From Publishers Weekly
The doyenne of popular women's fiction (Just Rewards
) returns with the first installment of a projected trilogy centering on internecine power struggles within the early 20th century incarnation of the centuries-old Deravenel clan and their London-based family business. A suspicious hotel fire causes the death of patriarch Richard Deravenel along with that of one of his sons, his brother-in-law and his young nephew, forcing tall, handsome, bright, seductive, 17-year old Edward Deravenel out of Oxford into the world of commerce. He and cousin Neville Watkins (a successful businessman in his own right) plot to avenge their fathers' and brothers' deaths and seize the company, currently under the stewardship of a delusional absentee executive whose ambitious (and French) wife is behind the skullduggery. Edward's longtime friend, Will Hasling, also joins the fray, and Neville has his own motivations. Along the way, there are libidinous liaisons, wicked plots, personal catastrophes, a secret "love child" and lessons aplenty about the consequences of ruthless ambition. Expect strong, two-dimensional characters; tasteful and adroit sex; repetitive exchanges; a plot rich with period detail and reasonably backed-up friction. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Having concluded the long-running Harte saga in Just Rewards
(2006), Bradford now introduces a new family, the Deravenels. Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, the novel opens with a tragedy: the death of 17-year-old Edward Deravenel's father and brother in a mysterious fire. Edward is the true heir to the family company, but for the past 60 years it has been controlled by another branch of the family, the Grants. Edward's cousin Neville also lost his father and brother in the fire, and the two make a pact to reclaim the firm. Because Henry Grant, the current head of the company, is barely sane, the true power resides with his conniving wife, Margot, and several board members. Edward leaves Oxford to work for the company, but life isn't all work for the handsome playboy as he begins a passionate affair. Edward's enemies are determined to keep him from seizing power, and he faces both a devastating loss and a stunning betrayal. Fans of the Harte saga will find themselves in familiar territory as, once again, Bradford depicts several branches of a large family warring over a successful company. But those sorry to see the former dynasty drama conclude will be happy to have a new saga to sink their teeth into. Kristine HuntleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved