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Depraved Heart: A Novel

by Kathleen Valentine

?(Novel: 135k words) Romantic suspense – Growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, art curator Tempest Hobbs was surrounded by metaphysical practitioners but considers her own empathic powers a curse. The feelings that assault her became so terrible that she was confined to a psychiatric hospital. Upon her return home, badly shaken and weak, she discovers a letter from Hathor, the mysterious mansion of the Ravenscroft family.

Located on the island of Hephzibah Regrets just off the coast, Hathor is said to be filled with fabulous art and “fairy retreats” where lavish parties are held. But sixteen years ago, during one of those parties, the distinguished dancer and Ravenscroft heir, Raven Silver was shot and killed. His sister Rachel’s husband Syd Jupiter, a powerful NFL fullback, was convicted of the depraved heart murder of his brother-in-law and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

The letter is from Syd Jupiter, now paroled and living at Hathor. Wyatt Ravenscroft is dead and has left his entire estate to Anjelica, Syd and Rachel’s fifteen-year-old daughter. Syd offers Tempest the opportunity to live at Hathor for the summer while cataloging the vast art collection. She welcomes the chance to be away from the constant pressures of life in society.

Tempest is dazzled by the art she finds but is soon aware that there are secrets and lies all around her. Hathor’s housekeeper, Audrey, hates Syd and was once, Tempest discovers, Raven’s lover. Miles Wainwright, a local fisherman and the only witness to the murder, is hiding something, and Anjelica lives in fear that Syd will be sent back to prison. And then there is Syd’s mother, Marie-Isobel, the owner of a Santeria shop in New Orleans’ French Quarter, who joins them for the summer with her candles and cleansing rituals.

In the fishing village on Hephzibah Regrets the locals gather every night in the Riptide where men drink and talk fishing, women spin and knit, and everyone relishes the rumors about Hathor. They tell stories of Will Silver, the father Raven and Rachel never knew, and of wild Rosalind, their beautiful mother who died in an insane asylum. As the heat of summer intensifies Tempest discovers more about the secrets, deceptions, love affairs, madness, and mysterious deaths of Hathor’s residents. And about Syd Jupiter who is as enigmatic as he is alluring.

What people are saying about Depraved Heart:
5 out of 5 Stars:

Now that I have finished reading Depraved Heart, I don’t know what to do with myself; what a great read for the?beach or for the armchair! From the very first page I was hooked. The characters are so colorful and deep. Each?character has a back-story which gives them a richness that adds to the unfolding events.?Tempest Hobbs, the “sensitive” is so believable as an art curator and fragile, wounded soul. Her “escape” to?the Island sets her off on an unexpected life-changing adventure.?Syd Jupiter is every women’s fantasy man; the son of a New Orleans “voodo” mother, he is handsome, strong, romantic,honest, and yet he’s hiding some big secrets.

Setting the book in Salem and on an Island called “Hephzibah Regrets” was brilliant. (I actually looked up this Island in Google to see if it really exists!) There are twists and turns with plot and characters in each chapter – taking you to the last few pages where you learn the “secret” that Syd has been keeping from Tempest. – Amazon Reviewer

 

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? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Each Angel Burns
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?A Novel of Faith & Passion
by Kathleen Valentine

In the latter part of the 19th century the Monastery of St. Gabriel the Archangel was built on a cliff overlooking the ocean on a peninsula in Maine. From its earliest days there were rumors of strange activity there — tunnels through the cliff were reported to give access for smugglers, a miracle-working nun was said to live there, and a group of drunken lumberjacks who stormed the convent to kidnap wives claimed to have been vanquished by a giant angel with a flaming sword. One hundred years later, when the last of the old cloistered nuns was removed to a retirement home, the decision was made to close and sell the convent. That’s when it was discovered that he convent’s treasure, a marble statue of the Archangel Gabriel by Italian sculptor Giovanni Dupré, was missing.

