VCA Recaps: Gates of Paradise Part 6 (Final)

Part 1 here.

This recap will cover Chapters 21-24.

Luke Jr and Annie can barely keep their eyes off each other on the plane ride back to Winnerow. They spend the flight catching one another up on what they’ve missed.

They arrive at Hasbrouck House and the servants basically weep at the sight of Annie. She vows to Luke to never take anything for granted again as she lays in her bed drinking in her familiar surroundings.

Fanny shoos Luke away so she and Annie can talk about why Annie dyed her hair blonde and how Fanny knew that Heaven wasn’t her real sister. Fanny admits how badly she treated Heaven when all her sister wanted was to keep her family together.

“I neva realized the real reason she was runnin’ all about tryin’ to reunite the family. She needed her family more’n I did, even though she was surrounded by all them rich things. She was also surrounded by crazy loons, too. That grandmother all shut up in her own madness. Tony Tatterton…who knows what else went on there. And we left ya in their hands…”

Annie tells her aunt that it isn’t her fault. Fanny seems be feeling guilt for everything that happened with Heaven and also with Drake. Annie tells her that whatever she did in the past is done with and that she’s made up for it.

Fanny seems awed, asking her if she means it when it comes to Luke Jr. Annie does. Then Fanny gets sad because she isn’t really her aunt but Annie has figured out what her mother did long ago—that blood relationships aren’t everything.

Annie gets to thinking to all that her mother endured by learning she really wasn’t a Casteel and begins to feel some of it as well. After she thanks her aunt for bringing her home, Annie imagines what her parents would say about her condition.

She gets upset over her parents and Luke comes into comfort her. He ends up falling asleep in her bed by her feet and seems embarrassed when he wakes up there.

In the morning Annie’s family doctor comes to check on her. He seems suspicious about the behavior of her Boston doctor and encourages her to stand so long as she doesn’t overdo it.

Once the doctor leaves, Annie wants Luke to catch her up even more on what he’s been up to while she’s been at Farthy, asking about girlfriends. Annie discovers that Drake lied about Luke having a girlfriend. She also tells Luke about some of the things that Tony did.

Annie also reveals that the man who called Aunt Fanny was really Troy Tatterton. She pleads with Luke to help her into her wheelchair and he holds her for a long moment and they do some of their pretending. She pretends to be asleep and he kisses her to wake her up.

After Aunt Fanny and Mrs. Avery, one of the servants, helps Annie gets ready for breakfast, she has her first meal at the table without her parents there. After, Annie asks Luke to accompany her to the hair salon. They talk about future spouses and finally decide that those people should just marry each other.

Luke tells Annie that then they can grow old together and live in Hasbrouck House. Annie wonders if they could be happy that way. Luke tells her that as long as she is happy, he is, too. Annie worries that she is holding Luke back from living a normal life but he assures her that she isn’t, that he can’t marry anyone unless they are just like her.

Annie gets her hair dyed back to its original color and also agrees to a french braid that renders Luke speechless when he sees her. They head back home.

Annie asks if she can attempt to stand in the gazebo and Luke agrees. Luke shows her a faded hair ribbon he found in the gazebo when she was gone. It made him believe that she would come back to him. He admits to even sleeping with it in his dorms.

With the help of a walker, Annie practices walking. She does so well that she gets cocky and decides to try without it. She makes it to Luke and they are so happy that they kiss.

Someone angrily yells Annie’s name and they turn to see Drake there, looking very angry. Drake rushes over and begins to blame Luke for taking advantage of her. He even brings Luke’s mother into things. Annie pleads with them not to fight and when Drake begins to get violent, she falls to the floor and blacks out. Again.

After the doctor checks her out again, Annie asks Drake in to talk. He is as stubborn as he was at Farthy. Annie tries to tell him the truth but he won’t hear of it, sure she just wanted to be back so she and Luke can be perverted with one another.

Drake tells Annie that he will take her back to Farthy whenever she comes to her senses before he leaves. He seems very concerned with all that Tony has to offer them.

