Sunday, 21 March 2010

Singled Out by Trisha Ashley

****
Cass Leigh writes sensationalist gothic horror books, she's slightly odd with a penchant for velvet cloaks and walking in graveyards during the night. She finally realises that her long term married boyfriend, who she's been holding out for, is a rat and there's very few romantic options now available. Unfortunately, Jason, one of her oldest friends develops an unreciprocated crush on her and the mysterious Dante appears in the village after buying the ghost-ridden manor house that fascinates Cass. Along with a slave auction organised by the local vicar, which becomes a bit of a fight between all the men in Cass's life when love rat Max reappears, becoming a ghost in Dante's house, the need to write her sinister books and the ongoing worries of wanting a baby, Cass's life resolves itself and she finds her happy ending.
I have read a couple of Trisha Ashley's books and really enjoyed them, she generally writes interesting and not naff heroines under slightly strange circumstances and with a bent towards older chick lit readers (doubt her stuff appeals to the twentysomethings) - as you may have gathered from other posts, I've been trying to track down her earlier stuff and this is one of them (published 2003 - I managed to get a RiSi swap for an old library copy!) It clearly is an early one - it's shorter with fewer sub plots than her later books, but demonstrates her humour and quirkiness. However, in some respects I did feel it was trying a bit too hard to be different... Cassandra differs from the generic "chick-lit" heroine in several ways, she's 44, has a bizarre back story of religious freak father. This explains her horror obsession but became a bit extreme at times. She can also "mind-read", although the mind reading seemed to me to be only a short cut way of getting into Dante's character. As te book develops she also shows her desperation for a baby, which could have come across as sad, but Ashley just about pulls it off.
Dante of course is gorgeous, stern (back to my Darcy ideal!) with serious guilt issues and a back story, I wouldn't expect anything else! He's interesting and well written enough to maintain interest and the characterisation works with Cass.
At times some of the literary references and "authorisms" seemed to me to be a bit self-indulgent but overall it was self-depreciating enough to keep it light.  I still love Trisha Ashley, and although I think her later stuff is better, it's great to read her earlier work to see how it's all developed. Well worth a look if you're a fan and can get hold of a copy!