Author: Shannon Drake ISBN: 9781605420820 2/2010 HISTORICAL Publisher: MEDALLION PRESS
RRAH's THOUGHTS AND PONDERINGS:
Shannon Drake (also writing as Heather Graham) sets her historical romance EMERALD EMBRACE on the Scottish coastline in 1865 where Martice St. James arrives from the United States to find answers about her best friend Mary’s death. She shared the same last name as Mary’s married sister Margaret, and since both Margaret and her husband died during the civil war, Martise chances to portray herself as Mary’s sister and use Margaret’s title of Lady St. James in order to give herself a better standing to search for answers and the emerald Mary was keeping safe for her. Martise arrives at Castle Creeghan in the middle of a dangerous storm, only to find that Laird Creeghan can be as dangerous. Even though his wife has recently died, sparks fly at the merest touch of his fingers to Martise.
Although Martise seems to receive a warm welcome from the family and villagers, she is frequently warned about local deadly myths and ghosts that would scare any normal woman. Will Martise be able to find her emerald before the murderous ghosts that took Mary’s life take hers as well? Will Laird Creeghan be able to keep his own secrets from her, or will he simply overpower her with his dark seduction?
Drake employs a tremendous ability to create a dark, suspenseful atmosphere, from the ancient castle to its newest laird. The family includes cousins, an uncle, and the Laird’s sister Elaina, as well as mysterious servants that appear at a moment’s notice. The castle is scary with dark corners; secret passages; a multitude of rooms and a full set of crypts; wine cellars and chapel below the castle, near the water. In addition to the castle and its environs, Martise is confronted by mysterious deaths of women from the village, lights on the coast and in caverns near the full moon, and a pagan celebration at the time of All Hallows Eve. Wherever Martise turns, she is frightened by sights, sounds, and deaths. Throughout Martise’s search, the Laird haunts her with his seductions and satanic amber eyes. In addition, he knows that she isn’t really Lady St. James, and he’s desperate to know who she really is, and what it is she is searching for.
I was on the edge of my chair until the Laird’s secrets were revealed, and then I just worried who could be after him and Martise. His seductions are truly magnificent, and yet Martise still finds it hard to love him. She seems to me to be like a silly goose many times—nearly giving away her lover’s secrets, going places she shouldn’t, trusting the wrong people, not trusting the right people. She rushes headlong into danger after danger, and I almost hoped the “ghosts” would just get her and be done with her.
EMERALD EMBRACE is a perfect story to read on a dark and stormy night, though a sunny Sunday afternoon might have kept me from getting too scared. I love Drake’s pirate style stories and always learn something from them.