I picked up Lancaster House by Taylor Dean from the Kindle Store on a whim. I read the synopsis and thought it sounded like an intriguing “haunted house” story – plus it had a cool cover. I must say, I was not disappointed with my purchase. Lancaster House had twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and an intelligent, reliable, logical narrator – which is more than I can say for most paranormal romance novels that I’ve read. Yes, I said romance.
Allow me to begin by saying: I’m not a huge fan of romance novels. As a matter of fact, I loathe most of them. Not because I’m a heartless ice king, but because most romance novels are trite, formulaic tales that lack imagination. Romance is a hard genre to pull off. However, I love when romance is expertly woven into a story – which is the case with Lancaster House. Is it a romance novel? Yes. But there’s so much more going on beneath the surface.
Zoe Grayson, central character of the tale, is a 25-year-old independent woman who has recently lost her father and fiancé – her father to death, her fiancé to infidelity. She’s decided she has to move on, and therefore purchases an old Victorian mansion with tons of quirks and architectural oddities – very reminiscent of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and its film counterpart Rose Red.
The Strongest Points of the Novel
The strongest points are easily the setting and the development of Zoe. The setting was very well done. Taylor Dean constructed a house so vivid that it was easy to conjure images of the old Victorian and all its hidden rooms and stairs that lead to nowhere.
Zoe was real to me. She was so well-developed, with her own morality, philosophies, talents and flaws. She was logical and never made decisions that seemed ignorant or out of context. And that’s really my biggest beef with paranormal romance novels (especially Twilight): the central characters often make decisions that are convenient to the plot, but make no sense logically. Zoe did not suffer from this flaw. Her flaws were real-world flaws – a sense of detachment due to the loss of her father, a lack of trust due to experiences with past loves, and so on. Not, yes I want to become a vampire but marriage is such a big commitment.
The Weakest Points of the Novel
There was only one thing I would have done differently in this book. And that doesn’t mean that Dean’s choice was a bad one, it just means all writers are different. And isn’t diversity a wonderful thing? The story is framed by Zoe living in a mental health facility and telling her tale to her doctor. The framework is in third person, which is fine. But when Zoe starts to tell her story, she begins in first person and trails off in an ellipsis. The next chapter begins as Zoe’s tale, but it reverts to third person. I just would have felt more immersed in the story had it been in Zoe’s own words.
But that’s just me.
Taylor Dean did a wonderful job in crafting Lancaster House. It brought me out of my element and got me reading a genre I’m not terribly familiar with. Bravo! This book was an easy 5 stars. I highly recommend it (only $2.99 on the Kindle store), especially for fans of romance novels. Well done, Taylor! I’ve already purchased the sequel!
About Taylor Dean
“Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding that she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of romance in her line-up.”
Taylor tells me she wrote Lancaster House because of an agreement with her daughter, who is a huge Twilight fan. “Mom,” she said, “let’s both write a paranormal story and see what comes of them.” Taylor was reluctant to try her hand at paranormal romance, but finally gave in. I, for one, am glad she did.