From the bestselling author of House of Shadows and The Phantom Tree comes a spellbinding tale of jealousy, greed, plotting and revenge—part history, part mystery—for fans of Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley and Barbara Erskine
Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.
Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…
250 Years Later…
When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can't tell what is real and what is imaginary.
As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.
Cornick (The Phantom Tree) ably interweaves genres, eras, and narratives in this romantic suspense novel with paranormal elements. In 1763, Lady Isabella and Lord Eustace Gerard are locked in a vicious marriage. She takes lovers to help her tolerate his brutality as he grows entangled with a violent smuggling ring operating near their estate in Wiltshire. When Gerard gives Isabella an opulent gold silk gown, the dress seems to speed their trajectory toward disaster. In 2004, 13-year-old Fenella Brightwell is driven by sudden compulsion to steal the gown during a school visit to the estate. Disturbed by the turbulent emotions and images it engenders, she hides it away in the house she shares with her grandmother, Sarah. Fourteen years later, Sarah dies and the gown is returned to Fenella, who's now trying to rebuild her life after divorcing her abusive husband. Assailed by alarming visions, she teams with her best friend's brother, art expert Hamish Ross, to learn more about the gown's dark past. The tentative romance between Fenella and Hamish effectively balances the sinister mood of the 18th-century story. Romance fans will be most satisfied.