Rachel Grant's fiance, Thomas, was lost in the jungles of South America ten years ago, just before their wedding, and she has never found another man to replace him. After her parents die in a plane crash, Rachel begins to catch glimpses of a man who looks very much like Thomas, always right before suspicious accidents threaten her life. As the threats become more deadly and Rachel comes to know the mysterious stranger who resembles her dead lover, messages that seem to come from beyond the grave warn her away. Fans of Barbara Michaels will enjoy Hooper's latest Gothic mystery (which follows Finding Laura, Bantam, 1997), though the touches of the supernatural here are not as integral to the plot. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/98.]--Kim Uden Rutter, Lake Villa District Lib., IL
From the Publisher
"Warning: This novel is hair-raising."—Catherine Coulter
"A master storyteller."—Tami Hoag
"She keeps me guessing until the very end."—Linda Howard
"A multitalented author whose stories always pack a tremendous punch."—Iris Johansen
"Kay Hooper is a master storyteller."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Read an Excerpt
The house where Rachel had grown up was an elegant Georgian mansion built on extensive acreage on the James River. The house was more than two hundred and fifty years old, and had been in the Grant family for much of that time. Remodeled from time to time by various Grants, it now contained such luxuries and conveniences as carpet, closets, and bathrooms, as well as modern wiring, central heating, and air-conditioning. Yet it had maintained its graceful air despite those changes, and was considered one of the most beautiful houses in Richmond.
Rachel got out of her mother's sedan at the front drive and stood for a moment, studying the house. Not for the first time she wondered if she was being hasty in even considering selling the place. Yes, the house was far too large for one young woman who didn't care for entertaining and didn't have to in her work--the only real excuse for a single person to own such a place. And, yes, there were too many memories here, many of them painful. And her uncle Cameron wanted it, would enjoy it, and would keep it in the family at least a while longer.
But . . . it was her home. She had actually been born in this house, with a doctor in attendance, since her parents had been determined to uphold that tradition. Until she had gone away to college and then moved to New York, Rachel had always lived here, just as her father and grandfather before her. Her roots were here.
Did she really want to give it up? And if she did, were her reasons the right ones? Or was she just being cowardly in wanting to run away once more to New York without facing the pain of loss?
Not questions that were easily or simply answered, she knew.Shrugging them off for the moment, Rachel went into the house. She was greeted just inside the door by the housekeeper, Fiona, who was as dour as usual. A part of the Grant family for more than twenty years, Fiona moved more slowly these days in late middle age, and her superstitious nature could be a trial at times, but she loved this house and took excellent care of it.
Rachel went to her second-floor bedroom in the east wing and stood at the doorway, looking down the hall toward her parents' bedrooms. Though she had gone through her father's desk here at the house as a business necessity, she hadn't yet been able to sort through his and her mother's personal belongings. It was something she knew she had to do, not a chore she could assign to anyone else. It would take time and require decisions as to what to do with clothing and so on, and so far Rachel had simply not been up to the task.
And still was not. She shied away from opening those doors just as she had shied away from any other chore that threatened her control. She wasn't ready yet. Not yet.
She went into her bedroom, a room she had been allowed to furnish for herself when she was sixteen. Since Rachel had inherited her mother's elegant taste in antiques, even as a teenager she had not been fond of the fads and often peculiar color combinations in vogue with her friends; her room was decorated in quiet tones of blue and gold, virtually all the furniture Louis XV pieces, delicate and lovely.
Rachel was comfortable in the room, and after so many years took the stunning antiques for granted. She went into the adjoining bathroom and turned on the faucets to fill the big oval tub, deciding that a hot bath might ease her tension and soothe the restlessness she couldn't seem to get rid of. It only half worked, but half was an improvement, and by the time she climbed from the tub thirty minutes later, Rachel definitely felt better.
She wandered back out into her bedroom wearing a silk robe, and went to stand at a window that looked out over the front drive and lawns. Plans for the evening were simple; dinner, probably with her uncle Cameron, who was currently staying in the house, and then television or a book. It had become her routine since she had come home two weeks ago.
"Jet-setting heiress, that's me," she murmured to herself wryly.
The irony, of course, was that she could have jetted off to wherever she wanted--and simply had no interest in doing so. Money was not one of the things Rachel had ever had to strive for, and so it was not something that represented success or achievement. Not to her.
Achievement, to Rachel, was bound up in whether the designs she had created would successfully adorn the fashion runways when next year's spring collections made their debut. She had apprenticed herself to one of the best New York designers, and after years of hard work had the satisfaction of knowing that her designs would be shown under her own name.
But that was months and months away, and in the meantime she had to decide just how much of her past she wanted to abandon.
Rachel sighed and began to turn away from the window, when a flicker of movement down by the front gate caught her attention. There was considerable distance between the house and the gate, but what Rachel saw was clear enough.
And definitely real.
A man with silvery blond hair was standing at the gate, looking up toward the house. He was very still for a moment, and then, with a hunching movement of his broad shoulders that might have been a shrug or some gesture of indecision, he turned and walked away, hidden immediately by the high brick wall and numerous tall trees.
Rachel lifted a hand as though to stop him, but her flesh touched nothing except the cold glass of her window.