A debut for Natasha Blake, an adopted child turned professional genealogist fascinated by other people’s ancestral mysteries.
After breaking up with her boyfriend, Natasha especially welcomes the distraction of a new client, Bethany Marshall, a model in an intriguing series of photographs her edgy boyfriend Adam Mason has based on paintings by the pre-Raphaelites. Natasha meets Bethany while she poses for a re-creation of Millais’ Ophelia, the model for which was Dante’s fragile and beautiful wife Elizabeth Siddal. Almost immediately after hiring Natasha, however, Bethany disappears, and Adam insists on becoming Natasha’s client and maybe something else. As a possible clue, he gives her a 19th-century journal belonging to Bethany and perhaps written by Bethany’s ancestor. Coincidentally, the journal connects Bethany’s putative forbear with the pre-Raphaelites, especially the ill-fated Rossettis. As Natasha uncovers more about the Marshalls, she also discovers some disturbing conflicts in Bethany’s circle. Convinced that Bethany’s in danger, Natasha doesn’t know if the danger comes from something in the dead past or from the live someone who’s followed Natasha and broken into her house.
Interesting facts and speculations about the pre-Raphaelites and an appealing heroine, but the Siddal languor and artistic danger don’t quite translate into the 21st century.