Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!
Well I do love a good Gothic mystery. Though this is set in contemporary times, Hilton does a great job of evoking the mood of many a Gothic novel. I definitely know that at times I wanted to shake the heroine in this one (Thomasina Ryder known as Tom to her friends and family) because she does some things that must be written down in a Gothic novel that every female character must do. We of course have the warning signs about the love interest, a dark and spooky house, and a mystery that threatens to tear the lovers apart.
"The Looking-Glass Portrait" has Tom returning from Seattle to settle her grandmother's home. One wonders why Tom was left the home since her mother, brother, and sister still live in her hometown. When Tom eventually starts to see and feel things while at her grandmother's home, she starts to become scared the house is haunted. On top of that, Tom starts to fall for an old love (Steve Angelotti) as well as wonder about the events that led to her father being murdered and how those events are what kept Steve and Tom from being together when they were younger.
I thought Tom was a bit hard headed and I also gave Steve way too many benefits of the doubt while the story progressed. I do think that Hilton did a great job developing her and the other characters in the book. As another reviewer said though, there was a bit too much character development that ends up dragging the story down at times. I can say though that I could picture Tom's family very well and you end up sympathizing with her when you see what she has to deal with regards to her mother.
I felt kind of meh towards Steve though. Will say I often feel that way towards a hero in these type of books. It's because the author has to write the hero as possibly bad, so you don't know which way the story is going. I will say though that Steve felt kind of there after a while. I didn't know what he saw in Tom, but I saw what she saw for him. I just think it needed to be more even.
The writing was very good though the pace could have been improved. I think at the 50 percent mark the book started to drag for me. Probably because we have Tom being freaked out by the house and having her investigate her father's death while dealing with her family was a lot to work through in this book.
The setting of the old home was great though. I could picture the house, the bedroom that Tom slept, and every corner of the home.
The ending was very strong and you get some mysteries resolved. I saw a lot of reviewers noting this writing was similar to authors such as Barbara Michaels. I don't know how true that is, since I haven't read a book by her before, but I have to say this book does remind me of some of the Gothic romantic suspense books my mom read when I was a kid.