This novel by Barbara Michaels is a later Gothic Romance, published in 1983.
I found this unique cover image on Goodreads, though I have not seen this cover before. I'd love to find a copy of this particular edition.
Andrea Torgesen has purchased an old mansion that she plans to fix up and run as an inn or boarding house. Andrea has had a tough life, and her brother Jim is no exception. After having a terrible car accident and almost dying, Jim is coming to live with Andrea. She sees him as her responsibility, and she brooks no opposition from him about his recovery. Her slowly budding interest in Martin, a lovable liberal lodger, complicates matters.
When Jim starts seeing things, and eerie happenings occur, Andrea wonders what she is fighting against. Battling Jim's unhealthy obsession with the family grave plot on the property, Andrea finds herself in a struggle with life and death.
Characterization: 4/5 [Andrea is not particularly likable, but I think her character is realistic considering her tough life. Moreover, she does change and grow in the course of the novel, so she is truly a round character. I found myself moved by this novel, so I would say that I grew to love all the characters. I picture Andrea as Valerie Bertinelli (younger) and Jim as a young Tobey Maguire.]
Plot: 5/5 [This one kept me in suspense, and I love the twist at the end. Michaels is not afraid to take risks as an author and disrupt the expectations of readers or genre. If you like Gothic Novels that don't play by the rules, this one is for you.]
Atmosphere/spooky elements: 5/5 [I got chills regularly from this novel with its ghosts, old documents, family graveyard, spooky photo, and the characters' obsessions. I also like the aspect of history repeating.]
Literary elements: 4/5 [This one is pretty fluffy, but Michaels always includes some feminism and liberal politics. I personally like both.]
Rating: 4+ stars ****+
I recommend this one. It is innovative and enjoyable, and I rank it in my top five of Michaels' novels. I want to add a note here, though: the ending is quite unsettling and might trigger some readers. I don't recommend it for all readers. If you want to know more, you can send me a message or post here, and I'll get back to it so as not to add a spoiler on the blog.