Penhaligon’s Gift by Terri Nixon

Although this is a continuation of the complex relationships we have discovered in the earlier books of the series, it is a valid standalone story in its own right.

A couple of new characters – Keir Garvin, Anne’s wayward cousin from New Zealand, and Tristan’s obstinate little sister Sophie – and the unexpected return of Freya’s mother all add new colour to an already multi-faceted community. Alarming discoveries about centuries-old events reveal unforeseen ties between estranged families and implicate the current heirs in sordid dealings. Mine workers suffer from the landowners callous new investment plans, while others benefit from generous assistance. Several romances develop, provoking jealous tension and deceit with far-reaching consequences. The final denouement is as dramatic and surprising as it is providential.

This book is superbly written, with vivid descriptions and lively characters. What marrs it somewhat for me are the at times explicit or implied promiscuous sexual relationships, which I would have hoped were not typical in such a community.

I look forward to the next instalment…

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