Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Julian Clere isn’t sure how much trouble he’s in thanks to a brewing scandal, but when his aunt strongly suggests retreating to the country for the holidays, Julian doesn’t have much room to argue. Helping a distant relation get his newly inherited estate in order isn’t Julian’s idea of a good time, but it’s work he can do well and it will allow him lie low until his problems in London blow over. But upon arriving at Moorcliffe Hall, Julian realizes the work will be harder than expected. The place isn’t a crumbling ruin, but it’s close, and there is something …wrong about the place, something sinister.

Lord Hugh Bingham, Earl of Excombe, isn’t sure what to do about his new arrival. Julian seems eager to help, but the house and the estate are a disaster and Hugh is struggling to make any headway with the hundred and one problems that require his attention. Hugh used to love Moorcliffe Hall as a child, but now it’s suffocating under dark family secrets and an evil lurks in the shadows that Hugh doesn’t fully understand. With Julian at his side, Hugh knows it’s time to force all those secrets into the light and that doing so might help them make Moorcliffe Hall into a home.

Julian and the Ghosts of Moorcliffe Hall is everything you want from a delightfully Gothic romance. Filled with ghosts, dark secrets, and a stubbornly determined couple, the novel was enjoyable from start to finish. As a general rule, I don’t usually love Gothic-flavored romances, as they lean toward the melodramatic, but Julian and the Ghosts of Moorcliffe Hall strikes the perfect balance between angst and hope without ever seeming excessive. Additionally, the book does contain themes relating to suicide, so please be forewarned should this be a triggering subject for you.

Julian and Hugh are a fantastic couple, neither of them quite what they seem and yet both a perfect balance for one another. We know that prior to coming to the country, Julian has, thanks to some youthful indiscretions, become entangled in a potential scandal, one that could ruin his social standing or see him doing hard labor in prison. But while coming to Moorcliffe isn’t his idea, he is genuine in his desire to help restore the old place to its former glory. Hugh is gruff and duty-bound to a fault, but he neither knows how to ask for help nor how to accept it until Julian comes along. Hugh’s family ties to the house are dark and painful, but he only wants what’s best for his tenants and household. Together, these two are a force to be reckoned with and it makes their romance believable, if somewhat fast moving. The secondary characters are equally strong and several of them nearly upstage Hugh and Julian with their vibrancy and definition. There are a few times, towards the end of the book, where the pacing stumbles ever so slightly and I found myself wishing things were a bit tighter regarding the flow of the story. But these instances were brief and never felt sloggy to the point of impacting the overall plot.

Julian and the Ghosts of Moorcliffe Hall was a wonderful read and, aside from a few minor pacing issues, I found the novel held my attention and drew me in on multiple levels. The characters were engaging and easy to like and I loved the emotional layers to their relationship. Despite its darker themes, there is plenty of hope to be found and the book never feels lost to doom and gloom. Consider this one highly recommended!