Who remembers the satisfaction of reading a good gothic novel? The heroine was always virginal, intelligent, but never left things alone. She always stirred the pot. The dark, brooding hero enters the scene sweeps her away to his mysterious home where unusual, even supernatural occurrences happen. Is it all starting to come back? The pleasure as you turned each page wondering about the lifespan of the heroine. Indulge your love for the gothic romance with New Concepts offering NIGHT GARDEN by Maggi Andersen.
The story opens with our heroine, Laura Palmer, considering her friend, Howard Farmer as a possible lover. As a forwarding thinking girl of the 19th century, she’s heard talk at the university about passion and wants it for herself. Maybe her desperation is born of the fact she knows she’ll be married off soon to an appropriate man. Then again, it could be because of the unexpected death of her twin sister making her want to take as much from life as possible. Whatever it is, Laura is always pushing the envelope, not sure exactly what she wants, but knowing it is more than she has now.
Lord Nathaniel Lanyon is not interested in marrying again, especially after the betrayal of his late wife, and the rumors that followed after her tragic accident. An occasional mistress and a willing widow is enough for this passionate man, until he meets Laura. He knows the invitation to the Palmer House by Lady Palmer is a setup. Still, he is intrigued by the tales of headstrong Laura. Once he glimpses the vibrant redhead, he knows she has to be his. Her reluctance to comply with his plan makes the plan so much sweeter.
The race to the altar is not the tale at all, but all the things not mentioned is the crux of the plot. Just like the Tarot cards Laura’s Aunt Dora displays; there is danger, adventures, lies, and possibly heartbreak, maybe love, but before Laura can read all the cards, her aunt gathers them up. Laura walks into her new life blind to past events, and even to those happening around her.
Even though she is passionately drawn to her new husband, he keeps her emotionally distant refusing to tell her where he goes at night. There so many unexplained things from his deceased wife’s room perfectly preserved, to paintings that hint at the former wife’s questionable behavior, to nightmares that hide more than they reveal, to a surly butler who seems to dislike Laura the moment they meet. Laura determines to uncover these mysteries. Hoping she might discover something to help her win her husband’s love if she doesn’t die in the process.
NIGHT GARDEN does a good job of portraying a couple who married while in the thrall of physical attraction, but knowing very little about one another. Maggi Andersen shows excellent insight in depicting Laura’s reactions to her husband abrupt and mysterious ways as a young, indulged girl might react. Who doesn’t cringe at the docile heroines of yesteryear who simply accepted their husbands’ pronouncements without a complaint? Laura is a heroine that more women can embrace. The settings enhance the story and give the reader the sense she is there with the couple so vivid are the details.
NIGHT GARDEN works well as a gothic romance. We have the previous wife dying in a suspicious way, the close-mouthed, but handsome hero, surly servant, threatening landscape, and a secondary character who knows more than she is willing to tell. Underneath it all is a combination of danger, passion, and the unknown. Often what you don’t know can kill you. The name Laura Palmer kept the image of the cult classic show, Twin Peaks, in my mind the entire time. I wonder if the author has even heard of it. NIGHT GARDEN and find out if this Laura gets her happy ending unlike the television one.