Circle of the Lily, by Jill Jones

>> Friday, July 15, 2005

I didn't realize until I had finished the book and was googling for the author of Circle of the Lily, Jill Jones, that I realized she also writes as Emily LaForge and that I read one of her books, Beneath the Raven's Moon.

Claire St. John lives alone near the grounds of Hartford Hall, a sprawling ancestral estate in the English countryside. One hundred years earlier, a strange death occurred at the mansion, one which begins to haunt Claire's otherwise peaceful life. And when she discovers a curious ring that once belonged to the lady of Hartford Hall, a dangerous mystery is set in motion.
When Michael Townsend, an American, rents Claire's guest house, she immediately senses the darkness around him, and can feel the almost tangible intensity of his desperate searching. Every instinct tells her to keep her distance, but she cannot deny her powerful attraction to him.

As strange and disturbing events unfold, Claire and Michael are drawn together as soulmates and lovers. But there are forces afoot that would keep them apart--forces as old as time itself. They must fight with everything they believe in to right the wrongs that were first brought about by a secretive group known only as the Circle of the Lily...they must lay bare their darkest secrets...and begin to believe in the love that can save all they hold dear.
Like Beneath the Raven's Moon, Circle of the Lily was frustrating and disappointing. A C-.

This seemed to be just the type of book I love, when it's well done. Supernatural almost-horror, with a (big) touch of the gothic and a lot of romance. Unfortunately, the supernatural was blah and the romance was badly done.

I don't know if I can pinpoint exactly what went wrong with the supernatural plot. I think it might have been the way Claire and Michael were almost never proactive here. The whole battle on the astral plane felt anticlimatic, being basically between black magician Delilah and white magician Lady Sarah. Our protagonists are in the middle of it, but it doesn't feel like their fight, really. And the couple of times they take some action, it's just them behaving stupidly, as when Michael goes to see Delilah to ask her politely to lay off. Any halfway intelligent person would have realized this was likely to cause the exact opposite reaction, as did Michael, but only too late.

And the romance was, well, there's that word again: frustrating. I just couldn't figure out this people's minds. They seemed to act, not according to some kind of internally coherent motivation, but according to where Jones needed the plot to go. And, sadly, this was back and forth, back and forth, and back again. Especially frustrating because the whole thing seemed to be so intriguing at first, with psychic Claire attracted to this man with the black aura, completely drenched in sadness and anger.

The worst part is that, for all that I found this book unsatisfactory, and that it's the second book in a row I've felt that way about, I know my weaknesses, and I know I'll probably end up buying at least one of this author's other books. They just sound so damned fascinating!

How about My Lady Caroline, with seems to be about a heroine who buys a manor to search for Lord Byron's secret memoirs? Or The Scottish Rose, which has a heroine who hosts a TV series that debunks supernatural clap-trap, and who finds herself searching for "Mary Queen of Scots' fabled jeweled chalice"? Or even Bloodline, about a present-day heroine investigating Jack the Ripper, after a string of copycat murders start in London?

Gah! Browsing at amazon to get the links for the titles above, I somehow seem to have managed to buy them all! As Màili says: headdesk!


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