Family ties, smalltown values and unexpected love in picturesque settings have made Deveraux a longtime bestselling author, so it's no surprise she again delivers on her tried-and-true formula. Jocelyn "Joce" Minton, daughter of a Williamsburg, Va., debutante and a handyman, is alienated from her family after her widowed father marries a woman who is decidedly not debutante material and has a pair of selfish twins. Joce ends up in the care of an elderly neighbor, Miss Edi, who watches over the girl through college. When Miss Edi dies, she leaves Joce an ancestral manor house and a trove of secrets going back to 1941 that compel Joce to visit Edilean, Va., where she meets the local color, including a sexy lawyer and his sexier gardener cousin-who has a secret or two, himself. Alternating WWII battlefront tragedy with contemporary romance, Deveraux packs in something for every generation, from wicked supermodels to patriotic sacrifice, from planting an herb garden to DNA tests. For all the novel's coincidences and predictability, readers will find it hard to resist the charm of Edilean, the manor house, the town, the woman of many secrets and, of course, the series to follow. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)by Jude Deveraux
Jocelyn Minton is a woman torn between two worlds. Her mother grew up attending private schools and afternoon teas, but she married the local handyman. After her mother died when Joce was only five years old, her father remarried into his own class, and Joce became an outsider until she met Edilean Harcourt. Although she was sixty years Joce's senior, Miss… See more details below
Jocelyn Minton is a woman torn between two worlds. Her mother grew up attending private schools and afternoon teas, but she married the local handyman. After her mother died when Joce was only five years old, her father remarried into his own class, and Joce became an outsider until she met Edilean Harcourt. Although she was sixty years Joce's senior, Miss Edi was a kindred soul who understood her like no one else ever had.
When Miss Edi passes away, she leaves Joce all her worldly possessions, including an eighteenth-century house and a letter with clues to a mystery that began in 1941. In the letter, Miss Edi also mentions that she has found the perfect man for Joce a handsome young lawyer. Joce is shocked to learn that the mystery, the house, and the future love of her life are all in Edilean, a small town in Virginia that Miss Edi never told her about. Hurt that the woman who meant so much to her kept so many secrets, Jocelyn moves to this tight-knit village in an attempt to understand the legacy that has been left to her. As she begins to dig into Miss Edi's mystery, she soon discovers some shocking surprises about her family's history and her own future and she meets a man with his own mysterious past.
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Jocelyn glanced at herself in the hotel mirror for the last time. This is it, she thought. This is the moment. Her instinct was to put her nightgown back on and climb back into bed. Wonder what was on HBO during the day? Did this hotel have HBO? Maybe she should look for a hotel that did.
She took a deep breath, looked back at the mirror, and straightened her shoulders. What would Miss Edi say if she saw her slumping like this? At the thought of Miss Edi, tears again came to her eyes, but she blinked them away. It had been four months since the funeral, but she still missed her friend so much she sometimes didn't know how to function. Every day she wanted to call Miss Edi and tell her something that had happened, but each day she discovered afresh that she was gone.
"I can do this," Joce said as she looked in the mirror. "I really and truly can do this." She was dressed conservatively, in a skirt and an ironed, white cotton blouse, just the way Miss Edi had taught her. Her shoulder- length, dark blonde hair was pulled back with a headband, and she had on very little makeup. All she knew about the town of Edilean, Virginia, was that Miss Edi had grown up there, so Jocelyn didn't want to arrive in jeans and a tube top and shock the locals.
She picked up her car keys, grabbed the handle of her big black suitcase, and rolled it to the door. Tonight she'd be sleeping in her own house. It was a house she'd never seen, never even heard about until a lawyer told Joce she'd inherited it, but it was still hers.
Just days ago, she'd sat in the lawyer's office in Boca Raton, Florida, dressed all in black and wearing the pearls Miss Edi had given her. It was months after Miss Edi's funeral, but her will stated that it was to be read on the first day of May after she died. If she'd died on June the first, that would have meant waiting eleven months. But she'd died in her sleep just into the new year, so Jocelyn had had time to grieve before facing the ordeal of hearing what was in the will.
Beside her sat her father, his wife beside him, and next to her were the Steps, Belinda and Ashley. But now they were better known as Bell and Ash. Due to their mother's indefatigable efforts, they'd become models -- and the media had loved the idea of there being two of them. In the last ten years they'd been on the covers of all the top magazines. They'd traveled all over the world and modeled the clothes of every designer. When they walked through a mall, teenage girls followed them, their mouths open in awe. And males of every age looked at them with lust.
But for all their fame, to Jocelyn's mind, the Steps hadn't changed since they were all kids together. As children, the twins loved to make up things they said Joce had done to them, then tell their mother. Louisa used to glare at her stepdaughter and say, "Wait 'til your father gets home." But when Gary Minton returned, he'd just shake his head and do whatever he could to stay out of the turmoil. His objective in life was to have a good time, not to referee his three children. He'd retreat to his garage workshop, his wife and his tall stepdaughters trailing behind him. Jocelyn would leave and go to Miss Edi.
"So what did the old witch leave you?" Bell asked as she stretched her long neck to see Jocelyn at the far end of the row of chairs.
For Joce, it had never been difficult to tell the twins apart. Bell was the smarter of the two, the leader, while Ash was quieter and did whatever her sister wanted her to. Since that usually meant saying something nasty to gain a laugh, Ash was often the one to stay away from.
"Her love," Jocelyn said, refusing to look at her stepsister. Bell was on her third husband...
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