For several reasons, this book never took off for me. I found the plot to be so-so, the characters incomplete, and the writing style distracting. If you are a fan, you may have a truly different reading experience than I had. This may be one of those books where the joy is in the eye of the beholder.
Handsome, high-powered estate planner Trace Ballinger, is attorney for the aging Cora Grant. When the wealthy Mrs. Grant dies, Trace must deal with the late widow’s great-niece, the beautiful Schuyler, a woman he finds both disturbing and alluring. Schuyler represents everything in life Trace was denied – until he drove himself to success.
Schuyler, who lives in Paris and has only returned to attend her great-aunt’s funeral, is an art consultant to the Louvre. For nine years, ever since the deaths of her parents and brother in a boating accident, Schuyler has made a recluse of herself, not daring to love anyone for fear of losing them. When she meets Trace, her guard begins to waver and she finds herself in his arms, eagerly and willingly, after knowing him only a few days.
Grantwood, the family’s Hudson River estate, was built by during the Gilded Age, but now its palatial beauty is crumbling to ruins after years of neglect. It would cost a fortune to re-establish the place to its former glory, but while Schuyler ponders what to do with Grantwood, several attempts are made on her life. At night, there are strange lights and noises on the grounds. Could the estate be haunted? Ghosts at Grantwood? Well, Crazy Cora thought there were, enough to ask Schuyler to “put the ghosts to rest” in her last missive to her great-niece.
I mentioned above that I found the plot to be so-so. The mystery is enough to keep you turning the pages, but it never amounts to much when all is said and done. And the culmination of the whole thing is downright silly. Incomplete characters, I said. While Trace and Schuyler are okay, and their one love scene is fine, secondary characters are either plastic or make no sense at all. I liked Adam Coffin and his dog, Moose, however.
And then there’s the writing style. The author often resorts to parentheses and hyphens and odd descriptions to drive a point home to the reader. This kind of device takes me right out of the story:
“Cora LeMasters Grant, gnarled, arthritic hands folded on her lap, had leaned forward in a chair that was even older than she was – Trace figured the ornate piece of furniture was museum quality and probably from the period of a French Louis – and said, ‘I’ve heard you’re brilliant.'”
“Schuyler’s mouth suddenly went dry. She couldn’t seem to swallow; there was a lump wedged in her throat. Her heart was in her stomach; her stomach plummeted to the floor of the rental car…”
“There were only his blue jeans, and whatever he wore under them, and the thin layer of her slacks and the even thinner layer of her panties separating them.”
Sheesh, is that all; everything but the kitchen sink. How erotic. But my favorite is this – I actually laughed out loud:
“This time he used his mouth instead of his hands, raining a shower of kisses along her forehead, the curve of her cheekbone, that delicate place at the base of her throat, the sensitive spot below her ear, her bare shoulder, her elbow, her ribcage, her breast, where he lingered before moving on to her slender waist, her thigh, her knee, her ankle, even her foot. Then he began again, returning up the other side.”
Geez. I think you missed her spleen.
Well, what can I say? I found all this stuff distracting and whether or not you do will depend on what you’re looking for in a good read. I didn’t find what I was looking for, so there you have it.