In Ripley Mills, Massachusetts the self-titled wild bunch, who played football together back in high school, gather every Thursday for dinner and beer. More than thirty years have passed and the group isn’t what it used to be. Charlie’s new female boss is young, pretty, and intimidating. Whitey’s wife has cancer, Bull’s wife just found out about his affair with an exotic dancer, and Vinnie can’t get women to go out with him. Gabe’s three daughters have grown up and his wife is making life miserable. Peter doesn’t have those problems, he’s a Jesuit priest. But they still get together every week to drink, eat, and listen to one another’s problems. Then Father Peter makes a startling revelation, he had once been in love with a girl he met in Paris. He planned to leave the seminary to marry her but she rejected him to marry an older, wealthy man. Pete is happy as a priest teaching at Boston College but now Maggie has returned. She is leaving her husband and has purchased an old, abandoned convent in Maine that she plans to convert to a sculpture studio.

On Pete’s recommendation Gabe takes a job helping Maggie to restore the convent. But, as winter closes in, the mysteries begin again. Stories are circulating about bodies of young women washing up on the shore. Maggie’s husband refuses to answer her calls. Gabe’s cantankerous father, Mick, tells him the truth about his mother. Ethan Darling, the local sheriff, is snooping around. Zeke, Gabe’s dog, discovers a secret passage in the crypt under the chapel. And Father Peter realizes that Maggie is falling in love with Gabe, his oldest friend.

Each Angel Burns?is the story of three people at crossroads in their lives. It is a story of enduring friendship, of faith, of great evil and greater love — and of how they culminate in a miracle.

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What people are saying about Each Angel Burns:

from Jane Ward at Food & Fiction:

EACH ANGEL BURNS?by Kathleen Valentine

The classic Gothic novel feeds readers on equal parts thrilling terror and sublime chivalric style romance, sometimes with a smidge of repressed sexuality thrown in for good measure.? Often set in dark, unexplored castles or forbidding abbeys, these stories feature people who suffer at the hand of evil or the supernatural, while heroes try to triumph and divine punishment looms over both man and society.

I cut my teeth on the novels of Charlotte and Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley, perhaps the widest read period Gothic writers.? Think of the dark and brooding Heathcliff, the secret kept hidden in Rochesters attic, Shelleys misunderstood monster: each novel promised mystery and menace and endings that might offer resolution, but of an older, more jaded kind than the happily ever after of fairy tale.

In the 20th?century, the Gothic torch was re-lit and carried most proudly by Daphne du Maurier.? As she picked up writing in this classic genre, she also modernized the tradition, replacing dank castles and abbeys with partially inhabited manor homes, and a madwoman in the attic with a portrait of a dead wife intended to chasten the ingénue bride.

With her 2009 novel,?Each Angel Burns, indie author Kathleen Valentine picks up where du Maurier left off, herself reviving and recreating the genre by incorporating some classic mood elements (a labyrinthine abbey, a hero, an absolute evil villain, and a range of inexplicable disappearances) along with modern twists intended to keep the story current and accessible a dingily ordinary mill town bar, an assortment of struggling middle-aged Everymen, and their modern and sometimes angst-ridden relationships with women and God.

Gabriel (Gabe) assumes a central role in the bunch, all of whom have been friends since high school.? Husband to an unhappy wife, father to three daughters, Gabe is a woodworker who was meant to go to art school.? He has accepted his lot without much looking back because of his sense of duty, but struggles with feelings of inadequacy because he cant seem to make his wife happy no matter how diligently he keeps his nose to the grindstone.? His long time best friend, Pete, is a former heartthrob turned priest, forever at arms length from the women he once collected with ease, but all the while uncertain if leaving his one true love, Magdalene (Maggie) to marry another man, was a good decision.

Maggie, knowing she stood between Pete and his commitment to the church, made Petes departure easy by taking up with Sinclair and announcing to Pete that she had made up her mind to marry him instead.? The marriage that resulted has been a poor one, with Maggie left a prisoner of Sinclairs money and his cruel proclivities.? When Sinclair offers to buy her an abandoned abbey on Maines coast as a retreat and place for her to do the sculpting she loves, Maggie seizes the opportunity to begin her break from him.

