St. Martin's, Jan 2004, 24.95, 496 pp.
Paula McGill Harte Amory Fairley O'Neill runs the Knightsbridge Store of her family's chain. She is pleased that her two daughters Linnet (from her first marriage) and Tessa (from her second marriage) work there because like she did she hopes they will take over management of the company as that is surely a family affair. Paula understands the pressure on the next generation even if they are three removed from the matriarchal legend, Emma Harte.
Evan Hughes arrives from American seeking employment. She looks like a Harte descendent and so is hired. When Emma's great-grandson Gideon Harte, who works in the family newspaper business, meets Evan, he is very attracted to the Connecticut Yankee. However, the family becomes concerned about their potential relationship because Evan's grandmother was rumored to have a very close relationship with the family.
Over the last twenty-five years, four books including EMMA'S SECRET have chronicled the Harte foundation. However, as the novels have been released, each subsequent one seems to have less heart and more descriptions of frivolous details. Die hard fans of the author, series, or curious seekers (that is what kept this reviewer going) will want to read the latest, but for most readers this is a flat line and would be better off reading Barbara Taylor Bradford original novel A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner