I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I picked this up at a local church book sale over the weekend on a whim - I'd read and enjoyed one other Victoria Holt book, was interested in reading more, and the book synopsis sounded good. It sounded, in fact, similar to a favorite Phyllis A. Whitney book Window on the Square.
Indeed, the first third of this book read as though one author cribbed the plot from the other: orphaned, well-bred, but stubborn woman, forced to seek a position as a governess in a spooky old house, overseeing the education of a troubled young child, and waging a battle of wills against the broody but enigmatic master of the house. But Mistress of Mellyn deviates from Window; here the wife is dead but haunts those who remain, and from about the 1/3 mark the story goes off in a direction entirely its own.
I loved this book right up until the last 20 pages or so. Loved it. It was so easy to lose myself in the story... but those last 20 pages sort of let down the side. They almost worked perfectly, but either the author lost steam or the publisher felt parsimonious. I never bought Connon's sudden change of heart. In fact, I suspect it wasn't supposed to be a change of heart at all, but a slow growing realisation, but something was missing so it just felt like he flipped a switch. And the ending... oh man, that ending was good. I did not see that coming and it certainly put the suspense in the book's romantic suspense tag. But the motivation of the person (no spoilers) felt incredibly flimsy. I didn't buy it.
Ultimately, these things, along with an embarrassing amount of melodrama on the part of our heroine upon her rescue, dropped my rating down to 4 stars from the 4.5/5 it was heading for. It's still a very solid, enjoyable read, but it's not quite all it could have been.
Total pages: 254