By: Deborah Hawkins
Like many of us, I was always fascinated by Diana, Princess of Wales. Even after
her death, I continued to read about her. I was amazed to discover that in January 1997, she received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found. My fiction brain switched on and Dance for a Dead Princess was born.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham. As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
Dance for A Dead Princess is a the story of two great loves that created and preserved a family that has lasted for five hundred years.
Conference rooms are all the same. As are airports. On a cold, wet, mid-November afternoon, His Grace, the Eighteenth Duke of Burnham, decided that those who thought running the Burnham Trust was a glamorous job should go from London to Paris to Brussels to New York seeing only conference rooms and airports. He was now trapped in one of the beastly things on the twenty-eighth floor of the Manhattan offices of Craig, Lewis, and Weller, studying the deepening early twilight. His mood was as black as the coming night.
He looked down the nine-foot glossy mahogany conference table and wondered why it took five lawyers to sell a house to a girls’ school. And why weren’t any of them the one he wanted to see? His operative had named Taylor Collins, a partner in the Craig, Lewis real estate section, as was the one likely to know where Diana’s tape was. He’d told Hollis Craig he wouldn’t sell the Abbey to his daughter’s school unless Taylor was on the deal. Yet he’d been trapped in this conference room for more than an hour with no sign of her. He bet she looked at least forty-five and was twenty pounds overweight.
And probably chain smoked and had a face like a bulldog. He didn’t look forward to
dealing with her.
The massive, dark mahogany door to the conference room opened, and another female suit stepped inside. A pair of eyes the color of spring violets were fixed on him. Very like Diana’s eyes, but deeper.
“My partner, Taylor Collins, Your Grace.”
His heart was racing so fast, he had difficulty speaking; so he merely nodded in response. At thirty-nine, she looked ten years younger. She was barely five one and probably weighed all of a hundred pounds. She was wearing an obviously expensive, form-hugging black wool suit. Her jacket allowed the demure ruffle of her blouse to spill over its dark edge, highlighting the single strand of perfect pearls circling her creamy throat. Her dark hair was pulled back into the usual professional woman’s knot, revealing more perfect pearl drops in her exquisite little ears. He wondered what she looked like when her hair was wild and free. Her face was impassively professional, yet he sensed much more lay beneath the surface. Physically he was drawn to her so strongly he wondered what color La Perlas she was wearing, but he longed for more than sex. He desperately craved the impossible: time alone and the chance to know who she was
beneath the lawyer facade.
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