Monday, March 10, 2014

Castle Rock by Carolyn Hart

Carolyn Hart always tells a good story, no matter what genre she chooses to write. Castle Rock, written in 1983, has been reissued as a "Carolyn Hart Classic". This time, she turns her hand to romantic suspense in a captivating story of a young woman who knows something is wrong at Castle Rock.

Serena Mallory was only twelve when her parents died and Dan McIntire, owner of Castle Rock ranch, took her in as his ward. Once she was in her twenties, they often rode the New Mexico ranch, loving the landscape. But, everything changes one summer when "Uncle Dan" is killed in an accident. However, Serena heard him having an angry conversation the night before his death. With the atmosphere tense, suspicion of strangers, and the feeling that Dan's niece, Julie, doesn't want her on the ranch, Serena suspects that Dan McIntire's death might not have been an accident. And, when Julie, for the second summer in a row, eyes a man Serena is interested in, she doesn't know who she can trust with her suspicions. Everyone from Dan's relatives, to summer guests, to the ranch hands may have reasons to want Dan dead and Serena out of the way. It seems she's the only one determined to find a killer while protecting Dan's twelve-year-old grandson.

Romantic suspense novels are no longer as popular as they once were. And, it was amusing to see the difference in attitudes from the time this was written until now. At one point, Serena observes there was "Coors and wine for the ladies since Uncle Dan didn't believe in hard spirits for ladies." But, Serena Mallory stands out as a heroine in a romantic suspense novel, a strong woman determined to find answers.

Carolyn Hart's Castle Rock, with it's slightly exotic atmosphere on a New Mexico ranch and the orphaned heroine who doesn't know who to trust, is a perfect example of the romantic suspense novels that were once so popular. Sometimes, it's just satisfying to read an old-fashioned story with all those remembered elements. Thankfully, Seventh Street Books agrees since they're republishing some of Hart's standalones, those "Carolyn Hart Classics".

Carolyn Hart's website is

Castle Rock by Carolyn Hart. Seventh Street Books. 1983, 2014. ISBN 9781616148737 (paperback), 174p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

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