Book review: The Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa Montefiore

Secrets, lies and forbidden love...  Santa Montefiore is back to steal our hearts this summer with the final instalment of her sumptuous Deverill Chronicles trilogy.
The Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa MontefioreThe Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa Montefiore
The Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa Montefiore

Set amidst the rugged countryside of West Cork in Ireland in the first four decades of the 20th century, this epic tale of a group of women all bound together by one grand and beautiful house has melded drama and romance with Montefiore’s special brand of spiritual magic.

In the last part of the trilogy, which follows on from Songs of Love and War and The Daughters of Castle Deverill, we meet up again with the dynamic family whose lives have been linked through decades of love, war and betrayal.

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It’s early 1939 in Ireland and much has changed for the Deverills. A new generation is waiting in the wings but eyes are once again turning towards Europe where the dark clouds of war are building.

In Dublin, 17-year-old Martha Wallace has left her home and adopted parents in America on a desperate mission to track down her birth mother in Ireland. Martha was abandoned at birth at a convent but her feelings of rejection have been temporarily banished by a chance meeting with the impossibly charming JP Deverill, illegitimate son of Lord Bertie Deverill, once owner of the famous Castle Deverill in Ballinakelly.

Bridie Doyle, meanwhile, has come a long way from her humble roots as the daughter of Castle Deverill’s Irish cook. Now the wealthy Countess di Marcantonio, mother of seven-year-old Leopoldo and mistress of Castle Deverill, she is determined to make the magnificent surroundings her home.

However, her flamboyant husband Cesare has other ideas and, as his eyes stray away from his wife, those close to the couple start to question his true identity.

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Kitty Deverill, JP’s half-sister, believed that life with her husband Robert and their two children was her destiny until the unexpected return of rebel Jack O’Leary, the love of her life who is as irresistible to her now as he was when they met years earlier. But this time Jack’s heart belongs elsewhere.

All three women are still bound together by the castle, a house that is haunted by a 300-year-old curse and the ghosts locked within its now crumbling walls. Can the spell finally be broken?

With lives intertwined, hearts broken, secrets unravelled, and battles won and lost, the final, enthralling chapter of the Deverill family is packed with high drama, heartbreaking emotion and Montefiore’s trademark insight and sensitivity.

Wonderful storytelling, real history, intriguing twists and turns, some restless spirits and a cast of compelling characters have made this trilogy a feast of reading for all romance fans.

(Simon & Shuster, hardback, £14.99)