A debut romantic mystery that spans centuries, with a modern love story at its center.
Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham, has been wining and dining the loveliest stars in the Hollywood firmament since his beloved wife, Deborah, died almost 10 years ago at the Abbey, their English country estate. But Nicholas’ life isn’t all glitz and glamour: His grief, and his conviction that Deborah’s close friend, Princess Diana, was murdered, has left him with a heavy emotional burden. In addition, his 15-year-old ward, Lucy, who’s deep into drugs, alcohol and teen angst, has been sent away from her boarding school. Then Taylor Collins, one of the most highly accomplished young lawyers in her American firm, arrives to mediate the sale of the Abbey. She doesn’t fall immediately for the duke, as most women do, but maintains a chilly distance, as she’s nursing her own heartbreak and grieving the loss of a treasured friend. But when Taylor stays with Nicholas at the Abbey to look over ancient land documents, she finds, to her surprise, that she not only feels compassion for the pain Nicholas has experienced, but also a growing attraction to him. Taylor’s discovery of Nicholas’ 16th-century ancestor’s personal diary reveals a tumultuous love affair and a murder accusation. How exactly did Deborah die, and has Nicholas been telling the truth about Lucy’s parentage? Furthermore, Nicholas believes that the princess of Wales left behind an audiotape naming those who wanted her dead—and that Mari, Taylor’s late friend, had the tape among her possessions. Was Mari, thought to be a victim of a botched burglary, actually murdered? Hawkins delivers an efficient, suspenseful tale that weaves together the past and the present. The prose is lively, if not poetic, and its atmospheric descriptions of the Abbey not only bring to life the contemporary love story between Nicholas and Taylor, but also add richness to the ancient tale that Taylor uncovers. It’s a great book for a long journey, as it’s both easy to read and intellectually gratifying. Although the ending is rather abrupt and somewhat heavy on the explication, its emotional payoff is well worth it.
British history and contemporary conspiracy collide in this satisfying novel.