Friday, August 26, 2016

ARC Review: Devil's Cove by R.C. Matthews

Pub. Date:Aug. 29, 2016
Publisher:Crimson Romance
Length:300 pages

I got sucked in by the cover of this book, and thoughts of a creepy gothic tale. A spooky castle, ghosts and paranormal aspects, unique characters with dark pasts, and a troubled romance sound like a recipe for success. I was most excited about Devil's Cove Manor - the spooky manse that was the site of a gruesome tragedy where a mythical monster, known as the gatekeeper to hell, murdered the attendants at a grand ball. I love haunted mansion tales where the house itself becomes a character in the story.

The heroine, Grace, became a medium after she was blinded as a child. Wearing prosthetic glass eyes and communicating with ghosts has done nothing to endear Grace to the community of Devil's Cove, and many say she is mad like her mother. She quickly finds herself between a rock and a hard place - facing commitment to an insane asylum or a moving into the haunted manor that may really drive her insane. For all of Grace's battling good and evil spirits, she was on the naive side. I guess most of that can be attributed to living at a monastery most of her life. I really liked her companion and helper, Brother Anselm. While his religious nature came off as endearing and sweet, the same fervor from Grace made her seem sanctimonious and judgy. I wish I could have connected to Grace's character better, but there was just something missing there.

Captain Devlin Limmerick is a notorious pirate who has returned to Devil's Cove to claim his birthright. Devlin lived through horrors worse than any Grace could have imagined, and his physical and emotional scars drive his unyielding need for vengeance. Devlin was a quandary to me... he was caring one moment and placing Grace on a pedestal, and before you could blink he would be tearing her down and threatening to commit her to an asylum. His behavior gave me whiplash several times, and I found that I could not really get behind him as a hero. Even though I agree that his mother needed to be dealt with, I didn't like that he was so ready to betray those closest to him.

I did enjoy the gothic aspects of the story mentioned above. The haunted manse and spirit inhabitants were interesting, and some of the secondary characters were endearing. Josephine, the lamia and gatekeeper to hell was hit or miss... sometimes she was creepy and sometimes it felt forced.  Actually, I a good portion of the story felt forced to me, particularly the romance between Grace and Devlin. I didn't feel any chemistry between them, and I was hoping to feel more conflict from Devlin when deciding what was more important - his revenge plot or his saving Grace. There was quite a bit of content that was of a darker sexual nature in this book, but it seemed to be more for shock value than anything else. It didn't seem essential to the story and it just stuck out in the story like it was out of place. I found it odd that the sexual abuse and forced attraction aspects were more explicit than the intimate moments between the hero and heroine.

So while the story had good potential, it didn't live up to my expectations. It dragged in parts and I lost interest in some of the minutia, so I started skimming once I hit the three-quarter mark. I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.