Review of STONEVIEW ESTATE by Leona Karr
Harlequin Intrigue #900, February 2006
Reviewed by Cathy Richard Dodson (see her website)
Brian Donovan wants to clear his father's name of a decades old murder, and when Robyn Valcourt's rich grandmother decides to hold a reunion for all the previous owners of the mansion, a perfect opportunity presents itself. Brian, who comes to Stoneview Estate undercover, has no idea he'll fall for Robyn before he even begins to figure out who the murderer is.
Robyn, whose parents died when she was young, had planned to spend her summer at a condo by the ocean, not planning a party for her grandmother, while she goes traipsing around the world with the jet set. But she'd used to doing what her grandmother wants, so why should this summer be any different. When she meets Brian, however, the summer definitely takes a turn for the better. Except, that is, for the sinister warnings that keep popping up at the estate telling them to cancel the party. Thank goodness she has Brian there to help her stay calm.
Brian, a detective by trade, meets and talks to everyone he can about the nanny who was murdered years before, shortly after a kidnapped baby was returned to the previous owners of the estate. Robyn, in the meantime, keeps busy doing her grandmother's bidding to get the house ready, including taking care of unexpected guests who keep popping up early, one, in fact, the kidnapped baby, now a 12-year-old, intent on playing Nancy Drew to find out who her kidnapper might have been.
But sparks fly when Robyn's grandmother returns and, curious about Brian, discovers the real reason he's on the scene. Will Robyn finally break from her overbearing grandmother and go after what she wants, or will she once again put her own desires on the back burner? Will Brian find his killer and clear his father's name, or will Stoneview Estate hold its secrets forever? The answers lie in the novel's final pages.
I love a good Gothic better than anyone, but I felt a little betrayed by this one. The house isn't really that spooky--it's old, but it doesn't 'feel' old, and while the mystery kept me guessing, I didn't feel any real fear or threat to Robyn, the herione. The outcome, all in all, was predictable.
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