Every historian dreams of the day he/she will stumble upon an untapped mountain of primary source material that has been immaculately preserved and unseen by other eyes. This is the windfall that Dr. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (known as Barrett) receives from Edgar Preston Jamison. He is offering her sole access to the letters and journals that his family has been keeping at their Louisiana plantation house, Windswept. Of course Barrett cannot resist such treasure and is therefore devastated when Edgar passes away. Now she must deal with his grandson. Barrett hopes that his grandson, Edgar Davis Jamison, will be as easy to get along with and as pleasant.
Edgar Davis Jamison (known as Davis) is still reeling from the death of his grandfather when the historian arrives in his office. Davis is a venture capitalist who runs his life like he runs his investments. He carefully considers all the angles and whether or not he can profit from the investment. His grandfather has entrusted him with sole control of the family documents and Davis wants to see that everything is handled properly.
Once Davis makes up his mind and invites Barrett to stay with him at his home so she can examine the documents, they have to deal with all sorts of interference including his cousin, Lloyd, who is convinced that the papers contain a sinful family secret that if disclosed will be the ruin of the family and a colleague of Barrett’s, Dr. Glover, who will do almost anything to gain access to the papers. They also have to deal with their various siblings and Davis’s ex-wife.
I absolutely loved this book! I think that the way in which Ann Macela includes letters and excerpts from Mary Maude’s diary from the 1830’s enlivens the story and gives you a sense of what Barrett is reading as she goes through the papers. The journal made you care about Mary Maude and what she was going through and added to the suspense as I tried to figure out what family secret she might be hiding. Without the addition of these excerpts the story would have been missing something. The journals bring the reader into the story and help increase the feeling of how much history and the present have in common.
I couldn’t wait to find out what happened and it was a hard book for me to put down. Not only did the suspense of the secret keep me reading, but I was also enthralled with the characters and their relationship with each other. I loved the chemistry between Davis and Barrett. There was so much in the way of their relationship that I had to keep reading just to find out if they could actually make it work. Would Barrett give up what she wanted in terms of her career for Davis? When the secret was found, would Davis sabotage his budding relationship to protect his family’s name? I had to know. I highly recommend this book. It was wonderful!