newport book coverReviewed by Vera Pereskokova

Attorney Adrian De la Noye arrives in Newport with his associate Jim Reid in tow. His mission: draft a new will for a very wealthy client, the elderly Bennett Chapman. In his golden years, Bennett has finally decided to enter the state of matrimony again and wants his will to reflect his upcoming marriage to the beautiful, and much younger, Catherine Walsh.

Adrian and Jim’s arrival at Liriodendron, Chapman family Newport estate, coincides with the arrival of Bennett’s grown-up children, Lady Chloe Dinwoodie and Nicholas Chapman. The pair is there not to celebrate the wedding but to prove that their father is not in his right mind and cannot legally change the will.

At first, Adrian is confident that Bennett is of sound mind – if not body – and that his children are only there to serve their own financial interests. But it quickly becomes apparent that Bennett is driven to marry Catherine at the behest of his first wife, Elizabeth–his dead wife. And he hears Elizabeth’s commandments through none other than Catherine’s niece, Amy.

In an effort to determine whether or not Bennett is all there, Adrian gets Nicholas to agree to participate in a seance. Either Amy’s words will prove that she’s truly communicating with the late Mrs. Chapman or expose her – and her aunt – as charlatans after Bennett’s fortune. One seance turns into another and another and despite Nicholas’ continued animosity and disbelief, most in the party cannot deny the power of Amy’s revelations. Secrets are revealed, long lost lovers reunited and familial hurts resurfaced. By the end of it all, no one will be the same. But one thing is for certain – if it’s up to Elizabeth Chapman, there will be a wedding.

I love Beatriz Williams’ writing so when I saw Newport being compared to her books, I immediately jumped at the chance to read it. I began Newport with expectations of immersing myself in the “dazzling, glamorous world of Newport during the Roaring Twenties” (as promised by the book’s description). Unfortunately, Newport tried to be too many things at once and at least in my mind, failed on most counts. It was part historical fiction, part romance, and part occult fiction/ghost story; each component felt rushed and was not sufficiently developed to keep my interest. What was most disappointing was the fact that the promised “dazzling, glamorous world of Newport” was almost non-existent in this book’s pages. This story could have literally taken place anywhere at any time and there were no discerning factors that would peg it to the Roaring Twenties.

The romantic triangles and intrigue were the sole glimmers of hope for me with Newport. The book ended in a way that makes me think there might be a sequel and if for nothing else, I may pick up to see how the characters fare in the romance department.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.