A TOUCH OF TERROR by Sarah Farrant


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A touch of terror? Well, the very merest touch. This is a chatty, comfortable gothic (mid-19th-century, seacoast-manor variety) with a sustained mystery, an ornate solution, a dippy villain, and a fairly subdued heroine. Her name is Laura, and she's the winner in a bizarre marital sweepstakes conducted by that elegant spinster, Ruby Merrick, on behalf of her invalid nephew Sir Matthew: the marriage is to be just a front for a bedside companion job at Merrick Mount, the ancestral home. All too soon Laura is married to Sir Matthew in an odd ceremony; the bridegroom is hidden, except for one gloved hand, behind bed curtains, and Laura, dizzy from potent spirits, is also forced to wear a glove. While Laura, puzzled by the living arrangements (Matthew lives alone with a servant in a separate house) and by strange visitations, is drawn strongly to her unseen husband, ""Aunt"" Ruby sketches in the family's unpleasant past. Then--enter Matthew's brother David and his wife, who, warns Ruby, are out to snag Merrick Mount. Laura goes along with a plan to simulate pregnancy to provide a Merrick heir (to be procured from the village's orphanage), but common sense prevails. She is then promptly trussed up and prepared for a plunge off the cliffs. All hands--including gloved ones--rally to rescue and explain Everything, just in time for the fire and Matthew's martyrdom. A cosy, cheerful period piece, far less dreary than most.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1979
Publisher: St. Martin's