Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: Peril at Blackstone

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Peril at Blackstone

Author: J.H. Rhodes

Publisher: Avalon

Date: 1984

Length: 182 pages

Quote: “And even this far away, the dark stones that had given the house its name were noticeable. Blackstone...was what the Fairchilds had called the old house.”

Kelly Morgan is twenty years old, has red hair—oh excuse me, “titian”--and green eyes (the cover artist forgot that), and has rarely been out of Indiana, when her father encourages her to apply for a secretarial position working closely with a rich old friend of his. The friend, who's bought Blackstone Mansion, has “sons. One was married and the other single.” Though only “a very opinionated girl,” Kelly's not too frivolous to figure out what the two older men are really hoping will happen, and...what'd you expect? This is a romance novel. It happens.

There is, however, a certain amount of “peril” inherent in being wealthy, and before marrying the heir to the wealth Kelly has to prove that she's fit to survive it. I'm not convinced that any reader would ever for a minute doubt how the story's going to end, but I will give Rhodes credit for stretching the plot with an acceptable number of challenges and surprises, from pranks (sand is dumped in Kelly's bed) to real dangers.

During last summer's lark, when Oogesti and I rescued “fiction by the pound” from the landfill, this was one of the novels we salvaged. I'm not claiming that it's a great novel. All I'm saying on its behalf is that, for those who like harmless romances in which predictable characters bump along the predictable path to a predictable happy ending, this is one of them. No explicit premarital sex, no serious violence, no bad language. Sweet, sassy, stereotypical Irish-American chick competes with grim, older, English-surnamed brunette for young man's attention—mercy, there's hardly even any competition. 

"J.H. Rhodes" is the name of a corporation but I was pleasantly surprised to find that, according to Google, James H. Rhodes is also the name of the writer of several of what Avalon calls their "mystery" novels. They say mysteries, I say romances. Whatever. Anyway he is apparently alive, so Peril at Blackstone is a Fair Trade Book. Send $5 per copy + $5 per package to either of the addresses in the box at the very bottom of this page, and out of this total of $10 we will send Rhodes or a charity of his choice 10%, or $1, for each copy we sell online. (That would be $4 for Rhodes or the charity if you ordered four copies at one time, or one copy each of Peril at Blackstone and three of his other novels, and thus sent us only $25.)