Title: Haunting Flame
Author: Janice Bennett
Author Website: Janice Bennett
Genre: A Paranormal Romance Regency Novel
Publisher: A Cerridwen Press Publication/Ellora's Cove
What I Liked (Haunting Flame by Janice Bennett): Janice Bennett has written a story about a vivacious heroine who leads a cast of characters that feel more like friends than fiction. It is a sweet romance with a touch of adventure.
Callie is elated to see her childhood friend and crush, Tony, until she realizes that the Peninsula War and a crumbling estate have extinguished the mischief in Tony's eyes. She'd do anything to help him heal even though she knows the result will be his marriage to another woman. Thanks to the lingering spirit of Anne, Tony's spurned ancestor, Callie has just the plan to bring Tony back from the dead.
With the estate in trouble, Tony knows the best way to fullfill the promise to look after Callie is to marry her. Seeing her again makes him believe she deserves a man unbroken, but that makes him even more unhappy. And why is he jealous of the attention she's giving his long dead relative?
While the essence of the dialogue between characters rings true, it sometimes feels like the author struggled to maintain the syntax of the time period. And while the plot was not difficult to ascertain, watching it unfold was enjoyable. It should also be mentioned, for those who have a preference, that this story is a romance in a very literal sense and does not contain explicit or very erotic scenes.
Book Blurb (Haunting Flame by Janice Bennett): When Captain Anthony, Lord Lambeth, returns from the Peninsular War, he is crippled in both body and spirit. He has just inherited an estate in desperate need of repairs and no money to make them. He can’t stomach making the marriage of convenience his family urges on him, avoiding it by vowing to fulfill a promise to his dying friend to look after his impoverished little sister—by marrying her.
The lively Calpurnia Rycroft has worshipped Tony since they were children and is appalled by his depression. She agrees to an engagement to give him time to recover—though it will break her heart when he eventually marries someone more suitable.
The ring he gives her turns icy on her hand and a ghostly flame emerges from it. Callie realizes the ghost wants something from her, but is it revenge or help? The search is on to find the answers, but as Tony’s spirits improve, Callie sees her chance of love slipping away.
Book Excerpt (Haunting Flame by Janice Bennett):
“Oliver asked me to look after you—”
“Oh he did, did he?” she muttered.
“Of which I’ve done a deplorable job since my return. And since I must have a bride and I have no desire to seek one in London this seemed the obvious and sensible solution.”
“Obvious and sensible.” She directed a falsely sweet smile at him. “Let me understand you. You wish to marry me for the sole purpose of fulfilling a promise to my brother?”
He regarded her with a puzzled frown. “That and the other reasons I gave you.”
“To be sure. How forgetful of me. Oliver wrote me how your brother played at ducks and drakes with the Lambeth fortune. But do you truly think that marrying me will be less costly than hiring me as a companion for your mother?”
“Lord, you’re not going to be missish are you, Callie? I hadn’t thought it of you.” Abruptly his face clouded. “Or is it that you cannot bear the thought of being leg-shackled to the wreck of a man?”
She closed her eyes, tried to force her soaring temper under control and failed miserably.
“What I cannot bear,” she said through gritted teeth, “is to be married because you happen to find it a convenient solution to your momentary problems. Where will that leave us in a years time when you have recovered much of the use of your leg and your mamma has had her fill of my acid tongue?” She surged to her feet. “You may take your obliging proposal, my lord, and go to the devil with it!"