Occasionally I come across an author whose name I've known for as long as I've been reading romance, and recently I 'discovered' one of these, namely Victoria Holt, aka Jean Plaidy, aka Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellor and Phillipa Carr - real name Eleanor Hibbert. As you might suppose from all those pseudonyms, she wrote a lot of novels. And she did - over 2000 in fact!
Anyway, I picked up a copy of The Lord of the Far Island in a second-hand bookshop recently and, once I'd begun to read, I was hooked. It's a modern Gothic romance, rather derivative of Daphne Du Maurier, but none the less enjoyable for that. And, having raced to the end in a few days, I ordered some more of Victoria Holt's book online. These are the ones I chose and the blurb on the back convey far better than I could why they are so hard to put down even now, fifty years after publication.
Bride of Pendorric: Favel Farington and her new husband were almost strangers. In Capri, the dashing young heir to Pendorric had swept the lovely English girl into marriage with the sudden fierceness of a summer storm. Favel was dazed with happiness - until she discovered that someone was planning a very special place for in the family - in the vault with the other legendary 'Brides of Pendorric' who had all died so mysteriously and so tragically. 'Till death us to part' took on a new and ominous meaning . . .
The Curse of the Kings: Ever since she was a child, Judith Osmond has cherished a romantic dream - to marry Tybalt Travers, a brilliant archeologist, and help him make some wonderful discovery. So when Tybalt asks her to be his wife and go with him to Egypt in search of the Pharaoh's buriel chambers, her happiness seems assured. But once in Egypt her joy is short-lived. Here, in this strange, arid land, the rumours of misfortune and death that surround the tombs seem all too real. And gradually Tybalt changes. From a loving attentive husband he becomes a stranger - silent, watchful menacing . . .
On the Night of the Seventh Moon: Helena Trant has always felt a special fascination for the myths and legends of Southern Germany, where she is living. So, lost in the forest one day, she feels little surprised when a handsome stranger appears and leads her to safety - there is a Prince Charming in all good fairy stories. But this idyll suddenly becomes a nightmare. The passionate love that grows between Helena and her rescuer seems destined to inspire hatred, treachery, even murder in others. And, as Helena draws near to the source of the evil that pursues them, she begins to feel that there will be no happy ending to her story . . .
And with these deliciously lurid, 1970s covers, can you blame me for wanting more . . . ?