Lady Anne is not the typical "lady" of the late 1700's. She tried to be the hair-brained, I-need-a-husband lass, but when her fiance dies, it is a blessing for her. Having been left a considerable amount of money by her paternal grandmother, she decides she would rather be single and not have to hide her intelligence and quick wit. Not being a beauty, she doesn't have to worry about fending off any would-be suitors.
When Lydia, a dear friend and her deceased fiance's sister, writes her and begs her to come, Lady Anne immediately responds. Lydia hinted at there being mysterious things going on at Darkefell Castle and the possibilities of a werewolf. Unfortunately Lydia fails to tell the rest of the household of Lady Anne's imminent arrival.
Since there is no carriage to take Lady Anne from the post house to the castle, and it is nearing dusk, she sets out on foot. As darkness descends, she hears a howl and a woman's screams. Trying to find the woman in the dark seems futile, until, as luck would have it, she stumbles over her body - but it is too late. She continues to make her way to the castle and arrives, unannounced, covered in blood with questions already arising.
The Marquess of Darkefell is a brooding handsome man who finds Lady Anne to be very bothersome. She insists on prying into his family's secrets - secrets he wishes to remain hidden. At the same time, her seemingly unflappable resolve and calm around him has him mystified. He has never met a woman who has been immune to his charms. He is also entertained by her quick wit and intelligence.
I highly recommend this book. Donna Lea Simpson's writing style is very engaging and draws you in immediately. She gives great descriptions of both countryside and characters.
She had dressed her bonnet with some of the purple tulips from her crushed bouquet, and as they nodded above her shadowed face, she looked both absurd and oddly adorable. He glanced at the path then back at her. It was true her nose was a little too long and her chin too pointed. There was a faint equine suggestion about the nose and generous mouth. Her color was good, though, and her dark hair glossy; she glowed with health and vivacity. (from Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, p 207, uncorrected copy)
"But cultivated gardens have their place, my lord," she said, ambling toward the eddy, a swirling, shadowed pool at the base of the waterfall. She stood on a humped hillock of moss and stared, admiring the sparkle of sunlight on the drops that scattered as a rivulet hit a rock. Mist billowed from the force of the falls and bedewed her cheeks. (from Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, p 215, uncorrected copy)
You can almost feel the tension that Lord Darkefell feels when he is around Lady Anne - and her optimism in the face of crises abounds. I really enjoyed Lady Anne and am glad that I will get to read more of her in the future. Donna Lea Simpson has two more books coming out with Lady Anne - Lady Anne and the Ghost's Revenge and Lady Anne and the Gypsy Curse.