Olivia Keene’s life is turned upside down when she returns home one night to find her mother being strangled by her drunken father. On impulse she picks up an object and smacks him upside his head. As the unconscious man lays crumpled on the ground Dorothea Keene gives her daughter an odd newspaper clipping and sends her on her way to a school where she might be able to find work. Unwilling to leave her mother but afraid she has killed her father Olivia goes. Eventually she find herself on the grounds of Brightwell Court just in time to overhear something she was not suppose to. In her haste to escape before she is found, Olivia is taken prisoner and thrown in a cell with a vindictive poacher who chokes her to the point she loses her voice (like mother, like daughter, eh? Both nearly strangled to death.)
Edward Bradley has just been delivered a blow in the form of a shocking secret. He isn’t who he thought he was and now his world is falling apart around him. And to make matters worse a mute woman by the name of Olivia Keene overheard the whole thing. In an effort to hide his secret he forces Olivia into a servant’s position while he figures out what is to be done. As the whole sordid tale of Edward and Olivia’s families is unraveled it ties them together whether they like it or not.
Julie Klassen has done it again. Another intricately woven story with memorable characters and situations and a smattering of mystery. The intensity of the mystery can make a rapt reader out of someone who has a rather dull opinion of books. The story held my attention from the beginning until the end – and even at the end I was utterly surprised by something-I-will-not-say-what-because-of-spoilers. Bravo, Ms. Klassen! There were some elements I was not overly fond of and a section I found highly embarrassing; not my favorite story by this author when those incidents are taken into account. But overlooking that it was still an enjoyable read.
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