This Gothic novel was published by Lancer and is Ms. Morton's one and only, so far as I can discover.
It's an okay novel. I wouldn't advise knocking one's self out to obtain it. The cover art is beautiful: Young dark-haired woman dressed in black, hair upswept with ruby-red lips standing in profile with a white-gloved hand clasped to her breast. In the background is a gloomy hill on which stands a tall castle-like edifice...with the customary one lit window (sinister red). A full moon is rising amidst streaks of dark clouds above the ramparts, around which bats are fluttering. Sorry, I don't have a scanner. But this IS a gorgeous bit of cover art for the collector.
The story centers on Theodora "Teddy" Worth, a nice young girl who helps run her parents' exotic tobacco shop in San Francisco. One day a young Air Force officer happens to come in, looking for a particular tobacco. Love swirls up between them quicker than you can light and puff a cherry-wood pipe. ;)
Teddy and Frank Lang marry. The circumstances of their marriage is a bit strange initially, and after two years they move to Hope House, in New England. Hope House is a dark and forbidding (of course) estate owned by Frank's long-deceased parents. His paternal aunt [Maud] and uncle by marriage [Fred] raised him, and continue running the estate.
Teddy discovers to her chagrin that she's stepped into an unpleasant situation: Uncle Fred suspects Teddy of hating the estate and wanting Frank to sell it [hence Fred and Maud would be put out of "their" home of the past 25 years]; Mr. Parton, an ambitious real estate developer, hopes the Langs will sale so he can build another group of small middle-class homes; the Baxters also wish the Langs to sell Hope House and its ground so they [especially Martha] can extend their estate. Martha Baxter loves animals and calls their estate "The Menagerie."
Sinister accidents start happening to the Langs -- particularly to Teddy. The private pier at their little beachfront seems deliberately tampered with; Teddy sees the alleged ghost of a young woman whose father built Hope House in the 1860's; Teddy feels threatened by Martha and Frank's ex-girlfriend Felicia; she is also targeted for murder.
Mostly this novel is a "whodunit" or rather "whosdoinit." There is very little supernatural element in it, unfortunately. Also, Teddy becomes a bit too unhinged too soon, imo. There are no major twists or turns, and the ending is a bit "rushed."
The ending of the novel is gratifying, however.
One note of humor: The two highly dramatic scenes the author describes reads like what those old cheesey Gothic film scenes -looked- like.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd rate it a 3-star novel.
The characters as I visualized them:
Theodora "Teddy" Worth: Nancy Barrett [age 22]
Frank Lang: Joel Crothers [age 25]
Aunt Maud Arthur: Agnes Moorehead [age 50]
Uncle Frank Arthur: Gregory Peck [age 53]
Martha Baxter: Nancy Kovack [age 41]
Dr. Fielding: Robert Reed [age 37]
Felix Parton: Couldn't visualize him.
Hal Parton: Craig Slocum [age 23]
Felicia Morley: Tina Louise [age 24]
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