Donna Ball's author bio at the back of Keys to the Castle says she "Has published more than eighty works of fiction since 1982, both under her own name and under pseudonyms Rebecca Flanders, Donna Carlisle, Leigh Bristol, Taylor Brady, and Donna Boyd." Yet Keys to the Castle is the first book of hers that I've read, although I've recommended her Ladybug Farm series. I think I've been missing something.
At forty-six, Sara Graves ranted at her sister that she had been plain old Sara Graves, a middle-aged workaholic who finally took a chance at adventure by marrying a French poet who lived in the U.S., and suddenly she's the widow of a man she only knew for three months. Even worse, she has to make a trip to France to settle her late husband's estate. She barely knew Daniel Orsay, and she doesn't think she deserves an estate in a country where she doesn't even speak the language. "It wasn't that she didn't want to go to France. She didn't want to say good-bye."
Ash Lindeman wasn't looking forward to greeting Sara Graves, either. As Daniel's closest friend, and his lawyer, he was responsible for handling Rondelais, Daniel's estate. It might be run-down, but it is a castle with a great deal of problems. One of the problems is Ash's ex-wife, Michele, Daniel's cousin, who wants the estate for herself. Since Michele was one of the biggest mistakes of his life, Ash is determined to see that Sara knows all of her options in selling or handling the property. Ash just didn't realize Sara's own determination. She planned to leave France, but she fell for the property. And, there seemed to be a spark between her and Ash. It's too bad Daniel left behind one secret that could ruin everyone's plans.
Keys to the Castle is a warm, charming story with two needy main characters. The characters, the gorgeous French setting, the castle itself, are all well-developed. And, it's refreshing to see the relationship between two middle-aged workaholics. Donna Ball's book swept me away to another world. She says, "Keys to the Castle is a grown-up fairy tale for those who no longer believe in second chances." I'm sure it will be only the first of her books that I'll read. If it's any indication, I've been missing some enjoyable stories.
Donna Ball's website is www.donnaball.net.
Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball. Berkley Books, ©2011. ISBN 9780425239308 (paperback), 336p.
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