Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: The Debutante
Author: Kathleen Tessaro
Release Date: September 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Women's Fiction
Year/Setting: Present day, London
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle/Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Moderate/Extreme
Violent Content Rating: Minimal/Moderate
Kathleen's Website/Blog: www.harpercollins.com/authors/Kathleen_Tessaro
I have had the sheer luck of reading Ms. Tessaro’s first novels: The Flirt; Innocence; and, Elegance, and have become quite a fan of hers. In fact, with this new story, I can give this author one of my highest compliments – I most definitely wish I was actually there with her characters.
At #13 Jockey’s Fields, in a lopsided building painted black, there lives a business by the name of Deveraux & Diplock, Valuers & Auctioneers of Quality. (I love the author’s turn of phrase here when she says that this company is the "undertakers for antiquities" and a "dying art for a dying class").
Rachel Deveraux is the owner of this company, left to her by her late husband, Paul. Jack Coates is a man with indigo eyes and aquiline features who works for Rachel, and is on his way to an old estate where he will catalog and price all the objects left behind. He’s quite happy about the job, seeing as that Jack is a man who likes, very much, to spend his time by himself and left alone. Unfortunately, this job turns into a real pain when Rachel announces that he will have an assistant for this journey – her niece, Cate Albion from New York City. Much to Jack’s dismay he can’t get out of this assignment and prepares himself for what he’s sure will be a loud-mouthed American who bothers him while he’s trying to work.
When Carte arrives, she’s far different than what Jack thought she’d be. She’s elegant, calming, quiet, and tries not to bother him at all. In fact, what she tries with all her might is to be his friend and learn a little something from him. When they arrive at Endsliegh, they meet up with the only other person who will be on the property while they’re there – a housekeeper named Jo Williams who is a great cook and a lot of fun.
As they walk through the cold, reverent home, Cate marvels at the vaulted ceilings, marble busts, and Italian rose gardens. What she doesn’t count on is the fact that she will stumble across a small locked room filled with children’s books, furniture and a buried shoebox that holds a pair of silver dancing shoes; an emerald, diamond and pearl Tiffany bracelet; a tiny key; a photograph of a stunning sailor; and, a faded badge. From here, a story begins to unravel about the two sisters who were a part of this very beautiful house long ago. Lady Avondale (known as Irene Blythe) was the good, solid wife of a good, important man. Her sister was the infamous Diana Blythe who mysteriously disappeared a while ago; some people believe she ran away, while others believe the poor woman was murdered.
While Cate’s secrets begin to emerge, Jack’s do as well, and they find themselves trying with all their might to figure out why there is such a deep, demanding attraction and connection between them. While working on their own desperate hearts, they also find the amazing story of the Blythe sisters unfolding around them.
Part romance, part mystery, part historical – this book has it all. I not only wanted to be there walking around the gardens of Endsliegh, I was actually heartbroken when I came to the last page and the journey was over. Yes…it was THAT good! My thanks to Ms. Tessaro for yet another "homerun."
Until next time,
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