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Posted February 6, 2012
The Dark Rose
Louisa Trevelyan is working as a garden designer re-creating a historically accurate Tudor garden in Warwickshire, at the fictional Kelstice Lodge. After working for years recreating gardens that had fallen into neglect on private estates, this community program has really given her a chance to indulge her creative passion for garden design. It is there that she meets Paul Seaforth, 19 years old, who bears “an uncanny likeness” to her lover of years ago, Adam Glasslake. Though that relationship only lasted a few months, Louisa had been obsessed with Adam from the day she met him, an obsession undiminished with the years, which now translates into an affair with the much-younger Paul.
Kelstice is a project of Veriditas, a charity working with “at risk youth.” Paul’s presence is the “community service” to which he has been sentenced in lieu of jail time for his part in a crime committed by a mentor of sorts, against whom he has agreed to testify in court. For her part, Louisa also has a past which threatens her present. By unspoken agreement, they never discuss their pasts with one another.
Billed as a ‘psychological mystery,’ I found the novel to be more suspense than mystery, as the details of Paul’s and Louisa’s pasts are revealed to the reader only in small doses. The shifting p.o.v. and time frames were somewhat disorienting, but necessary, describing the earlier years of both protags bit by bit, building the anticipation, until quite near the end of the novel, when all the details are finally revealed, leading to a stunning climax.
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