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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews Imogen Rockford's teenage life is very different than her childhood one was. After her parent's death, she was ushered away to live with her new guardians and live a typical New York life. She was haunted by her parents death, but she has done her best to move and has managed to build herself a normal life. Then she learns that the rest of her family has died (which consisted of a Grandfather and a cousin) and she now much become the Duchess and take control of the family estate in England. As soon as Imogen makes it home to Rockford Manor, she realizes that something is quite off and until she figures out what is behind it all, she is in very real danger. Can she be figure out the mystery or will she fall prey to the bad guy(s)?
Imogen was a character I liked immediately. She's made the best of a bad situation and she's worked hard to leave the past in the past. Now, she's stepping up to save her family home and she is swamped with guilt for not keeping up with her relatives. Lucia's life could have turned out vastly different if Imogen had just keep in contact. But ignoring her family was the best way to avoid thinking about her parents deaths, something that was incredibly difficult to overcome. Everything in Rockford Manor is so different and so incredibly the same. It's a lot to take in and then we add Sebastian in the mix and things get even worse. Sebastian was her childhood crush. Sebastian is also Lucia's grieving boyfriend. Right before her parents death, Lucia's announcement that she planned to pursue Sebastian caused a small rift. Sebastian was Imogen's special someone and how could Lucia not see that? Apparently Sebastian didn't see it either, though, because he was clearly in love with Lucia by all accounts. That makes things even more difficult because from the moment she sees him, she knows she never got over that crush. She knows that said crush may have morphed into more after years of pining. Said crush may be the reason that she never had a boyfriend in New York or really seemed to have to urge to find one.
Speaking of Sebastian...
If you ever become and actual person and not just an imaginary character in an amazing novel, give me a call....wait, I don't think my husband would approve of that. NEVERMIND! Sebastian was a difficult character to get a handle on because at first he seems to like her and then once she becomes the Duchess he's so standoffish that I want to punch him. And then he's not. And then he's helpful. And then he's doing things I can't mention because of the spoilers. Let's just say the more you see of him, the more swoon-worthy he comes, k?
When I read the synopsis of this, I knew instantly that I wanted to read it, that I needed to read it. Contemporary Downton Abbey with a supernatural twist and an epic romance?
Not many novels live up to the tag lines they get, but this one does. This was far better than I expected. Even with the annoying love triangle aspect, I was still enthralled. Okay, I'll admit I was a bit enthralled by the love triangle, because, you know, Sebastian is going to end up with Imogen, right? He loves her, right?
This thing has enough mystery and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The whole dynamic between Imogen and the manor and the servants and Sebastian is fulled with just the right amount of tension. I especially love the relationship between Imogen and Lucia (prior to her death, naturally). You don't get to see much of it, but it's obvious they were close and Imogen blames herself for so much even though it is obvious none of it is her fault.
GRRRHHH...This review is so hard to write when I'm giving away spoilers. I'm trying to avoid spoilers because it makes posting the review elsewhere difficult, but this is so intricate that minor comments I make could be constituted as spoilers. The mystery here is so good and you don't really see it come (or at least I didn't) and the magic is so underplayed instead of making it the center of the novel like I expected it. I loved that. The magic is there, but it's not the main thing and it's not at the heart of the problem.
What should you take from this slightly convoluted review? This novel is awesome. It somehow manages to give you contemporary with a historical feel and the perfect mystery to keep you ignoring life for just one more chapter. It's that amazing, need to read quality that we all look for in a novel. What more could you want? This has hot British boys, mystery, romance, and magic! And it's a stand-alone, so it's blessedly cliffhanger free. Seriously, it's perfect, so go grab a copy!
****Thank you to Delacorte Press and Random House Children's for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****