Monday, November 8, 2010

Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball

Released: January 2011

Keys to the Castle is the newest contemporary romance novel by Donna Ball, who is not only prolific under this pseudonym but under several others as well including Donna Boyd, Donna Carlisle, Rebecca Flanders and more.

Keys to the Castle is about two of what I call "hoity-toity" middle-aged aristocratic characters who unexpectedly find love under the most unusual and melodramatic circumstances. Sara Graves is the recent widow of an artistic, bohemian French-man who leaves behind a magnificent (and expensive) castle in France that Sara doesn't know about until after he dies. Her deceased husband's best friend and lawyer Ash Lindeman handles the estate and soon they find themselves falling fast in lust -- or love if you may call it that. As Sara is lulled deeper into France's bewitchment, she learns that her late husband has not led a life without secrets. Thus, drama ensues and Sara must cope with new challenges thrown her way.

In order for me to really enjoy a romance novel, I've gotta be crazy about one or both of the main characters. Both Sara and Ash are conservative and just simply boring that it really is hard to read this novel all the way through. Sara is too serious and uptight whereas Ash just doesn't have sexy written all over this book and you'll understand what I mean and where I'm coming from. Maybe he will appeal to middle-aged women who prefer stuck-up, wimpy men as opposed to the cliched muscle-ripped tall, dark and handsome gents.

While I appreciate that Donna Ball tries to integrate contemporary issues into Keys to the Castle such as custody battles, parenthood, death, and inheritances, the novel just remains too far-fetched to be enjoyable or possible to relate to. This novel is like a fairy-tale that comes true in the beginning, but veers off into just such negativity that it becomes easy to lose interest and not care about the outcome.

Sex scenes are pretty much non-existent and what little physical romance there is, is completely bland and unstimulating. I would recommend Keys to the Castle to, well, nobody.

With respect to Donna Ball, I know that all novels can't be winners. The author has been extremely successful with other titles, especially The Passion (1998) by Donna Boyd, which also sits on my bookshelf at home. Readers, please don't be turned off by Donna Ball because Keys to the Castle isn't worth the read. Her other titles include Smoky Mountain Tracks (2006, and a dog mystery, how fun!), A Year on Ladybug Farm (2009), and Dark Angel (1998).

                                                      A Year on Ladybug Farm  

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