Summons to the Château d’Arc
In 1882, Ellen Edmonds, a twenty-year-old American, contacts the Marquis d’Arc to inform him of the passing of her mother. It seems that Ellen’s mother had spent some time at the Chateau D’Arc in Dreux, France, and had many fond memories which she had shared with her daughter over the years. The Marquis responds with a summons for Ellen. He desires to hire her as companion for his daughter. Arriving shortly thereafter at the Chateau D’Arc, Ellen finds herself working in a hostile environment. Everyone seems to have a secret, including the Chateau itself. Exploring the dark corners of her new home, however, proves dangerous, and more than once Ellen finds herself rescued by the estate manager, the handsome Philip Mailley.
While the writing in this novel is lush and romantic, Ellen seems to fall in love with Philip because he’s handsome and treats her only marginally better than the villain of the piece. Far more interesting is Ellen’s relationship with Lucy, the Marquis’s spoiled, wheelchair-bound, seventeen-year-old daughter. Throughout the story, Ellen and Lucy verbally spar, while ever so slowly gaining each other’s respect, and they finally become friends without either character losing her sharp edge. It’s this relationship that gives this story a heart and soul.