Be careful what you conjure…
In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners—until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young lord peace, she will win her freedom.
Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve’s skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly—yet exceedingly handsome—gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren’t required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset’s ghost could be all too real…
A Dreadful Splendor is delicious brew of mystery, spooky thrills, and intoxicating romance that makes for a ghoulishly fun and page-turning read.
Oh my GOSH! This book had me enraptured from the very start. Victorian? Check. Spiritualist/Medium/ghosts? Check. Unexpected twists and turns from every direction? Check. There were several times I thought I’d figured out a bit of what was going on in the past from how people were acting towards Genevieve and their feelings about the bride to be, and just when I would think I had things all sorted out: revelation from the ghost herself! I, like Genevieve, kept thinking that this had to be some sort of weird peculiarity, with ghosts and such odd happenings. I didn’t see the ending coming, though there was never a point in time where I felt disconnected or as if what was happening wouldn’t have/didn’t make sense. Everyone has their motives, desires, and so forth, and as Genevieve’s maman would say, sometimes you need to let the heart fill in the rest. Absolutely adored Mr. Pemberton, and quite loved Genevieve. If you’re into Victorian fiction, Jane Austen but with a mystery twist… ah… this book is just perfection in so many ways. There was one point where I literally had to stop at a twist and just said, aloud, “WHAT?!” Cannot recommend this enough. Couldn’t put it down, and am still so sad that I finished it already.
Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