About the only redeeming quality of this book is that it was a free Kindle download. Set in modern day London with flashbacks to Elizabethan London, the plot centers around Cassandra. A novelist in modern London, she becomes mesmerized with a news story about the discovery of 500 year old bones found in an old Tudor house in Blackfriars. Somehow, she becomes convinced that she knows the identity of the body and, indeed, knew the details of the house, inside and out, despite the fact that she never set foot in the house. She goes to the house the next day and meets a mysterious stranger who says, “I knew you’d come.”
That mysterious stranger ends up being her new publisher, who pans her latest work and urges her to write about her own life. Cassandra starts writing about the house in Blackfriars, based on dreams and visions she has about the people who lived there. Determined to find out how and why those things are happening to her, she starts digging into the past. She knows that the house is somehow connected to a locket she found at a yard sale. Inside the locket is a miniature portrait of a woman and an inscription, C & R. Along the way, she falls in love with her publisher, Adrian.
Cassandra discovers that the house was occupied by three siblings, Pippa, Constance and Thomas Thorne who are secretly Catholics. In flashbacks, their stories are told. As Catholics, they come under investigation by the Queen’s spymaster, Walsingham, who sends one of his agents, Richard Carlisle, to investigate. Richard ends up falling in love with Constance and marries her. Another of Walsingham’s agents, Edward Norris, thinks the Thornes are guilty of conspiring against the Queen, despite being cleared by Richard. Norris also has some very disturbing rape fantasies that involve Richard and completely distracted from the plot. In the end, Norris never gets to rape Richard, but he kidnaps Constance and rapes her. Richard saves her and kills Norris. For his crimes, he is beheaded. Back to the future, Cassandra finds a researcher in past life experiences and convinces her that she is the reincarnated Connie and naturally, Adrian is the reincarnated Richard.
I finished the book only because I wanted to see how the two storylines came together but I was sorely disappointed. Elizabethan England is one of my favorite time periods, but it’s clear the author did only the minimal amount of research. One glaring mistake, when Norris is killed and before Richard is arrested, the Crown issued a reward of 500 pounds to the person who can identify the killer. That may seem like a modest reward today, but then, one pound was equal to about $500 in today’s money, making the reward an enormous sum of $250,000. That kind of money would never have been given as a reward. Also, the book was rife with spelling and grammatical errors. The author continually used “then” instead of “than,” one of my biggest pet peeves. I wouldn’t recommend this book.