Weightless entry in the florid Emma Harte saga (Unexpected Blessings, 2005, etc.) follows the machinations of envious grandson Jonathan Ainsley as he plots revenge on the inheritors of a landmark London store.
A couple of tidy paragraphs brings us up to date in the story of how matriarch Emma (first seen in A Woman of Substance, 1979) founded the Knightsbridge emporium, the flagship in her business empire that is now run by granddaughter Paula O’Neill. Jonathan, having failed to wrest the business away from cousin Paula in the 1980s, is now facing a new generation of family operators in the form of her redheaded cousin (and boss) Linnet O’Neill, Paula’s daughter and designated heir, and American Evan Hughes, pregnant with twins by her lover, Gideon Harte. Linnet has just married Julian Kallinski, scion of a family branch to be exploited in future titles, no doubt. As Linnet cooks up ideas to revamp the store (though her mother is determined to keep Harte in its “traditional mode”), Evan prepares to have her twins while planning for her imminent wedding (postponed so as not to compete with Linnet’s). Jack Figg, head of Harte security, naturally worries about the event, since there are jealous, troublesome siblings to deal with, such as Gideon’s brother Toby and Evan’s crass 23-year-old sister Angharad. Meanwhile, India Standish, Emma’s great-grandchild, hopes to wed famous artist Russell Rhodes, aka Dusty, although he has first to deal with the fallout from his previous druggie girlfriend, Melinda Caldwell. Tessa Fairley, last seen recovering her kidnapped daughter Adele, pines for new boyfriend Jean-Claude Deleon, a renowned French journalist posted to Afghanistan. Jonathan and Angharad seal a dark and ominous deal that will certainly come to light in the next installment.
Marriages, babies, rivals—and none of it will leave the slightest trace after the book is closed.