A Lover's Kiss

The Ashcroft Curse by Maria Greene
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-8217-7523-5
The brilliant repartee and high society manners that often define Regency romance seem to be missing in The Ashcroft Curse. It’s a sweet story about an intelligent young woman, Jillian Ashcroft, who believes that an old witch seeking revenge for thievery has cursed her family down through the ages. The curse takes one member of each generation of the Ashcrofts and kills them off in a horrible way.

After her father’s untimely death following the discovery of the cure for the Ashcroft’s curse, Jillian feels that it is more than her duty to find the cure and save the rest of the Ashcrofts, it’s also her life at stake as she could be the next one to fall victim to the curse.

In order to end the curse, Jillian must recover a magical stone that holds all the power of the witch’s family, the Endicotts. And what better way that by blackmailing the fiancé of the Endicott heiress into securing an invitation to Endicott Keep?

But, when Jillian arrives she can’t help but befriend Laura Endicott, Sir Richard Blackwood’s sweet fianceé, even as she plans to steal her heirloom necklace. Sir Richard can’t seem to decide if he hates Jillian for making him part of her crazy scheme or if he feels something more tender for her.

The story line is interesting. I mean, how hard can it be to steal the necklace from the neck of a sweet girl whose ancestor happens to be an evil witch? But, while the story is interesting and keeps the plot moving, the characters are somewhat strange. None of them seem to change and they don’t really act or react to shifts in the plot in any plausible way. Sir Richard, for instance, will bounce dramatically between hating Jillian for deceiving his fianceé and blackmailing him and kissing the daylight out of her. And Jillian herself seems to be an anomaly because while she confesses that she likes Laura Endicott very much she does almost everything in her power to deceive and steal from her.

All of the characters seem to have gratuitous emotions and conversations that in the end lead to nowhere. So, as a reader, I became quite confused over what the point of introducing a certain thought or idea. It’s horrible to be reading a novel and think, “Why?”

While the author tries very hard to justify Jillian’s actions, I just didn’t like her, and felt that the justifications the author used fell flat and seemed very shallow, making it virtually impossible to identify with her main character’s decisions - which is the death blow for The Ashcroft Curse. Perhaps the only character I could like is Laura, the sweet and charming one, and even she is somewhat banal as she comes across as the naďve victim.

In fact, I quite wonder what Sir Richard sees in either of them.

--Nadia Cornier

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