Escape to this bestselling storyteller's world "full of mystery, romance, and suspense"* in this unforgettable and uplifting new novel about family secrets and the triumph of love. Celestria Montague always spends her summers at Pendrift Hall, the rambling, shabby mansion adorned with wisteria and clematis that has been home to the Montague family for generations. It is 1958, and the family is celebrating her father's fiftieth birthday at a lavish ball. The celebratory night ends in death and tragedy, however, and young Celestria learns that the family may lose Pendrift Hall. Her grandfather urges Celestria to play detective, to solve the mysteries surrounding the night's events, and to save the ancient mansion if at all possible. Her quest takes her to Italy's rugged and beautiful Puglia, and into the dark, cool cloisters of the Convento di Santa Maria del Mare. Here Celestria meets an enigmatic stranger and confronts unwelcome truths about her family -- and herself. Sea of Lost Loveis Santa Montefiore at her very best -- sensitive, sensual, and complex.
A young woman finds love and sudden maturity in this charmingly melodramatic romance from the author of The Gypsy Madonna. Tragedy strikes an upper-class English family at its Cornish manor house in 1958: Robert "Monty" Montague has vanished, leaving behind a pile of debts, a pair of shoes washed up on the beach, a drifting motorboat bearing his gold pocket watch and a note in a bottle that reads, "Forgive me." His spoiled daughter, the impossibly beautiful 21-year-old Celestria, is forced out of her shallow complacency to discover why her father, whom everyone loved and assumed to be so happy, apparently drowned himself. She follows a trail of bank statements to a seaside Italian convent converted into a family-run hotel. There, she encounters Hamish McCloud, a surly Scotsman who loathed Monty and, after a rocky start, develops a very different feeling toward Celestria. The prose is florid and fitting for the ridiculously, deliciously escapist whirlwind romance that envelopes Celestria and Hamish as the over-the-top revelations about Monty come to light. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 27, 2008
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Excerpt from Sea of Lost Love by Santa Montefiore
Cornwall, August 1958
As Father Miles Dalgliesh cycled up the drive towards the Montague family home, Pendrift Hall, he took pleasure from the golden sun that filtered through the lime trees, casting luminous spots of shimmering light onto the gravel and surrounding ferns, and swept his bespectacled eyes over lush fields of soft brown cows. A fresh breeze swept in off the sea and gulls wheeled beneath a cerulean sky. Father Dalgliesh was new in town. Old Father William Hancock had recently passed away to continue his work on the Other Side, leaving his young prodigy in the hot seat rather sooner than anticipated. Still, God had given him a challenge and he would rise to it with gladness in his heart.
Today he would meet the Montagues, the first family of Pendrift.
Pendrift Hall was a pale stone mansion adorned with wisteria, tall sash windows, and frothy gardens that tumbled down to the sea. Pigeons cooed from the chimney pots, and every year a family of swallows made its nest in the porch. The house was large and somewhat shabby, like a child's favorite toy worn out by love. It had an air of contentment, and Father Dalgliesh's spirits rose even higher when he saw it. He knew he'd like the family, and he anticipated an enjoyable afternoon ahead.
He stopped cycling and dismounted. A sturdy, white-faced Labrador bounded out of the front door, wagging his tail and barking excitedly. Father Dalgliesh bent to pat him and the dog stopped barking, sensing the young priest's gentle nature, and proceeded to sniff his shiny black shoes instead. The priest raised his eyes to the butler, who now stood in the doorway, dressed in a black tailcoat and pressed white shirt. The man nodded respectfully.
"Good morning, Father. Mrs. Montague is expecting you."
Father Dalgliesh leaned his bicycle against the wall and followed the butler through a large stone hall dominated by a sleeping fireplace and a large set of antlers. The air in the house was sweet with the memory of winter fires, cinnamon, and centuries of wear and tear. He noticed an open chest beneath the staircase, full of tennis rackets and balls, and an old grandfather clock that gently ticked against a wall like a somnolent footman. Classical music wafted from the drawing room with the low hum of distant voices. He took a deep breath.
"Father Dalgliesh, Mrs. Montague," the butler announced solemnly, indicating with a gesture of his hand that Father Dalgliesh should enter the room.
"Thank you, Soames," said Julia Montague, rising to greet him. "Father, welcome to Pendrift."
Father Dalgliesh shook her hand and was immediately put at ease by the warmth of her smile. She was voluptuous, with soft white skin, ash-�blond hair, and an open, gentle face. Julia Montague radiated so brightly that when she was present it was always a party. Wearing large beaded necklaces in pale greens and blues to match her eyes, with a laugh so infectious no one was immune -- not even that sourpuss Soames -- and a sense of humor that always made the best out of the worst, Julia was like a colorful bird of paradise that had made her nest in the very heart of tweedy Cornwall.
"The family are waiting to meet you on the terrace," she continued with a grin. "Can I get you a drink before I throw you to the wolves?"
Father Dalgliesh laughed, and Julia thought how handsome he was for a priest. There was something charming in the lines around his mouth when he smiled, and behind his glasses his eyes were deep set and intelligent. He was surprisingly young, too. He couldn't have been more than thirty.
"A glass of water would be fine, thank you," he replied.
"We have some homemade elderflower cordial; why don't you try some?"
"Why not? That would be very nice."
"Soames, two glasses of elderflower on the terrace, please."
Soames nodded and withdrew. Julia slipped her arm through the priest's and led him through the French doors into the sunshine.
The terrace was a wide York stone patio with irregular steps descending to the garden. Between the stones wild strawberries grew and tiny blue forget-me-nots struggled to be seen. Fat bees buzzed about large terra-cotta pots of arum lilies and freesias, and drank themselves dizzy in a thick border of lavender that grew against the balustrade lining the terrace. In the garden Santa Montefiore a gnarled weeping willow trailed her branches into a decorative pond where a pair of wild ducks had made their nest.
The family fell silent as Father Dalgliesh emerged with Julia. Archie Montague, Julia's husband, was the first to step forward. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he exclaimed heartily, shaking the priest's hand. "We were very sorry when Father Hancock died. He was an inspirational man."
"He was indeed. He has left me with the unenviable task of following in his footsteps."