"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair."
having been released from a mental institution, Beth Gregory moves on with her life and one of the steps she takes to do that is to get employed. she is hired as a live-in secretary/PA to tthe reclusive and wealthy painter Josh Warrington. yet not everyone is as welcoming as her employer at Holly Lodge mansion. someone in the shadows is stalking her and her visions of murder are getting more frequent.
as a whole, i liked the novel. author Annette Gisby has the skill to create characters that could either endear them to you with their virtues or annoy you with their flaws. there is Flora, the housekeeper, who gets on Beth's case before she even steps inside Holly Lodge. there is Sylvia, Josh's agent, who glares at Beth with contempt and jealousy. there is Andrew, Beth's brother, whose behavior is quite incorrigible. there is Sarah, Beth's aunt, who raised her and her brother after their parents died. then there is Josh with his charm and artistic temperament. there are other players as well whose roles take on significance as the story progresses.
from the get go, the mystery/thriller/suspense elements are clearly drawn and sustained throughout. i cannot say the same thing with the romantic angle though. it felt rather thin. for sure, the fascination Beth felt for Josh the minute she laid eyes on him were crystal clear and her internal monologues give her away. Josh's feelings, on the other hand, are veiled until he articulates them much later. i just felt that the way it advanced from attraction to love lacked enough heat, depth and passion to be labelled romantic.
i also find Beth's frailty and aptitude to faint a bit excessive. it is understandable but only to a certain point. after all, she was a former patient in a mental hospital and sees visions of murdered victims most of the time. still, it could have been toned down a notch. readers already know what she went through and was going through. her fainting spells would have been more at home in a Victorian era setting rather than a contemporary one.
two more things that kept me in the dark the whole time - Alice, Beth's best friend and Julia, Josh's niece. there were critical events involving these two yet after they transpired, no more further details and explanations were forthcoming. i wanted some closure but did not get any.
however, the last remaining chapters got me excited as the whodunit and whydunit parts were disclosed. the revelation may be a tad predictable perhaps but the way it was laid out was acceptable for me. it was the epilogue, though, that i really loved. after everything that Beth went through, what was in store for her in that section clinched the deal.
this is the second book written by Annette Gisby that I have read. regardless of the few points i raised here, i had my fill of being entertained and that is sufficient motivation on my part to look forward to reading more of her works.
*Review copy provided via Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.