Review: Vexed anthology

Vexed by Erica  Ridley, Ava Stone and Elizabeth Essex
Series: The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor (# 1)
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Ava Stone Inc
Pages: 304
Source: book provided by the author for review



In regards to the Matter of the un-entailed Estate of the late-Jonathan Hambly, 10th Earl of Banfield, be advised that your attendance is urgently required at the reading of his lordship’s Last Will & Testament, to take place on November 1st of this year at Castle Keyvnor in Bocka Morrow, Cornwall.
Mr. Timothy Hunt, Esq.

When the late-Earl of Banfield’s distant relations descend upon Bocka Morrow, they’ll find gypsies, witches, pixies, smugglers, and one very haunted castle. And if they’re lucky, they might just fall in love while they’re there.

VEXED, The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor includes:

Erica Ridley’s Romancing the Rogue
When the new earl inherits, poor relation Miss Rebecca Bond must wed immediately or be out on her ear. The only man she’s ever loved is summoned to hear the will—but he already rejected her so soundly that they haven’t spoken in years. Yet who better than a rakish Viscount to teach her how to snare a gentleman who appreciates her charms?

Ava Stone’s Once Upon a Moonlit Path
Lady Cassandra Priske sees dead people…not all the time, but occasionally. When her family is summoned to Castle Keyvnor for the reading of her great uncle’s will, Cassy is more than terrified. After all, the castle is famous for its hauntings. But the very last person, dead or alive, she expects to find there is the rakish Lord. St. Giles. After all, she spent the last season hiding from that very man.

Elizabeth Essex’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Nessa Teague has never believed in the magic that swirls around her village like a fine Cornish mist. She’s never had need of it. Until the day Lord Harry Beck returns to Bocka Morrow and Nessa realizes there is nothing, including the blackest of magic, she won’t do to have him for her own.


Review:  The three stories in Vexed all have the Castle Keyvnor located in Bocka Morrow in Cornwall, England in the forefront of each story along with the death of the current earl.  The castle is considered to be haunted by many and is definitely dark with lots of rooms. The stories surround the reading of the will which is why everyone is visiting the castle whether they want to be there or not.  The stories are short and very quick reads with well defined characters and plots. After the three stories is the Earl of Banfield’s Last Will and Testament which was a nice touch since it was alluded to throughout the three stories.

Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley drew me in immediately and never let go. Rebecca is a poor relation who has lived in the shadows while living in the castle for many years with her great uncle after the death of her parents. She loves the castle and despises London but may have to return there if her uncle, the new earl, has any say in the matter.  She’s been in love with Daniel, now a viscount, since they were childhood friends.  He snubbed her twice while growing up due to the differences in their circumstances and has never looked back or has he?  When he’s invited to the reading of the will he can’t wait to get there so he can see Rebecca again.  There are twists and turns along with Rebecca living in the wrong century with all her talents that can’t be recognized since it’s only the early 1800’s!  The descriptions of the village, the lands and sea were vivid and made me feel that I was there.  There is some closure especially with the epilogue and the happily ever after I was hoping for but it only left me wanting more.  Ridley is an author whose books are in my TBR pile but haven’t yet hit the top.  I hope to change that shortly.

Once Upon a Moonlit Path by Ava Stone has Cassy seeing one of the ghosts that the castle must be known for – the angry man in black.  Her parents don’t want to hear about it and people are starting to think that she’s mad, but is she?  Her dog, Oscar, an intricate part of the story also seems to feel the ghostly presence.  Jack or Lord St. Giles, seems to be taken by Cassy and her father is by no means thrilled.  They steal away together when they can but it’s never enough.  Her mother seems to like the idea of social climbing if Cassy and Jack did get together much to her Cassy’s father’s annoyance.  There a quite a few twists and turns to the story and a happily ever after in the offing.  There is quite a bit of playfulness along with the darkness. The epilogue gave nice closure and some hints at the future.  Stone is a new to me author and I will be looking for more of her books to add to my always growing TBR pile!

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Elizabeth Essex is a quick paced story that takes place mostly in town instead of at the castle.  There is still magic throughout with spells and charms, the witches and gypsies and even the innocuous Allantide apple.  There is subterfuge, treason, people that aren’t whom they seem to be, the villagers, secrets, caves, cargo, smuggling, free traders, boats and battles.  Harry, a captain in the Navy and Nessa, the vicar’s daughter, have had a strong relationship from when they were young.  They haven’t seen each other in twelve years when Harry comes to the castle with his family for the reading of his great uncle’s will.  Time seems to stand still.  The attraction is still there but on a more adult level.  There is definite chemistry but each has so many doubts about the other and their roles.  Nessa’s father, the vicar, is not the nicest person especially where it concerns Nessa. There is a happily ever after and nice closure.  Essex is an author I’ve read before and enjoyed her books.  I look forward to reading more of them in the future and have added some to my always growing TBR pile.

Favorite Quotes:  Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley
“That can’t possibly be true.”  She stared at him in wide-eyed innocence as she reached the bottom stair.  “You’re the man and I’m the woman.  I could have sworn men were the only ones capable of making plans.”

Once Upon a Moonlit Path by Ava Stone
Lady Cassandra did laugh at that.  “He’s a little ball of fluff, and after you plied him with pheasant, I’m certain you’re his new best friend.”

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Elizabeth Essex
“I liked those days.”  They had been some of the happiest he had known. “I liked that girl.  She was rather extraordinary, as I recall.  She used to tease me quite unmercifully.  And beat me at those pony races.”