In Pitrone’s debut novel, a young woman is invited to work with an artist who may be her father.
In 1952, lovely Meghan Fitzpatrick, 22, paints miniature porcelain portraits in New York City. After attending an exhibition of the works of artist Michael “Mick” Sullivan, she’s invited to Ireland by Shamus—whose mother is Mick’s mother-in-law—to be Mick’s apprentice. She accepts, distressing suitor Frank McHugh, who hastily proposes as she prepares to sail to Ireland. Shamus’ invitation is part ruse: He believes the woman is Meghan Sullivan, kidnapped nearly 20 years ago and believed dead. Arriving at Castlemoor in southern Ireland, Meghan meets the individuals who reside there—the Sullivans, O’Neills and McFlynns, including unnervingly gorgeous Quinn McFlynn, who literally sweeps Meghan off her feet. Many notice Meghan’s strong resemblance to Mary Kate, Mick’s wife, who died after falling from a cliff. Rose, the dead matriarch, presents herself in spirit to servants and family members, including Meghan. Rose is determined to find out who murdered her and kidnapped Meghan as a child. Suspects abound, including a disgruntled relative who labels Meghan a gold digger. The author aptly sets the stage at Castlemoor by the sea, creating a host of characters that may be involved in crimes that are current and/or 20 years old. Outspoken Rose functions as a one-woman Greek (Irish?) chorus, which can be amusing and at times irritating, as she sometimes states what is blatantly obvious while remaining in the dark about her own demise. The romance between Meghan and Quinn is strictly PG yet solidly developed, with Quinn in dogged, gentlemanly pursuit. From the start, there is little doubt that Meghan is the long-lost daughter, though that plot strand is treated as unresolved for roughly a third of the book. Mick’s reaction to Meghan’s return is subdued but may perhaps be ascribed to years of grieving the loss of his wife and child. In the end, the final summation of Rose’s murder, Meghan’s kidnapping, Mary Kate’s death and other crimes is a stretch.
Entertaining romance pleasantly situated at a castle in Ireland but with a mystery that doesn’t quite tally.