First, thanks to Delacorte Press and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this. I got a bit nervous when someone said they’d seen some not so good reviews. But then I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of the book Amber House by Kelly Moore, Larkin Reed, and Tucker Reed. I also think that the comparison to Downton Abbey was fair, in that the main character had to learn about all the different things the English peerage does. And they talked about other abbeys so that was cool as well.
The main character is Imogen, and while her father is from a wealthy English family, he’s the son of a duke actually, they live in New York City. But they do go visit their family every summer. Imogen loves her cousin Lucia, who is a few years older than her, but close enough in age that they are still great friends and confidantes whenever they’re together. There is also the family friends who have two sons, Sebastian and Theo. Sebastian is Lucia’s age, but Imogen feels like they always have a connection. Things are wonderful until the summer that Imogen is seven years old. This year something weird happens, when she touches the ground, a flower just grows out of nowhere, in seconds. And then later she creates fire with her hands. She begs Lucia and Sebastian not to tell anyone else. But later during their stay, there is a fire in the maze on the property, and the tragedy is that both Imogen and Lucia’s parents are in their and they don’t make it out. Imogen is so upset that she only wants to go back to NYC where she will now live with her parents’ friends the Marinos. She lives the next 10 years, only thinking about the family home when she has nightmares about her parents’ deaths. But this end of her senior year, things will change. She gets a call from someone in England, and then there is a letter that shows up. But her guardians tell her it is someone who is harassing her, as her family are quite the celebrities in England.
She finds out that not only did her cousin Lucia pass away a year ago, but now her grandfather has died, which leaves Imogen as the only heir to the property. And they need her to come back to England and be the duchess. But when she gets there she finds that her cousin’s death may not have been an accident, not to mention there may be more to the story of her parents’ death. She is nervous about seeing Sebastian again, as the last she had seen online, he and Lucia had been a couple. And it seems that there are others around the estate that are not happy to have here there either.
The end twist was pretty good. I didn’t catch it, and I like that it was such a shock. I love that it also ended in a way that it is a standalone book. A great mystery, with a fun look at the workings of an English estate from the point of view of an outsider, like I would be. Definitely recommended to people who enjoy romantic suspense for YA. A tiny bit of supernatural with the touching the soil to cause growth and some fire production, but not so much that it made it a supernatural type of story. And I don’t say that’s bad, I like both types of stories.