Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels
In Wait for What Will Come, American Carla Tregellas finds out that she has inherited an ancient mansion in Cornwall. There’s not much money for keeping the place up but, being young and carefree, she decides to travel to Cornwall and live in the house until the money runs out. Once there, she meets several love interests. She also learns about the folk stories of the area, including that there’s a sea demon who abducts a woman from her family every 200 years on Midsummer’s Day. (Can you guess how many years it’s been since the last abduction?) Meanwhile, she hears and sees strange things around the house, and she nearly dies in what was obviously a staged accident. Can she find out what’s really going on before the demon comes to drag her down into the deep?
This book had its own special atmosphere, and it was a nice change. For me, an ancient, stony mansion on the seashore of Cornwall is a more interesting setting than, say, an old house in Virginia. I also liked the idea of the sea demon who abducts a young woman every 200 years.
But the book suffered from some of the common flaws of the romance novel. How can you believe that the heroine is a smart, modern woman who can take care of herself if she’s always behaving stupidly and irrationally and getting herself into desperate need of rescue? Also, though I understand why an author would want to try to keep the reader from guessing which guy would ultimately win the girl, making him the mean one is a terrible method for doing that. How can we be satisfied with the ending if we can’t even understand why the heroine would want such an oaf?
But there is a lot to be said for Michaels’ work. I always learn something from her books, which is part of my justification for reading them. From this book I learned a little bit about Cornish surnames. I no longer have the book handy, so I can’t quote from it, but Wikipedia gives a couple of versions of the rhyme that Michaels referenced, including this one:
By Tre, Ros, Pol, Lan, Caer and Pen / You may know the most Cornishmen.
The Wikipedia article explains the meanings of the names. I think it’s interesting. I hadn’t even realized that there is such a thing as the Cornish language.
Next up in the Barbara Michaels binge is Patriot’s Dream.