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.
Brook has grown up in the palace of Monaco under the protection of the royal family although she isn’t related. In fact, she doesn’t know if she has any relations until Lord Justin Harlow, her friend since childhood, returns to Monaco and tells her he has managed to locate her father … and she’s not plain Lizette Brook, but Elizabeth Brook Eden, daughter of an Earl, and a Baroness in her own right.
Justin takes Brook back to Whitby, in Yorkshire, to meet her family, but not everything goes smoothly. The staff don’t like her, her mother’s diary goes missing, and someone attacks her in the barn. He claims she has something he wants, but Brook has never heard of it (not surprising if he speaks with a broad Yorkshire accent—I still remember my first visit to Whitby. I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying for the first day or so).
The Lost Heiress was historical romantic suspense at its finest, with plenty of romance and plenty of suspense. Brook was an adventurous young woman for her time, the product of someone raised by an actress (at a time when actresses weren’t respected at all), and raised in and around Monaco’s royal family. She has long been encouraged in her adventures by Justin, who is an excellent hero with a deep Christian faith. That was one of the things I liked best about The Lost Heiress: the main characters were all strong Christians (however unlikely that might seem!), a pleasant change from some of the “Christian” fiction I’ve come across recently.
The novel is set in 1910, the height of Edwardian England, an age of elegance many of us will recognise from the early series of Downton Abbey (and it has a similar upstairs/downstairs feel, with Irish maid Deidre O’Malley as one of the main characters). The historical research was excellent—I hadn’t realised the Grimaldi family had such a history of, ahem, dysfunction. However, the research never overwhelmed the plot.
One thing which bugged me was the use of “Duke” as a nickname. It’s a title, like President, and being used as a nickname is about as realistic as referring to the US President as “Pres.” Actually, most of the nicknames bugged me, especially “Duke” calling his future father-in-law, “Whit.” He’s Lord Whitby, or simply Whitby to those equal in rank. The ranks and addresses were correct—thankfully. That's something a lot of American authors get wrong, despite the information being easy to find online.
The writing was excellent, and I particularly liked the secondary characters … well, except for the evildoer, who we’re not supposed to like! I’ll look forward to seeing more of these characters in future novels in The Ladies of the Manor series, especially Mellissa, Brice, and Ella.
Recommended for fans of Carrie Turansky and Downton Abbey. Thanks to Bethany House and Litfuse for providing a free ebook for review.
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