THE OTHER DAUGHTER – Lauren Willig
St. Martin's Press
England – 1920s
Rachel Woodley works as a governess for a wealthy family in France. Raised by her hard-working widowed mother in a poor but adequate household in England, she is content at what she does. But her world is thrown into turmoil when she receives word that her mother is seriously ill back home, and by the time Rachel arrives, the funeral is already over. As she comes to grips with her mother's death, and the fact that her employer sacked her for leaving, Rachel is stunned to find a recent magazine clipping showing her very much alive father. Not only is he alive, but he is an earl, and the picture shows him with his daughter. Grief stricken and in shock, Rachel goes to her cousin in Oxford for clarification. He reveals that, yes, her father is indeed alive, and that he had to marry his present wife in order to save his family's legacy.
After Rachel gathers her wits, she leaves her cousin's flat and is followed by one of his friends, Simon Montfort, who, he claims, has been told to buy her a cup of tea. Simon writes a gossip column for a London newspaper, and he is intrigued by Rachel's story, for reasons that will be revealed later. Rachel tells him she wants to deal with her father, but can't imagine trying to get into his elite circle. But Simon has some ins with his friends because of his job, and he sets Rachel up in a situation where she changes her name and, most of all, her way of life. She is determined to confront her father one way or another.
Being a member of the Bright Young Things of London is certainly not the life Rachel is used to. But she does get to meet her half-sister and her profligate half-brother. How can she hate her newly found sister? She almost likes her. And she especially likes her sister's fiancé. The wild crowd Rachel gets involved with, along with Simon, have many hidden issues behind their carefree behavior. Is her revenge going to be worth it in the end?
Newly out in trade paperback, I warn readers, do not start this book late at night or you'll regret it the next day. I read it in one sitting because, from page one, the story drags you in until you can't wait to see what happens next. Rachel is intelligent and loved her mother dearly. The pain of losing her father when she was four has remained with her, and she must find out why he left them, and why she was told he was dead. Glib, smooth talking Simon has his own agenda in assisting Rachel.
I highly recommend THE OTHER DAUGHTER and, due to the fact that it is un-put-downable, I give it a Perfect 10 when it was first released in 2015.