Whispers of the Flesh
Louisa Burton
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Buy *Whispers of the Flesh (Hidden Grotto)* by Louisa Burton online

Whispers of the Flesh (Hidden Grotto)
Louisa Burton
Bantam
Paperback
320 pages
September 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Whispers of the Flesh contains two separate stories linked by location: the infamous Castle of the Hidden Grotto in France. The first story, based in the 19th century, features David Beckett, a young Jesuit priest-in-training who is visiting the grotto to investigate reports of demons there. David has been one of the church's demon investigators for many years but is visiting in the guise of a landscape gardener to cover his investigations. David may uncover rather more than he expects - not only that, he may find the very people he is searching for are not as evil as he previously thought.

The second story occurs in the present day as the current administrator of the castle lies dying. His daughter, Isabel, is at his bedside but can't quite ignore the man she loves, who is in charge of the castle. Unfortunately, despite the fact they both love each other, she and Adrien cannot be together: he has to marry one of the 'Gifted', mortals who see auras and more, and Isabel's father isn't Gifted (although her mother is). As we travel back thirty years in the memory of a friend of the dying man's to a special house party with a large group of free-spirited people, we learn more about the history of these people. Isabel may find things are a little different than she thought.

Both stories are well-written, and the historical one feels reasonably researched. The plots both have interesting aspects, although the story of David Beckett fizzles out at the end. We learn little about several characters in both stories, and I wonder if the author is planning to write more about this group of people. In line with this genre of book, there is a lot of sex. Particularly in the second book, much of it is gratuitous and unnecessary to the plot. We learn a lot about the dying man's nurse's sexual adventures, for example, and not all that much about our hero and heroine. However, the quality of writing marks Whispers of the Flesh above many others, and the second story is particularly effective in slowly unfolding history and how events many years before affected people today.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Helen Hancox, 2008

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