The Lost Heiress
Albert Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Which proves that I’m a little bit crazy about Downton Abbey. It seems that every time someone uses the term “for fans of Downton Abbey” I rush out to get whatever it is. Sounds logical given that I am a fan of the show, right? Wrong. It just proves I’m a sucker for good marketing, hence this review of a book that doesn’t really resemble Downton Abbey at all.
Brook Eden is a Princess of Monaco – but not really. While she has been raised with all the privileges of such a young woman she is in fact, at best, the bastard daughter of the heir to the throne. While the heir denies paternity, his father adores Brook and has seen she receives the best of everything. Still, she’s unsure of her future and so gives her best friend Justin, heir to an English duchy, some letters she has from her mother. These letters are her only clue to her past. Justin’s research shows her to be the long lost daughter of a wealthy English peer and Brook leaves the sunny Mediterranean coast to meet the Earl of Whitby and see if he is, indeed, her father.
Lord Whitby has had his heart broken many times by imposters so he did a bit of research about Brook before she was invited to visit. That investigation and her appearance (she’s an exact replica of his wife) convinces him she’s his daughter and he welcomes her with open arms. His sister, who was a dear friend of his wife, is convinced by Brook’s voice. She sounds just like her mother. It turns out that Brook is not a bastard daughter of a singer but the daughter of the Earl and his wife who disappeared after her mother died in a carriage accident. And as easily as that, Brook becomes the heir to a vast and wealthy estate.
At this point Brook keeps being referred to as a Baroness, which really confused me. All the research I did on line confirmed what I had always understood to be the case; the daughter of an Earl is called a Lady, the wife of the Earl is a Countess, his mother the Dowager Countess. A Baroness is the wife of a Baron but is addressed as Lady. So the title confused me; I didn’t grade off for it but I thought it worth mentioning.
Back to our story. It isn’t all sunshine and roses for Brook once she is accepted. The servants still suspect her and she finds it hard to get a decent cup of coffee as a result but really, things go pretty smoothly. Except for Justin. His father died in a car crash just as Brook left Monaco and now his grandfather dies and suddenly Justin is a duke. He goes from being her best friend to being cold and distant overnight. This is because Justin loves her but doesn’t think she loves him and of course, talking to her is out of the question. Brook loves Justin but doesn’t think he loves her and of course saying something is out of the question. They have a few adventures involving an attack on Brook, conniving cousins, cursed jewels and a kidnapping but after a year or so of bickering to hide their emotions they finally hold a conversation and get their HEA.
This was a really hard read for me. It’s not that it was a bad book per se but the abundant overuse of trope really dragged the read out. There’s a way to do a big misunderstanding so that your characters don’t look like idiots, but that’s not what happened here. Brook and Justin had numerous opportunities to share their feelings and they choose to bicker and hurt each other instead. Both of them fell back on pride and dishonesty numerous times when the simple truth would have resolved everything. That resulted in close to four hundred pages of missed opportunities for a simple discussion which just about drove me mad. I felt the trope was especially awkward here due to the fact that this is an Inspirational. Honesty is a supposed to be a Christian virtue but here the truth was played fast and loose with on a seemingly regular basis.
Speaking of Christianity, this is the second Inspirational I’ve read where there has been no explanation of what drives characters in the British peerage to devout Christianity. Evangelical style faith was not typical of the upper classes in England at this time and I think such an historical anomaly does require justification. Especially in this novel, where their faith is what supposedly made them good guardians for the cursed jewels since prayer was required to keep the stones evil power in check (snort).
On the plus side, as I said before, it isn’t a bad book. The prose is smooth. The plot is very typical of a historical romance novel and the characters are straight out of romance central casting. While the latter might not sound like positives they certainly earn the book an average grade, which is what it received.
Typically, I enjoy Inspirational historical romances because they move outside standard romance novel plots. It’s hard for me therefore to recommend this one which is essentially average fare without the sex. If you’re a fan of the big misunderstanding trope than maybe the book is for you; otherwise I’d give it a miss.