Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Blog Tour Review: A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift

From the Back Cover:

A family divided by fortune. A country divided by faith.

London 1609...

Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.

Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary - determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .

A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.

My Thoughts:

Deborah Swift is a master at bringing seventeenth-century England to life. And not the glitz and glamour of kings and queens and courtiers, but the diorama of everyday life, of merchants and tradesmen, of husbands and wives and mothers and fathers, of servants and street urchins and criminals. A Divided Inheritance brings us into that world once more and introduces us to Elspet Leviston, daughter of the successful owner of Leviston Lace. She and her father have lived humbly and quietly since the death of her mother, and Elspet is perfectly content to handle the affairs of the house while also helping handle the affairs of the business. She enjoys the sense of purpose and freedom she finds in being included in the business, and though her father is not given to displays of affection, she is secure in the knowledge that she is first in his heart--until the day his long-lost illegitimate son shows up on their doorstep. Suddenly, Zachary Deane becomes the center of her father's world, usurping Elspet's place in the business and in her father's estimation. Elspet finds herself relegated to a "woman's domain," her opinion no longer welcome in business matters, and even worse, her father becomes determined to marry her off to a man she's never met. Her resentment and suspicions about Zachary grow by the day, but her concerns fall on her father's deaf ears.

Zachary is delighted to suddenly find himself the center of such a prosperous world. The old man who thinks he's his father dotes on him, anxious to make up for lost time, and Zachary is perfectly happy to let him. But instead of focusing his attentions on the lace business, his new-found wealth serves to spur on his passion for fencing, fighting, and dueling. After one too many scrapes with the law, his father decides to send him on a grand tour of Europe to make connections for the business. Elspet fumes at this lavish reward for ill behavior, but she is powerless to do anything. But not long after Zachary's departure, a series of mishaps places the lace business in peril, and one final blow proves to be more than her father's heart can handle. Alone in the world, Elspet is incredulous to discover that her father left everything but a share in his business to Zachary. Elspet doesn't even own the house she lives in, and she is now reliant on Zachary for everything. She literally can't do anything without Zachary's approval. But Zachary is nowhere to be found, having departed from his itinerary to seek out the best sword makers and fencing masters in Spain. Elspet determines to take her future into her own hands and makes the perilous journey by sea and by land to Seville, where she finally catches up with her ne'er-do-well "brother." But her pleas for cooperation are lost on Zachary, who wants nothing to do with his shrewish and disapproving sister now that he has his father's money. Elspet finds herself in a desperate fight for her livelihood in a strange land on the verge of a religious war as the Spanish king seeks to remove all Muslims from the country. With the help of a few unexpected new allies, and with Zachary slowly coming to understand there is more to life than fighting and revenge, they will both discover hidden truths within themselves and the strength and courage to stand up for what is just and make amends for what is not.

Elspet and Zachary are stars in this novel with wonderfully drawn personalities and character arcs, but the time spent on many lesser characters they encounter detracts from them and their central story a bit. As in all of Ms. Swift's novels, the description is vibrant, the historical detail is fantastic, and the quality of the writing is superb. But I thought the pacing was off in this one. In the beginning, I found myself burning through the pages as I got to know Elspet, but I found my interest waning for most of the middle section of the novel. The narrative starts shifting back and forth in time and shifts to new characters right at the point where I was expecting the story to really kick into gear, but instead it sort of expanded and unraveled. Things picked up again once Elspet and Zachary met up in Spain, and there was a very exciting sequence of events leading up to the ending, but then the ending itself left me a bit dissatisfied. What I had hoped would happen didn't happen, and I was left without a real feeling of closure. And I like closure. So while this isn't going to be my favorite Deborah Swift novel, I can still recommend it as a worthwhile read for its unique story and impeccable historical flavor.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

A Divided Inheritance
is on a blog tour!


  1. Great review, Jenny! I thought this novel was fabulous and enjoyed the secondary story lines, but there were a couple of points where I felt the narrative dragged a bit (otherwise this would have been a five-star read for me). I've not read any of Deborah Swift's other novels, but I definitely will be now!

    I'm really curious to know how you originally thought the novel would end?

    1. **SPOILER ALERT** if you haven't read the book, don't read this comment!

      Melissa, I hoped she would sail off into the sunset with Alvarez!


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