Saturday, September 19, 2015

'The Lost Heiress' by Roseanna M White


Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.
As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?
And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

This is a charming story set in the early 1900s. The heroine discovers two things; her lost identity and her changing feelings toward the young man she's regarded more as a brother since they were both children. It has a cast of well-rounded supporting characters from both their families, including a villain who's a bit like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

Brook is an easy heroine to like. Novels with that setting and period are already full of English heroines, so her foreign characteristics make an interesting change. Having been brought up in Monaco, she comes across as very continental. (I was trying to pronounce 'Justin' the way Brook did, but although the French accent was described in detail, I just couldn't get it.) We get the benefits of her comparisons between coastal France and the Yorkshire moors, where she ends up with her long lost family. She's really sweet, but also shrewd enough to read people well and make things happen without throwing her weight around.

I like the 'Upstairs Downstairs' aspect of the story, and the fact that some servants and staff are main characters too, especially Deirdre, Brook's Irish maid. Both girls become involved in some old danger which was responsible for the death of Brook's mother, but of which she knew nothing.

My curiosity about the early twentieth century was piqued. How does Justin get his Rolls Royce across the channel? He was driving it in Monaco and then shows up with it in Yorkshire. What were ferry systems like back then? And why did so many otherwise kindhearted people participate freely in barbaric events such as the fox hunt, a tradition which is thankfully outlawed now.

I'm sure the cast of supporting characters will become main characters of several sequels.

Thanks to Bethany House and Net Galley for my review copy.

4 stars

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