When Aurore Gerritsen watched her lover kill her father, it was just one act of violence in a long chain of dramatic events.
Years later, behind the iron lace gates of wealthy New Orleans, beneath the veneer of her society name, linger secrets that Aurore Gerritsen has hidden for a lifetime, and truths that threaten to change forever the lives of her unsuspecting family. Now, as Aurore faces her own mortality, she needs to reveal those secrets that have haunted her for so many years.
Aurore seeks out Phillip Benedict and asks him to tell her story. He's intrigued, but wonders why the matriarch of a prominent white family would choose to confess her sins to an outspoken black journalist.
Finally Phillip agrees, but though he thinks he's ready for anything she might say, the truth is that nothing can prepare him for the impact of Aurore's shocking revelations.
Named for the trademark elaborate cast-iron grillwork of many New Orleans homes, Iron Lace is more aptly suited to describe the protagonists' lives in Richards's (Bayou Midnight) first title for Mira. Globe-girdling African American journalist Phillip Benedict is leery when he's asked by Aurore Gerritsen, an elderly white socialite to ghost her autobiography. She doesn't intend to publish it so Phillip asks the natural question: Why? "When we've finished, you'll have your answer," is Aurore's answer. As the story slowly unfolds (take a deep breath here), Phillip learns that his great-grandmother, Marcelite Cantrelle, had once been Aurore's father's mistress, and that Phillip's mother, Nicolette, is Aurore's daughter from a love affair with Raphael Cantrelle, Marcelite's half-caste son. (Whew!) Unwilling to raise a child of mixed blood in rigid New Orleans society, Aurore had given Raphael custody of Nicolette. Now, after nearly 50 years, Aurore is trying to right a wrong. This portrait of racism from 1919 to the mid-1960s is intricate, seductive and a darned good read.