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9 July 2014

The Heir
Deborah Hill
North Road Publishing
Publication Date
March 2014 (and ed)
historical, romance


The Heir Emily Merrick, enjoying the new-found freedom of the Roaring 20’s, discovers that liberation can come at a high price. But it is her son, Steven, who will pay it. Raised under the crushing heel of the man Emily tricks into marrying her, young Steven endures the malicious control of his step-father by escaping to his memories of Kingsland, the Merrick estate in Waterford, on Cape Cod Bay. Its steadfast presence sustains him, as well as his love of the sea, as he endures the constant humiliations devised by his mother’s husband. Instead of entering Harvard, as he is supposed to do, Steven flees to Kingsland and lives there while he learns a trade in defiance of his pretentious step-father. He finds the simple life of the countryman a relief after the constricting pretentions with which he’s grown up. Eventually he saves enough money to enter the college of his choice, graduating just in time to join the corporate culture of the 50’s. By then he has inherited Kingsland, and when promotion passes him by, he again flees to Waterford, this time with his family. There he confronts the challenge of earning a living in so remote a place, and in the process of piecing together the possibilities meets Jenny Lawrence, an ancient lumber schooner that has been converted into a Windjammer. She cruises Nantucket Sound, carrying passengers to the picturesque ports of Martha’s Vineyard and to Nantucket itself, and from her, Steven will learn the wisdom of the tides and the wind. She will teach him that there is an alternative to his generation’s frantic post-war climb to the top, and she will carry him to the first woman – the only woman – he has ever loved, a woman through whom he will learn about the shame of his legacy, and a way to restore its honour.

My Review

This is the final volume in the Kingsland Series, and this book starts in in 1920's. Things have certainly for the women - they go to parties, and alcohol flows. Emily Merrick enjoys all this and when she is asked after a party to go out on his boat by dashing Tim Bradley , she can't resist adventure. But their love making by the beach is not without consequences. When Emily realises, and Tim has vanished, she has no option but to trick the rather unpleasant Charles into marrying her. But Charles finds out quickly that all is not what it seems with Emily's pregnancy - with devastating consequences for Emily and her son Steven. Charles marries her and brings up Steven like his own son, but he treats them absolutely dreadfully and they have no choice but to obey him. 

But Steven grows up, and the majority of the story really is devoted to Steven and his life story through his first love, his marriage, working in corporate America of the 50's with a suburban home. But his real love is the sea. And Steven is the heir of Kingsland. 

As always, all the characters are beautifully drawn. The romances are clean and believable, and the author keeps great attention to detail as this 3rd volume we come closer to the decades many readers may have experienced themselves. For me, being slightly older, it was fascinating to read about the corporate culture of 1950's America. In some ways not so much different to the dog-eat-dog culture often quoted today. At the same time, I really felt like the author had planted me back in that decade.

 I think my favourite volume remained Vol 2 - Augusta and her sacrifice shall remain in my mind for a while. Kingsland is a family saga, starting back in early 1700 in coastal Maine, giving us the stories of several different lines of the Merrick family. It's the women who are, as so often, are the real heroes. The only negative thing for me was that I could not see the family tree which the author provided on the Kindle (too small).