Steel (Lone Eagle, p. 140, etc.) proves you can go home again—provided you have $10 million.
Marie-Ange is the youngest child of French beauty Francois and WWII soldier John Hawkes. Parachuted behind the German lines, John found himself hung in a tree with a broken leg until Françoise rescued him. A practical Frenchwoman never wastes a handsome man, and so she persuaded her parents to hide him. After the Allies liberated France, the two married; John bought a wine business and Château de Marmouton; and the couple prospered—along with their two lovely children, Robert and Marie-Ange, who followed. The family led a charmed life until tragedy struck: John, Françoise, and Robert were killed in an accident, and the 11-year-old Marie-Ange was sent to the US to her sole surviving relative, her great-aunt Carole. Carole was mean, grasping, and weird, though she got around her Iowa farm plenty fast for someone in a wheelchair, and did her utmost to make Marie-Ange’s life hell, selling her little smocked dresses to a thrift store and waving a shotgun at anyone who dared to visit. But the lonely girl found a true friend in Billy Parker, a good-as-gold farmboy. They grew up. And then, when Marie is 21, a lawyer finally informs her that the trust fund her parents left is now worth over $10 million. She returns to Château de Marmouton, by this time owned by the suave and handsome Comte Bernard de Beauchamp. They eventually marry, also have two lovely children, and also lead an idyllic life—until a mysterious woman tells Marie-Ange a wild tale of attempted murder, arson, and infanticide. Are Marie-Ange and her children in danger? Is Bernard so deeply in debt that he’d do anything, even kill, to extricate himself? Will good old Billy Parker be waiting in the wings to help her figure it all out?
Long on exposition, short on character, and sketchy, with a French setting as Gallic as Cheez-Whiz. Even diehard fans of the megaselling Steel may find it thin.