Joanna Challis - Author website
Laura assumes the identity of Anne Woodville to win a post inside SILVERTHORN so she can discover the truth about her murdered cousin.
I felt strangely uncomfortable without his presence next to me. The faces of the past three mistresses of Silverthorn came to haunt me. I recognized a faintly amused Madeline, a concerned Danielle and a mocking Olivia. I tried to push their images from my mind but they wouldn’t go away. I saw Madeline sitting in the chair by the hearth… dressed in her nun’s habit the night of the ball… the night of her death. She appeared calm, her hands interlocked in front of her belly. “Madeline?” My puny voice barely echoed in the silence. She frowned at me. “Beware of those closest to you…” Before I could ask more questions, she vanished. I rushed to the connecting door. I didn’t want to be alone... I didn’t want the doubts.
by Joanna Challis
Setting: 1800s, England
Published: November 2003
Laura Morgan hopes to unlock the secrecy surrounding the death of her promiscuous cousin, Madeline, mistress of castle Silverthorn. Disguised as governess Anne Woodville, she accepts a position at the castle from Lord Justin Braithfield. While caring for her mute niece and Braithfield's children, she begins to unearth the dark mysteries of the castle. Laura fears that Justin is responsible for Madeline's murder, yet is drawn to him. His sudden marriage to the ambitious Olivia forces Laura to fight her attraction.
Laura's search for the murderer is hindered by Silverthorn's assorted inhabitants. Lillian, who is cursed with the legendary Braithfield madness, resides with the ghosts in the castle tower. Vincent, infamous for seducing the previous mistresses of Silverthorn, blatantly pursues the new mistress. The housekeeper, who lurks around every corner, issues dire warnings.
SILVERTHORN, a mesmerizing tale, is true to the gothic genre. Challis cleverly draws the reader into a romantic world filled with unforeseen twists. The story, rich in detail, is complete with all the elements gothic lovers expect. (May, 338 pp., $11.95)
—Susan Mitchell, ROMANTIC TIMES
SILVERTHORN is a sweeping novel set in England during the late eighteen hundreds. Ms Challis’ style of writing is reminiscent of Victoria Holt in the scope and subject matter, as well as location and descriptions. Ms Challis does a phenomenal job drawing the reader into the time period, as well as sucking them into the mystery she unfolds for their enjoyment. I must admit, I was awake until one in the morning because I had to finish the book and find out the identity of the murderer. I recommend SILVERTHORN to anyone who enjoys reading Victoria Holt, or simply enjoys a good historical mystery.
- Cat Cody, Romance Reviewer for Romance Junkies www.romancejunkies.com
"Written in the style of Victoria Holt, Silverthorn is the perfect blend of romance, mystery, deception, and murder. Joanna Challis has captured the true essence of the gothic romance. Silverthorn is a compelling read to its satisfying conclusion." -- Irene M. Pascoe, author of SHADOWS.