Paint and Nectar (Heirloom Secrets)

Written by Ashley Clark
Review by Fiona Alison

This multi-generational romance takes place primarily in 1929 and in present-day Charleston, South Carolina. Lucy Legare unexpectedly inherits an old house, although she has no idea who the benefactor is. She is determined to uncover the history of the house and its previous owners, but her efforts are hampered by the attractive Declan Pinckney, a construction company owner’s son, whose father threatens that the house must be acquired at any cost because of valuable silver buried on the grounds.

Lucy soon discovers the owner during the 1930s and ´40s was her great-grandmother, renowned Charleston watercolorist Eliza Ravenel, and that Declan’s great-grandfather was William Pinckney, with whom Eliza was very much in love. This places Lucy and Declan in odd juxtaposition, although neither can ignore the attraction. The story background is always haunted by the missing silver, now feuded over for more than a century by the Pinckneys and the Legares,

The story alternates between Eliza’s and William’s story and Lucy’s and Declan’s. I wasn’t quite sure who owned the house when, and I couldn’t always follow the trail of the silver. The love affair between William and Eliza is heartfelt, both sad and joyous, and both time periods are well described. A few incidents feel contrived and don’t fit together smoothly, and there is a sense, at the conclusion, of incidents having happened solely so that something else could, particularly in the present-day narrative. The prologue might have been better woven into the narrative, rather than having its own voice, as it feels superfluous. Overall, a good read, but for me the tale would benefit from fewer elements. This will no doubt intrigue readers interested in the Charleston Renaissance, as it speaks to the rampant present-day destruction of the old, vs the preservationist attitudes of earlier times.