In a lot of ways, I am the perfect audience for this book.
Phyllis Whitney is one of the big gothic romance authors from the 1970's. This is the second Whitney I've read - the first being Window on the Square. Whitney writes in both a contemporary and a historical time period. Window on the Square is historical. This one is contemporary.
To understand why I am the perfect audience for this book, you must understand something of my childhood. I was born in the midwest, and my parents fell in love with skiing when I was very young. I recall chartered bus trips from Omaha, the place of my birth, to Breckenridge and Aspen, Colorado, with the kids bedded down in the front of the bus, while our parents - the adults - played cards, smoked cigarettes, flirted and drank cocktails in the back. It was a raucous good time.
We moved to Idaho specifically for the skiing when I was in the fifth grade, and I spent every weekend on the slopes. I joined junior racers and my high school ski team. I threw myself down the mountain as recklessly as possible, and warmed up in the lodge and made fun of the ski bunnies who got all gussied up for the purpose, apparently, of sitting in the lodge and being hit on by the ski bums.
I don't know if Phyllis Whitney was a skier, but she nailed 1970's ski culture, from the fondue to the snow bunnies to the apres-ski gluhwein.
Graystones, the house at the center of this book, was perfect - a Norman castle transplanted into the north woods. The mystery was engaging, with Linda, the heroine, going "undercover" as an apres-ski hostess to clear her younger brother, Stuart, who has been accused of murdering Margot, the wife of Stuart's ski mentor, Julian.
Julian is the owner of Graystones. As in Window on the Square, Linda forges a connection with Adria, the small daughter of Margot, who believes that she has killed her mother - the parallels between this book and Window on the Square are notable. And, while I will admit that I think that WotS is the superior book, this one was quite enjoyable. The story comes to a climax on the mountain at night, with Linda fleeing, on skis, from the pursuing murderer.
And unlike my last gothic, this one deserves the title, so I'm claiming my gothic square!