Random House / July 9, 2013 / $27.00 print, $12.99 digital
Just as Alix Madsen is finishing up architectural school, Adelaide Kingsley dies and wills her, for one year, the use of a charming nineteenth-century Nantucket house. The elderly woman’s relationship to the Madsen family is a mystery to the spirited Alix—fresh from a romantic breakup—but for reasons of her own Alix accepts the quirky bequest, in part because it gives her time to plan her best friend’s storybook wedding.
But unseen forces move behind the scenes, creaking Kingsley House’s ancient floorboards. It seems that Adelaide Kingsley had a rather specific task for Alix: to solve the strange disappearance of one of the Kingsley women, Valentina, more than two hundred years ago. If that wasn’t troubling enough, Alix must deal with the arrogant (and extremely good-looking) architect Jared Montgomery, who is living in the property’s guesthouse.
Unbeknown to Alix, Jared has been charged with looking after her while she lives on the island—an easy task for him, considering the undeniable chemistry between the two. But Jared harbors secrets of his own, which, if revealed, may drive a wedge between the pair.
With a glorious Nantucket wedding on the horizon, sparks fly, and the ghosts of the past begin to reveal themselves—some of them literally. Finding their lives inextricably entwined with the turbulent fortunes of their ancestors, Alix and Jared discover that only by righting the wrongs of the past can they hope to be together.
Veteran author Jude Deveraux returns with True Love, first in the Nantucket Brides Trilogy. Fans of Deveraux should note the novel contains a new generation of characters from the Montgomery-Taggert family, a staple of nearly two dozen of her books, beginning with her 1980 medieval romance The Black Lyon and continuing today.
True Love is a Gothic that blends stories of both past and present; it has elements of both her historicals and her time-travel novels, despite its setting in contemporary Nantucket. Gothics almost always revolve around an old house in a close-knit community, and an unsuspecting heroine who comes to it as an outsider. The hero is usually wealthy and/or powerful as well as mysterious in some way. All of those items can be checked off here!
What makes this story especially interesting is that both heroine and hero are architects, with a strong appreciation for historic buildings. Heroine Alix in particular, though in some respects a typical Gothic naive heroine—she's young, just graduated from an architecture program, and she's been recently dumped by an exploitative boyfriend—has a notable talent for her chosen field, and in fact might be considered a genius. This is both a bonus and a liability for her; she has creative power, but self-doubt has the potential to damage it.
The hero, Jared, is already well-established as an architect. Among other reasons, Alix is nervous around Jared because she badly wants him—for a mentor. At the same time she is wary of him, because of her previous relationship experience. She must overcome this fear to learn from Jared. Aside from their romance, her own career is part of what's at stake.
“I was always very nice to [Eric].”
“Yeah,” Izzy said. “You were. That’s because you didn’t want to hurt his teeny tiny ego.”
“Come on,” Alix said, chewing. “He and I had some great times. He—”
“He used you!” Izzy’d had to stand back and watch Eric cuddle up to Alix while she practically did his work for him. All the other males in their classes were intimidated by her. Her father was a successful architect, her mother a celebrated writer, and, worse, Alix’s designs won every competition, every prize, and were praised by the entire school. “And what did you expect from him when you were always in the top five in your class? I thought Professor Weaver was going to kiss your feet when he saw your last project.”
“He just appreciates designs that can actually be built.”
“Well, duh. That thing Eric designed before you started helping him couldn’t have been put together by the crew that built the Sydney Opera House.”
Alix gave a small smile. “It was rather like a spaceship, wasn’t it?”
“I expected it to go into orbit at any second.” Alix seemed to be recovering but then her eyes turned sad again. “But did you see his date at the farewell party? She was barely twenty, if that.”
“Go ahead and say it,” Izzy said. “She was dumb. Really stupid. But that’s what Eric needs for his fragile ego. To make him go up, others have to come down.”
...Alix had inherited from her father a deep love of building. [He] spent his summers building houses. In the winter her father had worked in a shop and made cabinets. He’d earned his degree in architecture before Alix was born...She could read blueprints by the time she was in first grade.
I enjoyed reading about a heroine with an interesting career. Alix's appreciation of the historic buildings of Nantucket adds interest to the story on more than one level. As a side effect, now I want to visit the island and see it for myself!
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of True Love by Jude Deveraux, out July 9:
Victoria Janssen is the author of three erotic novels and numerous short stories. Her latest novel is The Duke and The Pirate Queen from Harlequin Spice. Follow her on Twitter @victoriajanssen or find out more atvictoriajanssen.com.