She didn’t have an enemy in the world …
until she inherited a fortune
London 1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage.
Out of the blue, she receives a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance, and in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera.
But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and writers, under the heat of the sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.
Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly…
Smitten by both the cover and the blurb I couldn’t wait to dive into this one. Once started it didn’t take long to find myself drawn into a beautifully atmospheric tale with a mystery at its heart.
Eve Forrester is a biddable wife, trapped in a sterile marriage that she only entered into to escape an equally soulless existence with her widowed mother. Sadly having lost her fiance in the war, she knows what love can be like and it isn’t what she now has with Clifford. Little wonder then, that when she receives news of an unexpected inheritance she is keen to discover more. The fact that to do so means travelling to the French Riviera only adds to the excitement.
Arriving in Cannes, it’s easy to see how Eve is totally enchanted by the lifestyle she finds there. A direct contrast to the gloomy, make do and mend mentality of post war Britain. This is a land of parties, cocktails and glamour (though best not to delve too deeply as to where the money is coming from). Her inheritance is a share in the Lester family villa, Villa La Perle, though she has no idea as to who her benefactor Guy Lester is, or why he would leave it to her. Disconcertingly, his widow and sons are of the same opinion about Eve and the assumptions made are not pleasant ones. Drawn between cutting her losses and returning to a stifling life with Clifford; or enjoying just a few days of freedom and yearning to discover the mystery surrounding her inheritance, Eve decides to stay.
I loved the unfolding story, as it wasn’t just Eve’s mystery that was engaging, but also the blossoming friendships she was making with an assortment of characters. From the down to earth Colletts, to Hollywood actress Gloria, and Stanley, the hard-drinking American writer in residence at Villa La Perle. This was her introduction into a world reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway – who wouldn’t be captivated. The fact that Eve is a sympathetic character means you’re very quickly on her side. Though the same can cannot be said for her indifferent mother, her controlling husband or the disdainful and privileged Lester family. But while Eve is busy finding her feet, as well as answers, and starting to grow in confidence, someone appears to be making damned sure she stops. The questions are, who and why?
I loved the contrast between the grey post-war austerity and the colourful lavish parties of the Cote d’Azur. The descriptions were perfect in summing up the scenes and setting the historical context. They really drew you into the atmospheric maelstrom that Eve found herself at the centre of. As secrets begin to emerge, it’s clear that the stories that have been buried, are not ones that anyone could have anticipated.
This is a great, escapist read that combines glitz and glamour, compelling characters, atmospheric settings and a dark, dramatic secret at its heart that really keeps you hooked.
Thanks to Transworld for providing an ARC.