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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
After the success of the Black Diamond series (including The Black Diamond and The Legacy of the Diamond), bestselling author Andrea Kane returns to Victorian England with her new novel, The Music Box. Kane plays Dickens a bit, for she throws together orphans and bastards and family secrets and the possibility of the inheritance of manors, all in one heady brew.
The story begins with little Gabrielle Denning crying out for her mother and father. A fire rages all around her, and she doesn't know where to run or to what to cling as the flames grow higher. She manages to grab a small music box, a prize possession of hers. It was bought the day she was born, and it becomes a potent symbol of her past as the story jumps a decade forward to the 1870s.
Bryce Lyndley is a bastard—literally. When Lady Nevon summons this up-and-coming young barrister to her elegant estate, his past associations with the good dame bubble up. Lady Nevon has been funding his education since he was orphaned at an early age by the parents who raised him. But Bryce knows the truth: He is the bastard son of Lady Nevon's late husband.
Bryce's brother-by-birth, Thane, was brought up into his rightful place of manors, money, good breeding, and class. But Bryce was raised as a servant's child. He grew up in the world of gentlemen nonetheless and has become one of the premier attorneys of England. Lady Nevon's husband has recently died, so he assumes there are legal matters of estate to clear up.
When he arrives at the manor, a white rabbit and a very unlikely Alice inWonderland cross his path. He meets Gabrielle, now called Gaby. Gaby has become a young woman but retains much of her childlike charm, having been both protected and somewhat isolated within the grounds of the manor.
Gabrielle lived something of a reverse life of Bryce's. Although, like him, her parents died when she was a girl, Lady Nevon took her under her wing and raised her as if she were a legitimate part of the family.
When Bryce sits down to tea with Lady Nevon, she drops the bombshell on him. She is ill, possibly dying. She wants him to take over the estate upon her death. He is her sole beneficiary. He protests, because his brother Thane still lives and is the legitimate heir to the manor. But Lady Nevon convinces him that Thane is busy enough with his father's estate, let alone Lady Nevon's manor and its many servants. As taken aback as he is by this unexpected turn of events, Lady Nevon introduces him to what I can only describe as a motley crew of servants she has in her employ. They are a tribe of outcasts from Victorian society, all of whom are rich in spirit and personality, and not so near perfection that they could keep employment in a more demanding household. Lady Nevon has, in fact, created a Wonderland for Gaby (as Alice) to explore. It is no coincidence that Kane makes reference to Alice in Wonderland more than once. Although Nevon Manor is a wonderful retreat from the world, it also has dark corners and more than its share of nonsense.
The intrusion of Bryce Lyndley, a man of logic with little heart, becomes Gaby's greatest challenge in understanding love. For Bryce, the secrets of Lady Nevon's plans include a reunion with his long-lost brother and a mystery even deeper than he can guess. And of course, passion will flower in the most unexpected corners of Nevon Manor. At the heart of all this is the young woman, Gaby, whose music box holds a mystery that only she and Bryce together can uncover.
Don't miss this novel. The Music Box unfolds a little slowly in examining the details of Gaby's and Bryce's lives, but the story begins to spark as Nevon Manor and its shadows come to light.—Jessi Rose Lucas