Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?
The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.
When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame... and which brother to trust with her heart?
My thoughts: Julie's writing is so easy to read, and the story lines are captivating. If you like story lines that are historic and mysterious, you will enjoy her work. With that being said, I have to say I was not a fan at all of the summary of the book that is written on the back of the book. I don't feel it encapsulates the heart of the novel at all! The summary doesn't do the story justice.
Here's what you need to know: this story involves many, many characters. First, there are the four brothers. Then, there's Emma, her father and her aunt. Then there's the baronet, his wife and his ex-wife (though to be fair, his ex-wife is deceased). At the baronet's home, he employs many, and there's also guests of the manor and Mr. Teague. All of these characters absolutely play important roles in this story. The back of the book certainly doesn't tell you about all of them, or even half.
And the story really isn't necessarily about which brother to trust and which to blame. It's more about getting to know someone you may have thought you knew before but maybe didn't. It's about learning the truth, even when it seems no one is being honest or straight forward. And it's about learning to enjoy your lot in life, whatever it may be.
Thanks to Bethany House Publishing Group for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.