Fifteen years ago, the lives of the residents of Hadley Green changed forever when an 8-year-old girl gives testimony about the Countess of Ashwood's missing jewels.
Lily Boudine's testimony sent a man to the gallows. Then her aunt drowns in the lake near the estate and her uncle goes missing. As the only living heir, Lily returns, as the new countess, to a crumbling estate and at the receiving end of a man's merciless revenge.
Tobin Scott could not erase the image of his father's dead body -- and he could never forget the girl he knows is responsible for what happened to his family. He has devoted his entire life planning for this moment when he would exact his vengeance on all the people who have wronged his family.
I have been waiting for this book to be published since I read The Year of Living Scandalously last year -- there was a long break in between the first book and this one because Julia London focused on her contemporary series. I am so, so very happy that this book (and book 3) are published close to each other.
Lily and Tobin are the central figures in this tragedy -- standing on opposite sides of the issue, the two finally meet face-to-face as they battle for their heritage. Tobin has been relentless in his intent to destroy Ashwood: he has stolen land, tenants ... and fish -- crippling Lily's estate and leaving her with no means to support herself or her people. And Lily has no resources -- after the debacle of her cousin's arrival in Hadley Green (read the first book), she has no friends and very little money to fight Tobin on equal grounds.
But she refuses to back down -- she knows she spoke the truth many years ago -- it was damning and destructive -- but she knows what she saw. After 15 years, returning to Hadley Green has unlocked pieces of Lily's memory and Lily is able to see the incident more clearly.
But for every answer discovered, more questions are uncovered: What was Joseph Scott doing riding away from Hadley Green that night? What is the meaning of the inscription on the piano stool? Where are the missing jewels?
Tobin and Lily are formidable characters and are very well-matched. Julia London reminds us of their friendship and the idyllic childhood they had before the incident and juxtaposes is to the present -- creating palpable tension between the two adversaries. Their relationship takes an interesting turn when Tobin scandalizes Lily with his most indecent proposal -- and Lily scandalizes Tobin when she accepts it.
Motives are questioned as kisses are exchanged -- Tobin is no longer sure what it is he wants from Lily. And Lily isn't certain what she feels for Tobin is purely enmity.
The word that comes to mind is cataclysmic: that which is destructive but becomes the impetus for drastic change. Lily and Tobin have led tumultuous lives -- not of their own making -- but it is admirable how they have risen up and pressed on (Tobin's motto) -- and love is the cataclysm that allows them to see Hadley Green and the history of their lives there from a different perspective. And love is the balm that heals their wounded souls.
Amazing how Julia London develops the story of our hero and heroine ... and the mystery of the missing jewels! I am itching to get my copy of the third book! >_<
This was an amazing story -- and was worth the wait!
The Revenge of Lord Eberlin is Book 2 in Julia London's Secrets of Hadley Green series. The third book, The Seduction of Lady X was released last March.