17 July 2012

The Firstborn / The Second Sister


Heartskeep, Books One (Harlequin Intrigue No. 730) and Two (Harlequin Intrigue No. 736)

The Firstborn: Hayley Thomas and her twin sister, Leigh, grew up at Heartskeep, a mansion owned by their grandfather. The huge house is passed down through the family to the oldest child, which is Hayley. Seven years ago, their grandfather passed away, and not long after that their mother disappeared without a trace. The twins’ father, Marcus, an OB/GYN, has always been cold and distant, basically ignoring the girls from the time they were born. After their mother was declared legally dead, Marcus married his nurse, Eden, a shrew of a woman. Hayley and her sister moved to Boston, where they share an apartment.

Hayley is set to inherit Heartskeep on her 24th birthday. She’s now twenty-three, and has received a letter from the estate’s attorney, who wants to meet with her. So she arrives at Heartskeep one dark night. She didn't let Marcus and Eden know she was coming, and she is filled with determination to step in and claim her inheritance, despite the fact that she hasn't been back here in quite some time, and her father and his wife have lived in the house and treated it as their own.

On the night Hayley arrives, the house is dark and empty. The power is off, and there is no sign of Marcus and Eden, or the housekeeper and her daughter, who have always lived onsite. A gate has been installed around the property, which fortunately is not locked, and bars have been placed over most of the windows. Hearing a hammering noise from the garage, Hayley cautiously approaches, where she sees Bram Myers for the first time. It turns out Marcus hired Bram, a blacksmith, to design and install the gate and the bars.

Bram is a good ten plus years older than Hayley, and despite his attraction to her he is determined to avoid her. She’s too young, a kid, and he senses that with her, only the whole package will be acceptable. In other words, love, marriage and a family. All the things he does not want. Not to mention she’s an heiress who says Marcus had no right to hire him and his services are no longer needed, but he’s struggling to pay medical bills for his father and was counting on this job.

This is a Harlequin Intrigue, so there are secrets and mysterious happenings around the house. I was kept pretty riveted and read the book in two sittings. There’s a fairly large cast of characters, but they are all well written and it was easy to keep track of everyone. Hayley is a likable heroine, with some witty dialogue. And I really liked Bram. He’s strong and sensitive, a great hero. Although the model pictured on the cover just doesn’t look right to me for the part.

The Second Sister:  This book picks up right after the events of the first book, with Leigh arriving at Heartskeep. Trying not to give spoilers for the first book so this may be vague, but Leigh finds herself taking on responsibility for the house and some repair work being done. She also finds herself suddenly thrown together with the estate’s attorney, Gavin. At age seventeen Leigh had found herself in a dangerous situation, and Gavin had rescued her and then become her first lover. Leigh had always had a crush on him, but because of the circumstances she regretted their coming together, especially since he didn’t even realize at first that she was Leigh, and not her twin Hayley.

Former bad boy Gavin has turned his life around and tried to make something of himself, thanks to Leigh’s influence on him, though she doesn’t know that. Leigh discovers that her crush on him is alive and well, and Gavin is also drawn to her, but she is his client, so he is determined to keep their relationship on a professional level.

Again, there are secrets and mysterious happenings, and again I was riveted to the page, and read this entire book in two days. Though this time around I did get a little confused over some of the peripheral characters, having trouble keeping who was who straight. Leigh is another likable heroine, known as the quiet twin, always living a little in Hayley’s shadow. Gavin is another strong and sensitive hero, drawing Leigh out of her shell and helping her find her own ground to stand on.

There is one more book in this trilogy, The Third Twin, which I ordered immediately after finishing The Second Sister. After that I guess I’ll have to look for some of this author’s other books.

(I purchased The Firstborn at a library book sale and received The Second Sister through Book Mooch.)

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