Charlayne Elizabeth Denney
Paranormal Romance Guild
Special Recognition Award
(Review refers to first edition)
Daniel Donnelly is reeling. His parents have died in a boating accident at their home in Texas. He is still trying to figure out what to do next when he gets word that his aunt Carol, his father’s sister that he has never met, wants him to come spend the summer with her. She has an estate outside of Emerson, near Portland, and as the story starts, he is driving through the woods in a storm. He is stopped first by a wolf who stares him down before taking off, then he is stopped by the local sheriff, Hale Davis, who, after finding out Daniel is Carol Donnelly’s nephew, escorts him to the front of the massive mansion, Timber Manor.
The house has not fared well. There are things that need fixing. Most of the house has sat closed off since Carol’s brother, Christopher, died and her other brother, Daniel’s father Michael, left to go into the Marine Corps and never returned. With Daniel’s arrival, Carol hired an army of cleaners, painters, and gardeners to rehabilitate the house.
Sheriff Davis stops by to check on his friend, Carol. He grew up working at Timber Manor, taking care of the horses and stable. He shows Daniel, whom he calls Danny, which Daniel dislikes, the stables and as time goes on, he and Hale begin a relationship that turns into something more.
There are nightmares, dreams that confuse and upset Daniel. As he signs the papers of ownership of the big mansion, the past of the people who lived there before his arrival threaten him with manifestations of very frightening things. Hale is worried his new friend and Carol are in deep trouble from forces he cannot see.
The Haunting of Timber Manor is just that, haunting. The usual trope of big house, old woman, haunts, and strange happenings with wolves involved could have been done so badly, as it has before. But F. E. Feeley, Jr. has managed to make everything very believable, from the reasons for the haunting (no, I’m not going to tell you) to the blossoming relationship between Daniel and Hale. Haunts are sometimes so wildly done that they lose the suspense and go straight for the gore and blood. Not so this book. The things that go bump in the night are thought to be figments of imagination until revealed to others in the house. Carol knows what is there, but she does not want to involve Daniel, and Hale doesn’t believe that haunts happen. Once everyone is involved and knows what is going on, it looks like it’s going to be too late.
I read this one in one sitting, riding the rollercoaster of emotions and twists in plot until the very end. It was a spectacular ending with so much going on that I ended the story and sat wanting more.
Feeley is becoming a force to reckon with, not only in the world of M/M stories, but also in the paranormal genre. The Haunting of Timber Manor is not a sexual story with a haunt thrown in, it is a haunting story with a romance going through it. And it is wonderful.