As Maggie reconnects with Pete in the wake of the dismantling of her marriage, she also meets Gabe who, upon Petes recommendation, becomes the craftsman in charge of the abbeys renovation.? Love between the two lonely artistic individuals begins to grow.? If this were your standard romance novel, right at this moment a bodice would rip, someones rippling chest muscles would peek out from an unbuttoned shirt, and body parts would be heaving with desire.? The lovers would end up together, riding off into a beautiful sunset.

But Valentines tradition is the Gothic romance, and she is respectful of the more complex threads of story that deserve to be told against the backdrop of the unknown portions of the abbey and Maggies cipher of a husband.? She writes with delicate grace, allowing personal stories to unfold, deftly adding secondary story lines (the miraculous recovery of a lost statue of the abbeys angel Gabriel, a sinister string of missing and dead girls turning up along the coast of Maine, and a touching depiction of redemption after a tragic and crippling accident) to enrich the whole.

The main story and its offshoots come together because of Valentines use of the Catholic religion its traditions, teachings, and symbolism as unifying image and theme. Marriages break up, new love takes its time, all kinds of commitment are questioned and tested; in the end evil is uncovered and vanquished, but not without some soul searching and sadness.? All of this unfurls to the reader within the larger context of faith and its redemptive, healing properties.? A born storyteller, Valentine gives the stories of all her characters their due time to develop until they resonate.??Each Angel Burns?is a book that has burned itself into memory.

from Maureen Gill at Windy City Author:

Each Angel Burns?is a masterpiece!

Kathleen Valentine is a gifted author in possession of a variety of talents. She knits gorgeous shawls by the seashore, shawls that are soft and sensual; she also loves to cook old fashioned comfort foods that nurture and heal. Valentine writes non-fiction books about knitting and cooking, and uses her talent for fiction to effortlessly cook up and then knit together remarkable stories about the passions of the flesh as well as the spirit.?Each Angel Burns?is Valentines second full length work of fiction and it is even more sophisticated and cleverly woven than her first,?An Old Mermaids Tale,?which was a story I thought would be impossible to beat. I was wrong.?Each Angel Burns?is a masterpiece.

Each Angel Burns?begins with a wonderfully written introduction to a small group of middle-aged men struggling with the disappointing realities of their ordinary lives. These guys have been meeting at the local watering hole for thirty years since their graduation from high school and Valentine is adroit at writing dialogue thats true to their blue-collar roots, masculinity, and New England mill town locality; so true, in fact, that its easy to imagine yourself sitting on a bar stool nearby, munching Beer Nuts and drinking a brew. Such is the sense of familiarity and comfort that Valentine quickly establishes; these guys are real and it would be a rare reader who wouldnt know them.

Two of the men in this close knit group of friends quickly develop as central characters in the book: Gabe is a talented craftsman with an artists eye and heart, and Pete, the most handsome and gifted man the old mill town ever produced is a Jesuit priest teaching at nearby Boston College. Gabe is the settled-down guy who never wandered far from home; long married with three adult daughters whove flown the nest, Gabe struggles to understand how his marriage turned into a meat locker. Valentines ability to sketch out a marriage turned as cold as dry ice and just as caustic is astonishing. Gabes wife is a woman seething with slowly fermented husband-hate, a hate whose seeds were planted long ago when she married Gabe, knowing full well she didnt love him. Gabe is excruciatingly unaware that the defect in his marriage is not anything he can correct.

Father Pete is married too but his spouse, Holy Mother Church, is a more demanding lover than any earthly wife. Pete has been a good priest a faithful and loving spouse but when the only woman he ever loved, Maggie, reappears in his life he, like Gabe, is suddenly faced with his own middle-aged marital crisis.

