For Clara Chapman, a young woman reduced to poor circumstances after being left at the altar on her wedding day, the surprising invitation is quite puzzling for it said:
"The Twelve Days of Christmas
As never's been reveled
Your presence, Miss Chapman, is respectfully herald.
Bleakly Manor's the place
And after twelve nights
Five hundred pounds
Will be yours by rights."
There would be no question she would go though she hated to leave the aunt she lovingly cared for. Go she did and what she found would change her life forever.
Benjamin Lane, betrayed and marked with a prison tattoo languished in his cell, angry at the unknown person who stole his life, took his fortune and turned his only love against him. He too received an invitation to the manor but his invitation gave him no choice but to attend. Attend the twelve days at Bleakly and he may get his freedom. Escape from Bleakly and he would love his life.
All who gathered at Bleakly were led there for a purpose. All sought the reward offered if they could but stay the twelve nights. Each day grew bleaker, however and death was not a stranger as mysterious events turned up and the guests numbers dwindled.
As fate would have it, Clara and Benjamin had met before. She was his love, the one he lost through betrayal. He was the man who left her alone at the church humiliated. A humiliation that was heightened by the ruin of her family's business and fortune through embezzlement by the same man she trusted and loved.
Who will remain and win the prize? If you seek the answer, read the book! A delicious plot complete with the Dickens flavor of Victorian England. Charles Dickens, my favorite author of all time, was a champion of the poor and mistreated. Agatha Christie would have loved the intrigue of the stately manor and absent host. I enjoyed the opportunity to read this book for review from NetGalley and Barbour Publishing. I recommend this book as one you will read this season and in seasons to come!