Setting: Clarksville, New Jersey, present day
Victoria Wells’ husband Rudy ironically died at sea the day she finally decided to consult a divorce lawyer. In the wake of this unsettling event, Victoria’s daughter, Carla, returns home from college, broke and broken from a disastrous affair. Rudy’s attorney, Burdine Spalding, hovers at Victoria’s elbow, much too solicitous for a financially impaired widow’s solicitor. To help make ends meet on her teacher’s salary, Victoria takes in a handsome ex-con boarder, Matthew, vouched for by Victoria’s co-worker.
Burdened with all this stress, Victoria wonders if she is imagining that a series of attempts on her life could be attributed to a single stalker. She does not trust Burdine, who is obviously and obnoxiously wooing her while lavishing gifts and favors on Carla. Victoria is much more attracted to Matthew, but she is not sure he can be trusted. A couple of seedy characters also loom and leer in the background as potential villains.
Author Christine Janssen engages the reader quickly in this edgy complex drama. Motives of the obvious potential villains are revealed to the reader early on, but these men cannot be ruled out as suspects until the reader is well into the book. This tantalizing technique compels the reader to keep reading to find out what will happen and whom Victoria can trust to save her heavily imperiled life.
Readers may want to shake rebellious daughter Carla, who is eager to play with fire and men who are far too old for her. Carla’s sexual attraction to men who are interested in her mother seems a bit far-fetched, but some readers may attribute this to her obvious naivety or her need for a replacement father figure.
The romance between Matthew and Victoria develops believably while the reader is kept on the fence (along with Victoria) regarding whether he is hero material. Matthew is impressively concerned about not blowing off his job or breaking his parole while coming to Victoria’s aid. These details are well researched.
Dog lovers should beware that a dog is unnecessarily and brutally killed in this book. Violence is gory, sex scenes are graphic, and language is occasionally crude.
Intricately and carefully plotted, Dark Legacy showcases Janssen’s considerable writing talent. Those who enjoy woman-in-jeopardy romances will want to keep a close eye on this emerging author.
ISBN: (trade paperback) 1-59088-918-5, (download) 1-59088-050-1, Suspense, Wings Press, July 2002
–Kristi Lyn Glass, Publisher, Gothic Journal