Nora Roberts, Author . Putnam $25.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-14824-8

Triple-platinum romance doyenne Roberts spins a tale of bayou passions old and new in her latest romantic suspense novel, set on the grounds of a dilapidated postbellum mansion outside New Orleans. Declan Fitzgerald, a Harvard-educated Boston lawyer, has longed to possess Manet Hall ever since he and his friend, Remy Payne, broke into the old place as drunken students on a lark. Now, on the eve of his wedding, Declan leaves Boston, the law and his fiancée, buys the decrepit hall and embarks on a mission to restore it with his own sweat, blood and money. But Manet Hall comes with a dark history, and restoring it means uncovering its past, which includes rape, murder and betrayal. Declan encounters an additional challenge in the person of Cajun beauty and bar owner Lena Simone, who has her own dark history and a surprising connection to Manet Hall. As Declan digs deeper at the Hall, he often hears a baby crying. The cries are followed by voices, particularly that of Abigail Manet, the baby's mother. Abigail's story, which unfolds in 1900, is woven so tightly with Declan's that he finds it difficult to escape her grasp. In the end, only Lena can bring him back from the tragic past that threatens to engulf him. Roberts's role reversal—here it is the male character who hears voices and even swoons—gives her faithful readers a little extra thrill, and the lush setting and the satisfying if predictable romance round out the package. Literary Guild main selection. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/03/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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Mass Market Paperbound - 353 pages
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