The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood

The Curse of Morton AbbeyBarbara’s rating: 3.6 of 5 Stars
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: 10/26/21
Period: Victorian
Number of Pages: 361

The Curse of Morton Abbey is Clarissa Harwood’s third novel, but it is the first of hers I’ve read. For me, it wasn’t a quick-paced, exciting read, but it was a slow and steady build to a tingling end. This is a book that was crying for an epilogue because the ending was just so abrupt, I found myself sitting there with my mouth open asking – Is this it?

Vaughan Springthorpe grew up in her father’s law office learning the law at his knee. The time spent in those law offices was the best of her life because her mother and sisters were dismissive, condescending, and full of criticism and pity for her. She was as good a solicitor as her father was, but, of course, at that time women didn’t become solicitors. When he passed away, Vaughan finished up all of his legal work for him and was then determined to find a job for herself rather than live with her older sister and mother. Wasn’t she lucky that the perfect opportunity presented itself in the form of Sir Peter Spencer? He hired her, sight unseen, to put his estate, Morton Abbey, into shape so he could sell it and she couldn’t wait to get started. Should she tell him she is a female? Maybe . . . later.

Morton Abbey is certainly an eye-opener for Vaughan. When she arrives, she finds a cold, forbidding, unwelcoming edifice populated with people who definitely do not welcome her. Granted, it is winter, and most places look stark and cold in the winter, but there is something more sinister about Morton Abbey. The door is opened by Bedford, the scowling, unwelcoming butler who reminds her of a specter hovering in the entry. Mrs. Wilson was the pink-cheeked, round-faced housekeeper who seemed more welcoming, but distrustful. Were they the only two people in residence? No, Sir Peter’s sickly brother Nicholas (Nick) Spencer was also in residence. Then, as the only bright spot, there is Joe Dixon, the gardener.

Somebody is trying to frighten Vaughan away, but she’s having none of it. She is steady and pragmatic and doesn’t believe in ghosts. Yet, the nightly crying – by a child is unsettling. Could it really be a ghost? Perhaps the ghost of Nick Spencer’s deceased child?

Vaughan perseveres in her task for Sir Peter as she makes friends with Nick and Joe. Still, everyone isn’t who they seem. What is going on at Morton Abbey? Why? The answer will surprise you as there is more than one villain.

I enjoyed the story, but I did feel it was a bit draggy in places and I found myself skimming. Then, there was the ending – it was just too abrupt, too quick. I always love an epilogue, but this book just begged for one – especially since I just didn’t buy the fact that the couple was devotedly in love if she could just leave as she did and he didn’t contact her for almost a year. No, the end was definitely dissatisfying for me. I will recommend the story as it was interesting – but I’m not recommending it as enthusiastically as I normally would. This story didn’t make me want to go back and read the previous books by this author nor did it make me want to seek out future books.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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