After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they'll go to Paris, where the city's magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.
Thirty years later, Laurel's daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie's father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie's told herself it doesn't matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won't Laurel tell her the truth?
The key to unlocking Laurel's secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie's quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last. @goodreads
MY REVIEW:4 STARS
I have to say first off that the cover to this book is beautiful! The cover is what grabbed me from the beginning and then I read the blurb and thought I would like this and I certainly did.
Buy the end of the book I was rushing to see what was going on, I thought I had it figured out.. but nope.. I was wrong. Now I have to figure out what to say without spoilers :)
Laurel Haley and her daughter Annie are going to England to take care of some business. Well, this throws Annie for a loop because the business is some property her mom inherited there and didn't even tell Annie all of these years.
Annie works with her mom at Laurel's farm where she has horses she uses for medically challenged children to ride. I think this is wonderful. Annie finished college but didn't do anything further and she's getting married to Eric who is a Marine and going overseas. This is not too long after 9/11.
While the women are packing, Annie spies a blue book her mother stuck in a box. Well you know she had to dig it out and it was a story about the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie begins to read the book and tries to get information from her mother about the book, but her mother plays dumb.
When they get to England, Laurel pretty much leaves Annie on her own while she tries to set affairs in order. Annie continues to read the book and we get to look into the life of Gladys Deacon. Annie starts reading the book in a pub down the road from the Banbury Inn where she and her mom are staying. She happens to meet Gus, who seems to know all about the book a whole lot more about the Duchess.
We get to meet the wonderful Duchess of Marlborough, known as Gladys Deacon, but was called Mrs. Spencer.. yeah, I know..
The author gives some great information about Gladys in her book and on Goodreads. Anyway, she was a character in live and on the pages. I just loved her. She told it like it was, toted a shot gun, and many other things I don't want to give away.
Pru is a young lady that comes to be a caretaker/assistant to Gladys and let me tell you, that was a ride Pru never got off of :) It was hilarious!
There was a writer come to try to compile a book about Gladys, this was even more hilarious with him trying to talk to her.
WS: Note to manuscript. Mrs. Spencer smacked the table when she said the word "welcome."
GD: That table won't be the only thing smacked if you don't knock it off.
WS: Mrs. Spencer, please continue.
GD: I can't! I've completely lost my mind
WS: Most would agree.
That was a little part of an interview with Mrs. Spencer/Gladys. They went like this and they were so funny.
So Pru and the writer get along most of the time. I don't want to give out too many names in case someone figures something out. LOL
So the story goes back and forth between what happened in the past with Gladys, Pru and the writer, to Annie and Gus talking about the book.
There is a lot of mystery to this book. I think it was beautifully written and the characters are rich and I loved most of them. This is the first book I have read from this author and not the last.
Everything comes out in the end. Annie finds out who her father is.. old flames find either other again.. mysteries become solved.
And one couple lives happily ever after in Paris :) Fin
*I would like to thank NETGALLEY and ST. MARTIN'S PRESS for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.*
AMAZON LINK TO THE BOOK: