Book Review: The Vanishing at Loxby Manor


Abigail Wilson

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 26th January 2021
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

Disappearances, strange activities in the night, and secret organizations abound in this mysterious Regency romance.

Haunted by the assault she’s kept hidden over the past four years, Charity Halliwell finally has a chance to return home to the quaint village she left more than five years before and the happy life she wants so badly to reclaim. All she needs is good conversation with her old friend and an opportunity to find a governess position, and she can leave the fear and guilt behind. But the family who agrees to her yearlong visit turns out to be a far cry from the one she thought she knew, particularly when her friend disappears and the one man she made certain would not be at the house is forced to return. How can she possibly heal and claim her independence when day in, day out she must face the only gentleman who ever held a piece of her heart?

Piers Cavanagh was branded a coward when he failed to show up for a duel he arranged. He had his reasons, of course, but disclosing them would hurt far more than continuing life as an outcast. And worse, with the mysterious departure of his sister, the strange nightly occurrences in the ruins of an old abbey, and the uncomfortable whispers of a secret organization, Piers must overcome his aversion to society and work with the last person he ever thought he would get the chance to speak to again—the girl whose heart he had no choice but to break.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

CWs: past sexual assault

For what I am going to say in this review, 2 stars may seem quite harsh. But, if we are going strictly by Goodreads’ descriptions of its ratings, then it is what it is. I neither massively liked or disliked this book. It was okay. Thus, 2 stars.

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor is a historical mystery with a side of second chance romance, so I thought, yeah, that’s for me. And it was an entertaining enough read, if verging on melodrama. I read it quickly, I didn’t feel like I wanted to stop reading.

I just didn’t feel a whole lot, overall, though.

In the novel, we follow Charity, who has just returned to England from Ceylon in the aftermath of a sexual assault, and who is now to spend a year with old friends, the Cavanaghs — Piers, her old love, Avery and Seline, her best friends. Only, within a few hours of her arrival, Seline goes missing, apparently eloped, and Charity and Piers are the only ones who believe all is not as it seems.

Let’s start with some positives first up. The mystery is nicely compelling, drawing you into the story and along with it. That was probably what kept me interested in the book, really. The set up intrigues you, and you keep reading to find out just what’s going on.

And if you like second chance romances, there’s a good one in this. They tend to be hit and miss for me, in all honesty. If it’s the focus of the book, I’ll like it. If it’s not — say if it’s a secondary plot to something more major, like here — I often find myself getting bored. What was good here though, for me, was that it was nicely integrated into the mystery. I never found myself wishing they’d skip the romance scenes in favour of getting on with the mystery, because they were well combined.

So, why didn’t it work for me?

I think my main problem was the writing style. The speech, with all its regency trappings, seemed fairly clunky and unrealistic at times. Mostly it didn’t matter, but from time to time, I found myself jolted out of the story. And the plot itself, as I said up top, tended towards melodrama. It wasn’t a bad plotline, it was just a plotline I struggled to believe in, I guess.

But, if this sounds like your kind of book, I would definitely suggest you ignore my review and read it anyway.

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