An unexpected legacy rescues a London PR executive from her dreary round of romantic mishaps and sends her off to Exmoor, where mold, mildew and true love await.
Kate Jennings’ grandmother sees no reason why she should wait till she’s dead to provide for her five granddaughters. So she sends them each £125,000 and invites them to do whatever they like with it. Instead of treating herself to a world cruise as therapy for the unsuitable men on whom she’s wasted three of her prime years, Kate decides to purchase Little’s Cottage in Bursford, not far from where her builder father grew up, and take a six-month leave of absence from her job. The place needs work, but she has the skills and the time for the “Cinderella Project” of restoration. After all, it’s not as if she’s going to be spending the rest of her life in Exmoor, she reflects, as God and the gentle reader laugh. Soon enough, Kate meets unsought complications. She babysits Dommie and Hayley, the children of her neighbors Kay and Darren Tonkin, in return for laundry services. Lady Camilla Blackmore, widow of the local gentry, latches onto her and takes her into her circle. Camilla’s younger son, Jack, courts Kate, or at least flirts madly with her, just as he’s done with everyone in skirts ever since his divorce. His older brother Edward, a Byronic type who turns Kate’s knees weak, smolders and glowers. House parties are organized; a point-to-point horse race, as well. Beautiful Addison Bruckmeyer, Ed’s poisonous London attorney, sweeps into Blackmore Hall with her heart, if she has one, clearly set on marrying the heir. Someone leaves anonymous notes warning Kate to sell the cottage and leave.
There’s never much doubt where all this is heading. But romancer Harrod-Eagles, who also writes Inspector Bill Slider’s whodunits (Blood Never Dies, 2013, etc.), updates Jane Austen so gently and firmly that fans will lap it up.