by Candace Camp

August 2002
ISBN: 1-55166-922-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Mass Market Paperback

Before The Hidden Heart, I had never read Candace Camp before. But after reading this thrilling book, I assure you Iíll be looking forward to reading more from this refined author.

When the story begins, the reader is in the room where a woman is sobbing over someoneís hand. The person on the deathbed is General Streathern, and the woman, Lady Vesey, the wife of the Generalís greedy, grasping nephew is trying her level best to act like a concerned family member in hopes of getting into the old manís will. While this is unfolding, the Generalís granddaughter, Gabriela, stands watching her uncle with her governess, Jessica Maitland, by her side.

Both Jessica and Gabriela knew exactly what would happen if the General were to die that very moment, and they dreaded it while they fretted over the Generalís health. Then the reader is treated to a bit about Jessicaís past.

Suddenly, the General sits up and tells Lord and Lady Vesey to leave at once and instructs them to never come back. And then the General instructs Jessica what to do should he die. He has arranged for Gabriela to be turned over to Richard, the Duke of Cleybourne, who was a good friend of Gabrielaís father.

At first, Jessica just pushes the thoughts aside but when the General dies one night, Jessica finds she must do as the General instructed immediately. They journey to the country estate of the Duke and after a wonderful display of fireworks from Jessica over the Duke's lack of reaction to their arrival, they are admitted to see the Duke.

Then the book slows down, and so, too, did my opinion of it. But as the story unfolds, I found that Richard was a widower with a darker past than anyone realized. And then in the midst of being snowed in with several people, a murder mystery unfolds.

I really did enjoy this book, reading well into the night to finish it - especially the last part of the book. It read just like a historical version of Clue with Jessica and Richard trying to figure out who killed whom and why - while being in the house with a murderer.

Jessica and Richardís story is a slowly evolving love story, but one that I truly enjoyed. The books was by far and away one of the best books Iíve ever read, and Iím not much on historical novels!

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good suspenseful romance.

Reviewed in July 2002 by Lucy.

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