Hayefield Manor by Jody Klaire is an engaging mystery with a compelling romantic subplot about two exceptionally rare characters. They are thrown together through circumstance, but it seems love may be in their future.
Morgan Lloyd is at a crossroads in her life. She was recently medically retired from her position as a detective because she lost her left arm during an attack by a crazed killer. She saved another officer, but it ended her career. To make matters more depressing, her fiancé can barely look at her prosthesis let alone touch it. The two women are becoming more distant by the day, and Morgan doesn’t feel an immediate urge to fix things. Morgan’s dear friend, Fiona, presents her with an unusual opportunity. There’s been a murder at Hayefield Manor, and the lady of the manor, Sophie Haye is the only suspect. Fiona’s family has been connected to the estate for years and believes Lady Haye is innocent.
Hayefield Manor is not a welcoming place nor is Lady Sophie Haye. There’s nothing innocent about her, and she can’t be bothered to take part in her own defense. She has an estate to run and a family name to live up to. She is breathtakingly beautiful and as icy as Miranda Priestley’s dismissive glare. The more Morgan investigates, the guiltier Lady Haye appears.
As Morgan’s former colleagues begin to close the net around Sophie, Morgan has a decision to make. Does she drop the investigation and walk away from the woman who’s captured her heart, or does she stay, and risk being duped by a coldblooded killer?
There’s so much to unpack about these two main characters. Both Sophie and Morgan present one aspect of themselves to the staff at Hayefield Manor and the police investigating Sophie, and a more vulnerable and authentic side to each other.
Morgan is brilliantly realized. She’s full of contradictions. Aren’t we all that way to some extent? She’s brave, yet the foggy moors surrounding the Manor make her a jumpy mess. She’s got a wonderful sense of humor, yet she’s prone to malaise over the loss of her career. She’s got a quick mind perfect for analyzing clues, but when she’s around Sophie she finds herself overwhelmed by the woman’s magnetism. Intelligence and a quick wit are a powerful mix, and I was instantly drawn to Morgan. She’s very down to earth and her self-deprecating humor kept me engaged. Every day she’s got to face the trauma that lingers from the attack that forced her early retirement. She does it one day at a time with determination. Her interactions with Sophie are priceless. Sophie sometimes comes off like a lioness stalking its next meal, but Morgan sees through Sophie’s prickly demeanor and pushes her to let people see her softer side.
I’ve never been a huge fan of ice queens, but in this case Sophie’s frosty deportment drew me deep into the world of this book. She’s snappish and calculating, yet Klaire gives the reader glimpses of her sense of humor and sorrows. There’s no denying Sophie tries to live up to the repute of her noble family. She comes from a long line of rogues. They are infamous for their harsh demeanors, use of violence, and lack of empathy. While Sophie does her best at embodying this reputation, she often undercuts herself with acts of generosity, surprising those around her. I got the impression she was quite astonished by her attraction and feelings towards Morgan. Sophie doesn’t do intimacy. It was her downfall as a young woman and she’s dead set on not repeating history. But there’s something about Morgan that undermines her defenses. Watching the teasing manner between Sophie and Morgan was an absolute treat.
The Writing Style
Klaire’s use of point of view brilliantly reflects each character’s personality and quirks. I’ve never read anything quite like it. Part of the book is in first person from Morgan’s point of view, and she often addresses the reader as if you’re at a pub gossiping over pints. She pokes fun at herself and the situations she finds herself in. This made it easy for me to insert myself into the narrative. I also found that I identified with Morgan as a result. The parts of the book from Sophie’s point of view are in third person and they’re stylistically more conventional. They reflect the control Sophie exerts in all areas of her life. Stylistically this sounds like it could be jarring, but it amplifies each woman’s personality.
The world Klaire creates is stunning and I was completely immersed in it. Hayefield Manor is its own character. The fog that moves in at night is menacing and it colors the plot and the actions of the characters. The house has a unique personality, and the tone of a scene is often reflected in the room in which it takes place. Coats of armor and family portraits make for a larger than life story.
A major part of Morgan’s character is how she copes physically and emotionally with her prosthetic arm. It’s a reminder of all she’s lost. Sophie also has a physical disability, but it’s not so easily recognized. Their disabilities seemed to be a point of commonality between them. They see each other in ways that others may not. While some might see Morgan or Sophie as “lesser than”, Klaire focuses on their strengths. If anything, their physical disabilities add a nuanced layer to their characters, and the women recognize the vulnerability and resolve in each other.
Let me think. Nope, I’ve got nothing.
I was so unexpectedly delighted with Hayfield Manor. The writing is clever, and the characters are engaging. When Sophie and Morgan are in the same room their chemistry is palpable. Klaire injects humor into many of the scenes which goes a long way with me. At a certain point in the story I figured out a part of the mystery and thought, “Oh, what a clever reader I am.” I never saw the remaining twists and turns coming so I must say, “Oh, what a clever writer.” The fascinating characters and the unusual plot place Hayefield Manor on my reread list.
Excerpt from Hayefield Manor by Jody Klaire
I’M THE TYPE of person that tends to throw myself into things. Having a job, any job, made me feel useful and it would be too easy to forget why I was at the manor. Didn’t help that Lady Sophie Haye was . . . well, you ever meet a woman who has this magnetism around her? The kind that makes her feel untouchable yet it’s so beyond sexy, you want to try and reach her?
Yeah, that was Sophie Haye. Arrested for murder or not, the woman was gorgeous: Olive skin, tanned like she’d been somewhere far warmer than Warwickshire, charcoal eyes, and stark white hair even when she couldn’t have been more than her mid-forties. It was silky white, and as I navigated my duties as head of security, I caught myself staring. She walked like a dancer. You know the strut-come-prowl? And when she strode down a corridor, boy, did she demand attention.
She never so much as made eye contact with anyone. She was beyond aloof, snarled when someone hovered near and it was easy to see why my former colleagues were set on building a case against her. It took five minutes in a room with her to know that she could slice someone and not think twice. Felt like being in a room with a predator . . . they looked cute sometimes but they only did it so it would save them chasing you.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781949290318
- Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing
- Jody Klaire Online
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