Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.
Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…
250 Years Later…
When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can't tell what is real and what is imaginary.
As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.
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In London, 1765 the philandering and abusive Lord Gerard becomes so enraged at his wife, Lady Isabella that he commissions a beautiful gold gown meant to kill her. When his plan fails, Lord Gerard enlists his Moonraker pal and Lady Isabella's maid, Constance to destroy the dress. However, both Lady Isabella and Constance become so enraptured with the dress that the task is never completed. Lady Isabella decides to escape the city and convalesce in Lydiard, away from her husband. The dress calls to her though, possessing Lady Isabella. In 2004, Fenella Brightwell takes a school trip to Lydiard. Fen has kleptomania tendencies and when she walks into a small room at Lydiard, she sees a drunken man in time period clothing staring at a golden dress. Fen is spooked, but before she goes the golden dress calls out to her- take me. Years later, Fen is out of an abusive relationship and has created a stable life for herself. Then, she gets a package in the mail. The golden dress has made its way back to her life with a strange message- danger.
The Woman in the Lake is an enchanting dual-time mystery that pulled me into the story just as the dress made its way into the character's lives. From the beginning I was engrossed with the puzzle of who the woman in the lake was and the importance of the dress. The narrative switched between Isabella, Constance and Fen's point of view tying together their experiences with the pull of the golden dress. While the dress enhanced the worst traits in all of the woman, the dress also seemed to make it possible for the women to rid themselves of an even bigger problem, the men in the lives. As Fen investigated the history of the dress, the similarities between herself and Isabella became apparent with a love of art and a knack for falling for abusive men. Constance was a very interesting character to me as it was not apparent as to where her loyalties lied, however, she was definitely the most clever. The golden dress was a character in itself; as I read about the qualities of the dress, I felt possessed myself as I felt the need to continue to read in order to unravel its mystery. I would have loved to know how exactly the power was created. Overall, a captivating story mixing history, mystery and a touch of magic.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over 40 historical romances and now writes Gothic time slip for HQ and Graydon House.
Nicola’s writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and by her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola’s addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher’s Weekly have described her as a rising star and her books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.
Nicola lives near Oxford with her husband and dog. When she isn’t writing she enjoys long walks in the countryside, singing in a choir and volunteering as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs.
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