Later Luke comes to see her and tells her he has been at the Willies cabin thinking. Annie tells him about her encounter with Drake. When Luke mentions how she and him share the same blood, Annie admits that they don’t share the Casteel blood—that Tony was telling the truth about that.

They still believe they are half siblings though. After some inappropriate words, kisses, and touches, Luke tells her that they can’t do this and that he is going to stay away until Annie is better and he can control himself. He then leaves.

Annie is upset and Fanny calms her down, also admitting that she saw how close she and Luke were getting but that she didn’t know how to stop it.

A week and a half goes by. One day Annie bravely enters her parents’ bedroom. She gets to thinking about the cottage replica and wonders if it had been Troy Tatterton who sent her mother the gift. She thinks of the little people inside and how much they resembled Heaven and Troy.

She goes to look inside of the cottage again, looking closer at the details. When she notices a back door is somewhat ajar, she opens it and finds a letter inside. The letter Troy wrote to Heaven the morning after they made love for the last time and after Jillian died.

Annie realizes that Troy and her mother must have been lovers…and that they were related. She wishes Heaven could return just to talk to her since she would know how Annie feels with Luke being gone.

Shortly after all of this, Annie learns that someone from Farthy is calling. She answers and is surprised to hear from Troy, who tells her that Tony has died from a stroke. He tells her when the funeral will be and Annie tells him that she will be there.

Aunt Fanny can’t believe Annie wants to go. Annie calls Luke and when he hears about Tony, he agrees to take her to the funeral. He tells her that he loves her, that he can’t help it, and that he will live with it until he dies. Annie tells him that so will she.

Later Drake calls to break the news about Tony and is surprised that Annie already knows. He brags about how he is basically Tony’s heir.

The next day Annie and Luke arrive at Farthy for the funeral. Drake is in charge and acts coolly toward them. Annie introduces Luke to Troy. After the funeral, Troy invites them back to his cottage for a snack.

After asking about their plans, Troy comes to a decision. He tells them that he has to tell them something that involves Heaven. Annie tells him that they already know, explaining about the letter she found in the cottage.

Troy tells Annie of how he and Heaven fell in love and how he believes that she is his daughter, not Logan’s. That she and Luke are not related after all.

“Believe me, I agonized over telling you all this, for I feared you would think less of your mother because of it, but I finally concluded that Heaven would have wanted me to tell you so that you and Luke would not lose one another as she and I did.

“If there is truly a curse on the Tattertons, it is born out of refusal to be honest with our hearts, and I will not let that happen to you.”

For a long moment no one speaks. Annie then takes Troy’s hand and smiles.

I hated no one; I faulted no one. Actions taken long ago had determined that two families as different as night and day would cross paths and destinies. The turmoil that resulted swept up both houses, kept them forever in the midsts of winds of passion and hate, driving some mad, shaking the very foundations of both families.

Now Luke and I stood alone in this confusion. Now my true father had decided it was time to end it. He showed us the way out of the maze.

When Annie tells Troy that they don’t hate anyone, he tells her that she has so much of Heaven in her and hopes it overpowers the melancholy she may have inherited from him.

Annie calls Troy her father and he gives Luke his blessing. After Annie and Luke bid Troy goodbye, they head back to the car. Annie thinks of how they will visit her father, imaging him one day greeting their children.

They stop at the cemetery once more. Annie gets to looking at Luke and thinking of their fantasy worlds. Luke asks Annie to be his princess. Annie agrees and they head back to the car to start their life together.

This book ended up being better than I remembered it being but I could definitely tell it had been ghostwritten completely. It’s the weakest book in the Casteels for me but it was still enjoyable. Annie and Luke are never going to be a couple I care about but I did like how the Casteels and Tattertons finally came together in the end.

I do wonder about the reactions of Aunt Fanny, Drake, and pretty much everyone in Winnerow though. Overall it’s been a fun ride and this has been a fun recap to poke fun at. I will be definitely be doing the prequel to the Casteel series, Web of Dreams, later on this month.

 

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