Gothic Romance Review: The Curse of Kenton by Janet Louise Roberts

The Curse of Kenton Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1972
Illustrator: Robert McGinnis
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader Gothic Romance Review: The Curse of Kenton by Janet Louise Roberts


Wicked Wave of Death!
Young, ripe, and penniless, Barbara Ashe was swept by powerful emotions into a marriage with the rich, wildly romantic Duke of Kenton. But soon she was shocked by his evil society friends, mortified by his bursting hot-tempered fits, and plagued by the fear that his worsening heart condition was more than simply the gypsy curse on the men of Kenton.
Taunted by her suspicions through chilling, dark nights, she began to trust no one. Someone in that ominous castle was planning murder – and each moment marched Barbara closer to the awful truth!


The Book

I’ve not read too many gothic romances, but The Curse of Kenton by Janet Louise Roberts is definitely one of the better ones I’ve come upon. My Avon 1972 first-edition features the typical Gothic cover. There is the heroine (wrong hair color alert: she’s brunette, not blonde) screaming in terror as she runs away from a dark castle.

In this case, it’s Castle Kenton. It is a place shrouded in a dreadful mystery, as is always the case in these Gothic Romances.

The Plot

Barbara Ashe is an orphan who works as a pharmacist for a country doctor. One day two dashing lords come racing through town. The darkly handsome Duke of Kenton requires her services as he is gravely ill. Gilbert is a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. He suffers from a secret, fatal malady which makes him bitter and dissolute.

curse of kenton janet louise roberts
The Curse of Kenton, Janet Louise Roberts, Pocket Books, 1978 re-issue, cover artist TBD

Despite her better judgment, Barbara falls for the Duke. They are quickly married, as Gilbert needs an heir before he passes on. What follows is a great Gothic romance filled with intrigue. It’s a story filled with secrets, and a cruel hero who straddles the lines between romantic, tragically condemned to fate, and villainous.

Gilbert parties it up with friends and engages in drunken orgies. However, Barbara is no shrinking violet meekly accepting her husband’s peccadilloes.

What makes this book so very good is Barbara’s strong, resilient character. She won’t put up with her husband’s licentious debaucheries nor placidly accept his belief that his disease is incurable.

The Kenton bad temper is not going to kill my husband! I have resolved on that!


Barbara vows the curse will not destroy their lives.

Final Analysis of The Curse of Kenton

Things are not always what they seem here. Horrific, hidden mysteries are slowly revealed to a shocking denouement.

The great heroine with a backbone really made The Curse of Kenton stand out. I’m looking forward to reading more by Janet Louise Roberts.

4 1/2 Stars

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