Abigail Foster is the very sensible daughter of wealthy parents living in London on the verge of financial ruin, in the early 1800’s. She senses that her pretty, younger sister may have more opportunities to marry than herself, after seeing her flirting with Abigail’s young male companion. She feels she may end up a spinster, since there will be no dowry, due to bad investments. As Abigail and her father look for less costly and more affordable lodgings, an offer from a distant relative brings new hope. They travel to Pembrooke Park to find an elegant manor house on a large estate, sitting empty for the past eighteen years, with an offer to them to live there for a year to help keep the house from falling to ruin. It is almost an answer to a prayer. However, she finds that no one will talk about the past or the secret, as she and her family begin to move into their new lodgings. She soon meets the caretaker’s family and also the handsome, young son who is the local curate. Although this family is aware of the secret of the estate, they issue stern warnings to Abigail about strangers approaching the home, and of rumors of a secret room full of treasure! Hoping to restore the family’s financial status, Abigail is intrigued about the secret room and begins her own private search. Along the way, she makes new friends and meets new family members. She is invited to parties and finds, to her delight, young men interested in her and not her sister. She finds she is enjoying the new life she now has living in the manor.
He said, “You know, I quite liked doing it. I must say I was surprised by the surge of…em, patronage I felt. I suppose this is what it must feel to be of manor born, to experience a paternal fondness for one’s tenants and neighbors. A compulsion toward condensation and benevolence. Yes, I could get used to be lord of Pembrooke Park.”
The author has written a pleasant, historical novel filled with great mystery and intrigue. It unfolded and flowed nicely until the final chapter, which seemed to be a little bit rushed to tidy up all of the loose strings. However, this is a very enjoyable book to read.
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