Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Liza O'Connor reviews Dance for a Dead Princess by Deborah Hawkins

Today, I have Deborah Hawkins and her book, Dance of a Dead Princess.

Peep Rep: Shouldn't a dance for dead princess be a funeral march?

Liza: I'm reviewing the book, so I'll answer that later. Right now let me tell you about the prize.

Peep Rep: Oh, I love prizes. I apologize for questioning your dance with the dead. I'm sure when I read your book it will make complete sense. 

Liza: I'm sure it will. And one lucky person, hopefully NOT Peep Rep, will win a $25 gift card from either Amazon of B&N.

Now, let's find out more about this intriguing book that has garnered a great deal of attention:
Finalist, Foreward Reviews Book of the Year;  
Finalist, Beverly Hills Book Awards, 
Honorable Mention Paris Book Awards

Dance for a Dead Princess
by Deborah Hawkins


Nicholas Carey, 18th Duke of Burnham, international financier, is haunted by the loss of all the women he has ever loved.  Taylor Collins, a beautiful American attorney, struggles to regain the love of the man who left her at the altar.   A mystery rooted in the Carey family’s past throws Nicholas and Taylor into the midst of deadly international intrigue. 

His amazing golden eyes held hers.  She wanted to look away, but she couldn’t.  “We’ve a great deal in common,” he observed. 

“Such as?”

“We each lack a family.  And we both wished for one.”

Taylor felt as if he had sent an arrow into the deepest part of her soul.  But ever the professional, she remained impassive. “I don’t understand. You have your ward–and Ellen and her husband.  And you could marry whenever you wish and produce many Carey heirs.”

“It isn’t a matter of merely procreating,” Nicholas said.  “If I married anyone–and I’m not going to do that–I would want to be in love.”  His eyes held hers until she felt uncomfortable.  She had papered over her past with a thick set of lies, and she had told them so often sometimes she herself mistook them for the truth.  No one had ever guessed she was lying.  But could he?

Better change the subject in a big way.  “Why did meeting Deborah make you happy that you’d inherit the title after you’d been so miserable over being brought back from America?”

His golden eyes looked directly into hers and studied them for several seconds before he spoke.  “Because she didn’t love me.  Everyone loved her, and everyone wanted her.  But I knew I’d get her in the end because I was going to be the Duke of Burnham, and she loved the idea of being a duchess.  Despicable, wasn’t it?”

He immediately realized he’d backed her into a corner.  “I apologize.  I shouldn’t have said that.”

Taylor thought of the wedding photos:  Nicholas gazing at Deborah with his heart in his eyes while she looked cooly at the camera.  “I wouldn’t say ‘despicable.’  You really loved her.  You weren’t just offering her a title.  You were offering her your heart.”

The book is set in England 2010 and the author introduces the memories of real people into her book of fiction, most notably Princess Diana, who died in 1997. The hero, Nicholas, his grace, the 18th Duke of Burnham and Diana, Princess of Wales, had been friends. She had also been best friends with his wife, Deborah.  He is the second richest man in England, and possibly the saddest.

When the story opens, the Duke is once again single, having lost the woman he loved, and he intends to remain so. He also has an out-of-control ward named Lucy who hates him. In truth, he’s had more than enough heart break and disappointments in his life. The women he dates now are just social appendages, nothing more. Then he meets Taylor...

Taylor is a young American lawyer, and she has neither the time nor interest in working on the English duke’s desire to sell one of his properties, but the senior partner of her firm insists.

So she travels to England and heads to his Abby and burrows through the endless papers, trying to prove the duke can legally sell the fabulous building. In the process, she comes upon the diaries of the Duke’s ancestors. 

The author, by allowing Taylor to read letters from long ago, introduces the reader to love triangles of the past generations, the complexities and oddities of Princess Diana, Nicholas and Taylor’s past, and their current lives. These weaving tales expose surprising similarities in their intrigue and betrayal .

This is an amazingly complex story, beautifully crafted with all the strings tied in bows along the way. It is entirely unpredictable, yet believable, not just in the current parts, but the past as well.
The twists and turns never stop.

If you want a simple love story, this isn’t it. But if you like to be intrigued, surprised, and shocked, I highly recommend this book. And yes, there is an HEA, but they really have to work for it. Nothing easy here.

Since I like complexity that's tied up nicely, I give this 5 stars.

Deborah grew up in the South, wrote her first novel at the of age thirteen, and has been writing ever since. In graduate school, she studied Irish Literature and came to believe all Irishmen and Southerners are born storytellers. In addition to writing, she loves music and plays the clarinet. Now that her children are grown, she devotes her time to law, music, writing, and her two Golden Retrievers, Melody and Rhythm.

Deborah taught college English and worked as a technical editor before going to law school. She worked for several large East Cost firms before coming to California in the mid-1980's where she developed a solo practice as an appellate attorney while raising her three children as a single parent. She is admitted to the bar in two states and the District of Columbia, is a certified appellate specialist, and has a Master of Laws in addition to a Masters in English. She believes that even a legal case always begins with a story.  Her second novel, Ride Your Heart ‘Til It Breaks is expected to be out in December 2014.



  1. Thanks for hosting and for your wonderful review! I am always so thrilled when readers see and appreciate the layers of Dance For A Dead Princess and are entertained by them. Thanks again!

  2. Enjoyed reading this great review today. I've enjoyed following your tour and getting to know more about you and your books.

  3. sounds like a good read. DO you have a routine that gets you into the spirit of writing?

  4. What a really great review. This sounds like a wonderful story.

  5. Thanks for a great review! I read a less informative description a couple months ago and wasn't interested in the book. I am now. :-)


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