Thursday, April 21, 2011
Some might call it running away . . .
But after a scandalous Hollywood divorce, Blythe Stowe considered it damage control for body and soul. The pain, the humiliation, the daily tabloids shouting details as her famous husband dumped her for her own sister demanded a serious getaway: to the wild coast of Cornwall and a cottage by the sea that her Wyoming grandmother claimed had been home to her ancestors.
Some might call it chance . . .
But Blythe encountered more than just a quaint retreat nestled amid vivid skies and gorgeous ocean. And she had the odd sensation that her wickedly handsome neighbor Lucas Teague was more than a British gentleman going broke. He might be her destiny . . .
Another Ciji Ware winner that swept me away! I totally enjoyed this story of a young woman who leaves Hollywood and her messy divorce behind to the shores of Cornwall, England where she eerily experiences the life of her ancestor who lived on the very land where she rents a cottage for the summer. She also meets her handsome landlord - lord of the manor - who has his own demons and memories to overcome. A good book that got me from the very beginning!
Blythe Barton Stowe needs to get away from Hollywood - and her no good ex-husband, a famous Oscar-winning British film director. Cornwall is the perfect place to get away from it all, far the madding crowd so she can lick her wounds and get on with her life in peace and quiet. She's somewhat shell shocked due to the publicity of her divorce and the fact her ex wasted no time in marrying her pregnant sister. They married literally hours after the final divorce decree.
While in Cornwall, Blythe meets the handsome owner of the estate where she is renting a cottage for the summer. They hit it off immediately. While touring his grand home that has seen better days, she becomes hypnotized while reviewing a large genealogy chart on the wall of his library. Blythe notices that some of the names are familiar on the chart, another Blythe Barton from over two hundred years ago is on it. There seem to be other similarities as well. Upon touching an engraved name on the chart, our Blythe is transported somehow in time to that person's life. Blythe witnesses the goings on of the first Blythe's history as if watching the action of a movie. No coincidence that Blythe worked for her husband as his set director.
And so sets the tone of the book. Blythe repeats this process a few times and learns about what happened to the ancestors that lived on the estate long, long ago. Their tale is all tangled up, an unhappy forced marriage, marital betrayals between two siblings, not unlike Blythe's own experience with her sister, and the answer to the long lost tale of whatever happened to Blythe's ancestors and how they came to live in America. As much as I was into the eighteenth century story, I preferred Blythe's own modern day story involving her romance with her landlord turned business partner, Lucas Teague. Ironic, since I usually prefer historicals.
Lucas, though lord of the manor, is not a rich aristocratic. He's an average man, a widower, who's trying to keep his ancestral property from taxes and ruin. He also needs some healing after dealing with the death of his wife to cancer and the ordeal of raising his son, Richard, as a single parent - a task he is having a hard time with. He and Blythe become friends and she comes up with an idea that he should start a nursery gardening business on his property that will pay for it's upkeep. Meanwhile, Lucas' young son is staying with him for the summer during the school break and Blythe is curious about their seemingly strained relationship. She can't help but notice that Richard is in great need of love and attention, yet Lucas seems incapable of showing it to his son. That British stiff upper lip and all that kind of nonsense. What's the problem here and how can Blythe help without interfering where she's not wanted? Plus, what does his son's godmother, an aristocratic perfectly manicured bitch in her Jaguar mean to Lucas? It's obvious she has designs on him, but does he have a romantic interest in her? Better yet, does he have romantic designs on Blythe?
Sure enough, all our questions are answered. I loved their modern day story and the way it paralleled Blythe's eighteenth century genetic memories or whatever they are. I devoured this book and loved it! What sucked me in was the slow and burgeoning relationship that develops between Blythe and Lucas. I was really rooting for them and couldn't wait to see what happened between them! Their characters were well drawn, I sympathized with them, I didn't want their part of the story to end! Of course, I always focus on the love interest! But, it wasn't just that, I liked the whole package: Blythe, Lucas, his son, the housekeeper and her husband, the bitchy godmother (who I loved to hate, btw) and last but not least Blythe's shameless ex-husband who comes to visit in Cornwall asking for a favor! I found all of it riveting and hard to put down!
Although, as much as I loved reading about the modern day Blythe and her trials and tribulations, I can't say the same about the first Blythe Barton. She was selfish and impulsive and I felt she got what she deserved. To make matters worse, I did not like the idea that the author married her off to one of my favorite characters in another of her books, Island of the Swans (which I loved!) No, no, no! Poor Thomas Fraser! Anyway, I digress...
I'm leaving out a lot of details but, trust me, this is a worthwhile read, one you can really get caught up in. The eighteenth century part was a bit lacking in some ways, probably because we are "watching" that part of the book as spectators and none of the characters are likable. Really, not one of them, except maybe Blythe's cousin who loved her. We don't get into the characters heads as much, so I did not have the same amount of empathy for their plight as I did for Blythe and Lucas. Still, despite what the eighteenth century part lacked, the modern part more than made up for it. I highly recommend the book as a whole. Ms. Ware is fast becoming a favorite author of mine. She has a way of luring you in and keeping you there until the final page - the sign of a fine storyteller!
Oh, and one last thing, wouldn't you know it? After I bought it for my kindle, it's offered for free! Still, I don't mind, it was a great book and I loved it!