Maggie, named after The Magdalene, is married to a man of great wealth and even greater malevolence and after years of abuse Maggie has finally found a way to break free. Her husband, Sinclair, has given her the strange gift of a deconsecrated convent built on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Maggie is determined to return the Monastery of St. Gabriel the Archangel to its old glory and as she works to regenerate the mysterious convent it begins to regenerate her. Maggies hunt for the famous and long-lost statue of Gabriel the Archangel that was said to miraculously guard the convent door leads her to an expert on the subject at Boston College and back into the life of Fr. Peter Black, the man she loved but walked out on many years before.

The Monastery of St. Gabriel the Archangel becomes ground zero in a Manichean battle for the hearts and souls and lives of all three of heavens namesakes: Gabe, named after St. Gabriel, the patron saint of priests; Peter, the rock upon whom Christ built His church; and the Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood and maligned women in Scripture, the woman of sin with the purest of hearts. Maggies malevolent husband is the Devils own handiwork; he is a creature of unimaginable evil able to destroy all three as surely as he has destroyed many others. Gabriel the Archangel, however, is determined to deny the Devil his victory.

Each Angel Burns?washes over the reader, first slowly like gentle waves on a quiet day at the shore and then as fiercely as a killer squall. Valentine is a writer who is as talented with narrative as she is with prose. Her dialogue is earthy, clever and utterly believable while her narrative is breathtakingly beautiful, at times sumptuous. Valentine blends literary fiction with its opposite in a remarkable story that satisfies all of the senses. Gabe, Pete and Maggie are indisputably the storys central characters but Valentine presents a compelling cast of actors who support her main cast brilliantly. Julie, Gabes brittle angry wife, sucks the air out of every scene she enters and Gabes father Mick is a crusty old guy smarting from the pain inflicted on him by his dead wife, a woman whom he robbed of her dreams by his all-too-human love. Gabes brother Mike and his wife Daisy are people who have refused to let personal tragedy destroy them and their strength and love for one another plays out like a beautiful but sad symphony. Zeke, Gabes dog, is an animal without shame; a brazen whore for affection, Zeke is willing to give as good as he gets and returns love with the generosity of a free spirit as only a dog can do.

Each Angel Burns?is sexy and sophisticated and Valentine delivers a few shockaroos that are completely unpredictable. The ending is suspenseful, original, and satisfying and a testament to the many miracles that happen among us those few that loom large and dramatic and the many that heal and sustain our broken spirits.

Kathleen Valentine has secured for herself a respected place in contemporary American literature and I eagerly await her third novel,?Depraved Heart.


Of Angels, Love, and Miracles

June 16, 2010

By Barry?Yelton

Kathleen Valentine is an author with a vivid eye for detail and a knack for telling a good story. This one is exceptionally well told. It is the story of a tormented priest and an abused wife, along with a cast of believable and capitivating characters. Throw in a mysterious old abbey with a storied past, a string of murders, and a globe-trotting villain and you have an engaging and entertaining read.?

Ms. Valentine has a gift for description and her often lyrical prose brings the story depth and texture. Describing the view of the ocean from the crumbling abbey she writes, “Silver light from a full Snow Moon rising out of the Atlantic just beyond Owls Head sweeps across the frigid black waters like a trail of angel’s wings and shimmers through the frozen night.” She paints such vivid pictures that the reader can easily visualize the scenes and the characters in them.?

The story pulls you along with surprising twists and turns, and an unexpected ending.?

This is one of the best independent novels I have read. Highly recommended.

Lasting Values

January 30, 2010

By Frank?O’?(Roanoke, Virginia)

I enjoyed this book over the course of two snowy days in Virginia. I had just visited Maine and Massachusetts where this novel is set, so I was ripe for the accents of these characters.?

The book revealed a lot to me about Catholic spirituality. It is the first book I’ve read with a specifically Catholic ethos. Issues of faith, enacting one’s values, the meaning of virginity, sacrificial love, friendship, loyalty are all given scope here. When these characters move from their inner commitments, their manifestation is love rather than deprivation. I lived along with each character (and there are many), and gradually understood their actions. Tender love making is a joy to experience and to read. That too is part of this novel. Ms. Valentine’s atmospheric novel raises many ideas and I think they will keep perking inside me for a good while.?– Ann Martyn