A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
'~ London 1609 ~ Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace. Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary - determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers. Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .'
The novel is set in London in 1609 for the first part of the book; it opens with introducing us to Magdalena and her sons; she is dying and is concerned for her sons future in particular her son Zachary. The older two brothers are spiteful to Zachary and Magdalena is worried that when she dies he will not be able to care for himself like the others or worse end up in trouble. When Magdalena dies she instructs Zachary to seek out his real father to take care of him.
We then switch to the Leviston family who own a Lace business run by Nathaniel Leviston and assisted by his daughter Elspet. Nathaniel's wife is dead and Elspet is his only child who runs the home and helps with the business much like a son might have done had he had one.
The business occupies much of Elspet's time but she loves being involved and being close to her father. Quite out of the blue Zachary arrives who Nathaniel says is his sisters child, she has died and he is going to take him in. Elspet is suspicious of Zachary from the start and is concerned that her father has never mentioned him before, however she has no control over the situation and has to accept his presence. It's not long before Nathaniel is involving him more and more in the business but Elspet knows he has no real interest in it, he is always getting into fights and causing concern. Because of this she suggests he is educated more into the business and Nathaniel hits on the idea of sending him on a grand tour overseas away from the distractions of London.
Deborah Swift has great descriptive abilities, she is wonderful at creating the scene and the feel for Jacobean London and that of her characters. She expertly weaves the plot together introducing characters as she goes along that fall seamlessly into the story. Not to give too much away Elspet is forced to follow Zachary when her father dies and she realises he is her brother who has been given half her inheritance and she learns he wants to sell the business.
She takes her maid Martha and Wilmot her fathers business manager with her to Spain to track him down and make him change his mind about selling the business. She has her own private battle of wills with Zachary but that period of time in Spain was a dangerous place to be and quickly she realises that there are more important things happening around her than her own troubles which force her and Zachary closer together.
I will not spoil the story by revealing the end suffice it to say that it is rather more unexpected than the reader would have predicted.
A good read with good historical references, believable characters and the need to carry on to the end to find out what happens to them all.
I would not have picked a historical novel to read but this has made me want to read more of Deborah Swifts work, so enjoyable. I would rate this book as a 5 star definitely one of the best in this genre that I have read.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this review copy.