I was so hoping this book would improve off of its prequel, but unfortunately, there was little difference. Yet again, the Inghrams and the Swanns are navigating the early decades of the twentieth century, and yet again things seem to magically go their way at the most convenient time.

Miles, the heir, has been unhappily married for several years and with no children of his own to show for it. His wife (who is conveniently a witch with a b - never let it be said that the first wife via arranged marriage has any redeeming qualities) refuses to agree to a divorce. Meanwhile, Miles and Cecily, who became estranged at the end of the previous book due to him caving to pressure to make a 'suitable' match, get back together with only token hesitance from Cecily. Then, after they "suffer" through most of the book until the wife conveniently dies in an avalanche in France - just in time too because Cecily just got pregnant.

And the other Ingham ladies go through their own lackluster tribulations. Daphne and Charlotte struggle to run Cavendon Hall on an ever-tight budget, while Dierdre deals with someone whispering dire things at the War Office that could damage her reputation (only to see it get swept away with perhaps a page devoted to the resolution). She also gets married after briefly worrying about whether or not to tell her fiance about an affair she had with another woman some years before (said woman is conveniently dead). DeLacy finds love, only to lose it to her stepfather who is sexually obsessed with her (said stepfather gets his comeuppance when he is conveniently murdered just before he can murder his wife, Daphne's mother). Dulcie, the youngest, goes to the theater and falls in love at first sight with the lead actor. He too falls in love with her. It's all very romantic if you can stomach the sugar.

You notice I use the word 'conveniently' a fair bit in the above paragraphs? Because that that pretty much describes everything that happens in this story. Cavendon Hall is suffering many of the troubles that plagued so many of the great houses and families of that time period, but they're *conveniently* saved due to the fact that Cecily Swann is filthy rich from her clothing lines and other ventures (she's something of a financial genius, apparently). It's almost like Bradford was afraid to have something too horrible happen to these people without a quick, conveniently-timed save laid out for them, and thus the entire book was completely lacking in any kind of suspense or fear for the characters.

kwylie04's rating:
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