Setting: London, present day and early 20th century
Sensuality Rating: 5
Bestselling author Brenda Joyce makes her hardcover debut with The Third Heiress, a tale of suspense and romance that spans a century. Following a car crash, professional dancer Jill Gallagher holds her dying fiancé in her arms as he whispers, "I love you... Kate." Left with the wretched task of returning Hal's body to London and the aristocratic Sheldon family, Jill encounters hostility, malevolence, and a 90-year-old mystery involving a beautiful young American woman named Kate Gallagher and her impossible love affair with Edward Sheldon, Viscount Braxton.
A tangled web of love, lies, and murder begins to unravel as Jill digs into the scandal, revealing that very little has changed in the century since Kate Gallagher first caught Edward Sheldon's fancy--especially when the blue-blooded family lineage is threatened by an American upstart. When someone begins warning Jill off her research by ransacking her rented flat and slicing her car brakes, she isn't sure if Hal's American-born cousin Alex Preston is friend or foe. Alex claims to want to help, but Jill suspects that he is not telling her the truth. And with the threats against her life intensifying, Jill is running out of options quickly. A well-crafted novel infused with passion and suspense, The Third Heiress will both delight Joyce's devoted fans and attract new readers. --Alison Trinkle
From Publishers Weekly
The heroine of romance novelist Joyce's (The Finer Things) hardcover debut thinks she will live happily ever after, and instead unearths a nest of family secrets. Born into a working-class family, talented ballerina-turned-Broadway-dancer Jill Gallagher is ecstatic with her new fianc?, aristocratic Brit Harold "Hal" Sheldon. But as they drive along a New York highway, he breaks off their engagement, saying he wants to return to his family in London. A devastated Jill turns to confront himAand wraps the car around a tree. Though Jill escapes unscathed, Hal dies in her arms, his last words, "I love you... Kate." Accompanying Hal's body to London, Jill obsesses: who is Kate? Was Hal leaving her for another woman? Hal's family blames Jill for the accident, except for his cousin Alex Preston, who's just a bit less prickly than the Sheldons. In Hal's old bedroom, Jill discovers a 1906 photo of two young women, Kate Gallagher and Anne Bensonhurst. Anne was Hal's grandmother, but Kate, a nouveau-riche American heiress (with Jill's last name), mysteriously disappeared the year she turned 18. As Jill abandons her life in New York in her single-minded hunt for Kate (whom she believes is her own ancestor), Alex becomes a provocateur, helper and saboteur on the case. The mystery deepens when Jill finds a decapitated cat on her porch and discovers that the brakes on her car are cut. Joyce's occasionally trite prose ("Hal is dead. Ghosts make poor lovers") is easily ignored as she blends the stories of Jill and Kate, piecing together sexual intrigue, betrayals and century-old coverups that connect them. This genealogical thriller is a page turner that should please the readers of Joyce's previous 24 paperback romances (with seven million copies in print) and could perhaps prove her breakout novel. (Sept.) in August, and Joyce's Web site (www.brendajoyce.com) is already advertising her hardcover launch.
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