VCA Recaps: Gates of Paradise Part 1

Just like in my Fallen Hearts recap, these will be full of SPOILERS so do not continue if you do not want to be spoiled/haven’t read it. Thank you!

Gates of Paradise (Casteel #4) by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)

Stunned by tragedy, desperate and alone, Heaven’s daughter clung to the frailest of dreams!

The car crash that killed Heaven and Logan left Annie Casteel Stonewall orphaned and crippled. Whisked off to Farthinggale Manor by the possessive Tony Tatterton, Annie pines for her lost family, but especially for Luke, her half-brother. Friend of her childhood, her fantasy prince, her loving confidante…without the warm glow of Luke’s love, she is lost in the shadows of despair.

When Annie discovers Troy’s cottage hidden in Farthinggale’s woods, the mystery of her past deepens. And even as she yearns to see Luke again, her hopes and dreams are darkened by the sinister Casteel spell…treacherous, powerful and evil!

This recap will cover Chapters 1–4

Annie Stonewall is introduced and basically gives the short version of the back story of the last three books. It is revealed at Annie is close with her half-brother, Luke Casteel Jr. She even admits that she has feelings for him, even though they both know it’s wrong. Hints of her being Troy’s daughter are given through her need to paint as well as becoming depressed for little reason.

Annie is painting a picture of Luke at Farthinggale Manor, which both of them are obsessed with. Drake, Annie’s uncle (though she admits he is more like her big brother), comes in to tease them about the painting and their obsession with Farthy. He also acts like he is jealous of Luke even though Annie doesn’t ask him to model for her because he can’t sit still long enough.

For whatever reason, Annie and Luke do this weird pretend thing in front of Drake. It’s a way for them to admit their feelings for one another since it’s just pretend. Annie claims to be a princess, Farthy is the castle, and Luke is its prince. Drake then claims to be the villain who locks the princess away, laughing afterward about how they managed to rope him into their pretending.

I was (still am sometimes) very into pretending so I can relate to Annie, but this interaction between her and Luke comes across as super cheesy. After, Drake says that maybe one day he will go visit Farthy, which makes Annie instantly jealous. As she’s ranting about the mystery of her mother refusing to talk much about Farthy, Heaven comes in, seeming upset at hearing her daughter talk about it.

She seems unhappy with Farthy being the subject of Annie’s paintings and urges her to paint the Willies instead. When Annie protests that her work isn’t that good, Heaven objects, hinting that it’s in her blood. Of course Annie thinks she means her grandfather, who whittled wooden animals, but we know Heaven means Troy.

Annie and Luke’s 18th birthday party rolls around. Logan gives Annie a golden locket with his and Heaven’s pictures inside. Heaven gives her the replica of Troy’s cottage and Annie notices that Logan reacts strangely to it. Does he really suspect Annie is Troy’s or just knows what the cottage means to Heaven?

Her parents present her with a Mercedes convertible, which she offers rides to her father, Drake (who is visiting from college), and Luke. After, Heaven gives Annie a diamond necklace and earrings that used to belong to Jillian. She also briefly talks about Jillian’s obsession with vanity and warns Annie against being so close to Luke. You’d think Heaven would tell Annie the truth now but I guess she has changed her mind or plans to do it later.

After giving Luke a ride in the car, the two of them meet in the gazebo they have claimed as their special place to exchange gifts–an oynx and gold pinky ring for Luke, and a bronzed picture of Farthy for Annie.

Annie later shows Drake the picture and he is skeptical because it doesn’t match up with the memory he had of it at the old age of five. A few weeks later, Annie receives a letter from Drake in which he tells her about reaching out to Tony Tatterton and visiting Farthy for himself. Apparently it has become a lot more run down despite Tony being a multimillionaire.

The letter upsets Annie and when Luke calls, he can tell something is wrong so she tells him about it. When she frets over the real thing not being like they imagined, Luke tells her it doesn’t matter because their dreams are important. He also vows to always be near whenever she needs him.

A few days later, Drake calls to make sure Annie got his letter and tells her more about Farthy, Tony Tatterton, and seeing Heaven’s old room, mentioning that Tony confused him by talking about Leigh as well. Annie is envious and whines about how she will never see it but Drake assures her that through him, she will. Fanny is planning a huge birthday party, which Drake is sad to miss. He seems to find her entertaining.

Annie notices that Luke seems troubled about something at school later on and asks him to walk her home. After thinking of how unfair it is that people continue to look down on the Casteels, especially one as great as Luke, Annie demands that Luke tells her what is wrong.

Once they are at Annie’s house, which she constantly refers to as the “Hasbrouck House” (seems a bit odd to do but I guess they all do this?), Luke tells her the trouble. Apparently he applied to Harvard (he IS the valedictorian after all) and got in but Fanny found the letter first and left the pieces for him to find all over his room.

Fanny seems to think Luke is deserting her and still holds a grudge against her richer/more educated family members, such as Keith and Jane, and also resents that she was never invited to Farthy. Annie comforts him and they talk about their future. Annie plans to go to an art school in Europe. She teases Luke about how he’ll find someone at Harvard. He remarks that the girl will have to be really amazing and looks at Annie in a way that makes her blush.
 I mean, I know the truth but still.

Later, Annie has a brief fantasy of what it would be like to have met Luke in Boston as an unrelated stranger. Afterward Annie becomes melancholy and begins to sob. Heaven hears her and comes in for a talk. They discuss Annie’s future, Heaven’s promise to tell Annie her secrets one day, and Fanny. Heaven is delighted when Annie tells her that Luke has been accepted to Harvard and assures her that Fanny will come around.

The night of Fanny’s party arrives and despite it looking like a perfect night, the Stonewall’s cook, Roland Starr, predicts bad weather later on. Fanny makes a scene with Logan right away as she gets him to dance with her as lewdly as she can manage.

Heaven is pissed but remains quiet as she watches them. She is cold to Logan when he is able to get away after Luke cuts in to dance with his mother. Logan has already had something to drink and continues to have more. The atmosphere at this party is tense for Heaven, Annie, and Luke.

Fanny makes a speech about being 40 and looking 20 on her birthday before there is an argument between two men at the beer keg. Heaven has had enough and asks Logan to take them home. He has had too much to drink but assures Heaven that he can drive.

It begins to rain as Heaven and Logan fight about what happened at the party. Heaven warns Logan to keep his eyes on the road and to be careful. On a curve, another car heads their way and is too far into their lane. Heaven screams and Logan calls out Annie’s name as they crash.

I don’t feel as connected to Heaven in this one as I did in the past ones so I’m not as devastated as I would have been had she died in Dark Angel but it’s still sad. Fucking Logan Stonewall. Until now, this book has been a bit boring. I can definitely tell the ghostwriter is doing this one. Maybe VCA was dramatic and a fan of purple prose, but she knew how to hook a reader! I feel lukewarm about this book so far.

Next, Annie wakes up to life without her parents or the use of her legs.

Just saying, Logan. I know the other car wasn’t completely in its lane but you were still drunk driving in the rain and trying to argue with your wife because you were being an idiot. Good going.


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