Review: Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt

Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt
Release Date: republished January 7, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 322
Source: book provided by NetGalley for review

An overseas voyage. A cursed opal. Forbidden Desire.

Raised in the shadow of her family’s financial ruin, Jessica Clavering has never felt as though she fit in. When her only friend, an elderly neighbor, offers her the chance at a new life, she’s eager to take it. His only condition: she must marry her son, Joss.
The newlyweds inherit a fabled opal mine in Australia. It’s only once they arrive on the faraway continent that Jessica starts to uncover her family’s dark past and her connection to the Green Flash, an exquisite and spellbinding opal. The stone arouses a dangerous desire in anyone who sees it—even her husband.

 

Review: I loved this story as I do most all of Victoria Holt’s novels. The elements for a good Gothic Romance/Mystery are all here. The big mansion, the strange family secrets, arranged marriages, madness, murder, and of course romance.

Jessica happened upon a disabled man named Ben and helped prevent him from having a nasty accident. As a result the two of them forge a friendship. It has to stay a secret because Ben now owns the house that once belonged to her family. Because of gambling debts her family has come down a notch or two financially and there is a great deal of bitterness directed towards Ben. Jessica continues to visit the grand home until she is given a letter written by the mysterious “Jessica” buried on the property. What she finds out will rock her entire universe. Once she knows the truth about her family she never views the world the same way again and doesn’t keep her visits to Oakland Hall a secret any longer. But, when Ben becomes ill, he sends for his son, Joss and makes a proposal to Joss and Jessica they know they can’t refuse, although they desperately want to.

The motive behind Ben’s ultimatum has to do with a rare opal that has been an obssession for him many, many years. This jewel however, is rumored to be cursed and will bring back luck down on the person that holds it in their possession.

Now Jessica and Joss will be traveling to Australia and are supposed to be partners in business and as husband and wife. Jesscia and Joss aren’t in love and Joss apparently has a lover. This brings much fear to Jessica because she is afraid he will try to get rid of her so he can have the business all to himself and he will be free to marry whom ever he wishes….

The story is told from Jessica’s point of view. Jessica has always been a loner, so she has a fierece independent streak. I could understand everything she was going through. If I had been in her shoes I would have felt the same way. When Jessica was mad I was mad, when she was hurt, I felt her pain. I loved how she tried at least to prevent herself from being manipulated by the men in her life. Women weren’t give a lot of choice back then, so she had to accept some things weren’t going to go her way. Joss was a mystery to me for most of the time he was a part of the story. I was pretty sure he wanted things to be different with Jessica, but his pride wouldn’t let him just say what he was feeling. Instead he gives Jessica a few life lessons that are painful but eye opening to her. I don’t say I approve of his methods, but Jessica seems to respond in a way that helped them bridge the gap that was keeping them from really being a married couple.

Victoria Holt was one of the very best authors out there. She is one of my all time favorite writers and I really wish authors would write stories like this one again. There is no graphic language, nothing sexually explicit, and no graphic violence. The story is character driven and at times emotional . We are given insight into the sickness that is gambling, obsession and greed that leads people to commit crimes and hurt the people they are supposed to love and protect. This is just story telling at it’s finest. I am so glad some of Victoria’s novels are being released in digital format. While you can still find her novels in paperback swap stores or on Ebay or in the Amazon market place, they are becoming harder find and are usually expensive. These digital copies are very affordable and are well worth the price!

 

Julie