This post is part of the Ultimate Blog Tour for the novel. Thank you to Penguin and The Write Reads for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Avery Grambs has her life turned upside down when multi-billionaire Tobias Hawthorne, who she has no recollection of ever having met, leaves her his fortune. The inheritance comes with one condition - she has to live at Hawthorne House with his family for one year. This might sound like a simple enough task, but she is less than welcome as the usurper of their inheritance. What follows is a race to discover why Tobias chose Avery as his heir, with plenty of twists, turns, and assassination attempts along the way.
Avery is depicted as intelligent and kind from the start. Life hasn’t dealt her the easiest of hands but she works hard and looks out for those less fortunate than herself. The Hawthornes, by contrast, have become accustomed to a life of luxury and have their share of dark secrets haunting them. Tobias’ four grandsons are exceptional, quirky, and irresistibly attractive. They come across as confident and self-assured, but there are weaknesses in their shining veneer. Avery soon comes to realise that the upbringing that made them excel at so many things also put untold pressure on them and made them ruthlessly competitive. They see Avery as their grandfather’s final puzzle for them and and she fights to be seen as a player, a person, rather than just a clue, a mystery to be solved.
She is warned that the brothers are dangerous and that she shouldn’t get too close. The mystery of Emily, their last infatuation, who passed away after spending too much time at the house, haunts them all. This strain of the novel is reminiscent of du Maurier’s Rebecca - an enigmatic former lover that continues to obsess those left behind. Never is the comparison as apparent as during Avery’s first ball when her outfit is remarkably familiar to the Hawthornes.
Hawthorne House is the mystifying heart of the novel. The sprawling estate contains not only theatres, bowling alleys, and numerous libraries, but also a plethora of hidden passageways and secret compartments. Tobias would add a new room or wing every year, resulting in an eclectic compendium of every kind of room imaginable. It simultaneously makes you want to step into the book and explore its secrets yet knowing it would keep you constantly on edge, never knowing if you were truly alone.
An enjoyable read that will keep you guessing. The characters are interesting but their inner lives are second to the mystery. A far-fetched tale but one you can’t help but find yourself involved in, wondering who Avery can trust, and as eager for answers as the Hawthornes.
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