hillary is thrilled to have the opportunity to look at the journals. Unfortunately Agnes never told anyone where she kept them. Hillary is faced with the daunting task of sifting through the mountains of junk contained in the old house. As she and Caid work together to clear out the old house, tension between them builds. Their attraction for each other is undeniable, but is it true love or just a fling? While Caid and Hillary try to sort things out, strange things start happening. Several residents of Culcraig meet with unpleasant “accidents” and someone seems to be trying to scare Hillary and Caid away. Will they uncover the truth of the curse before it’s too late?

Hillary Bennet is a woman with a troubling past. Once she was a happily married woman with a successful career until a tragedy of monumental proportions brought it all crashing down around her. Researching the legend of Anne Black is her last chance to salvage anything of her former life. A weaker person would have given up in the face of such grim circumstances, but Hillary is one tenacious heroine. Hillary isn’t sure what she’ll find in Culcraig, she’s willing to take a chance. Though Hillary’s courage is admirable, she is also very vulnerable in some ways. She’s haunted by events in her past that she struggles to put behind her once and for all. The combination of strength and vulnerability are perfectly balanced in Hillary, making her a very relatable heroine.

Like Hillary, Caid Douglas has a past. To say that his family is dysfunctional would be a huge understatement. Caid’s father is a bully and his mother is indifferent to him, caring only about exterior appearances. As a teen, Caid rebelled against his parents and their sham of a life. He tried to lose himself in alcohol and bears the scars to prove it. On the surface, Caid seems angry and moody, but underneath the rough exterior is a man who has rebuilt his life and is still struggling to find his place in the world.

I must also say that I found they way the dialogue was written in The Curse of Culcraig particularly enjoyable. “I dinnae wantae hear it…Yer going. Dinnae forget a suit. Do you have one that doesnae need pressing?” This is just a small sample of the dialogue. Since the story takes place in Scotland, most of the characters are Scottish and speak a certain way. Ms. Brown has captured their speech in such a way that I could actually hear the characters speaking in my mind as I read.

The Curse of Culcraig is a real page turner. It is full of spine-tingling suspense, interesting characters, and tons of romantic tension. Any fan of mystery and romance should pick up a copy today.