VCA Recaps: Web of Dreams Part 2

Just like in my previous VCA recaps, these will be full of SPOILERS so do not continue if you do not want to be spoiled/haven’t read it. Thank you!

Part 1 here.

This recap will cover Chapters 6–11.

Jillian doesn’t come home for hours. When she finally does, she arrives looking perfect and happy. She chides Leigh for being upset over the divorce and explains why she wasn’t happy with her father. All shallow reasons like how much older he is, how cooped up she feels on board, how much she is missing out on society, etc.

When Leigh lets her know that she saw the invitations, Jillian breaks the news that she is indeed getting married—and to Tony Tatterton. On Christmas, and they are all going to be living at Farthy. Thinking back to when I was twelve, that is definitely not an easy thing for Leigh to swallow.

Jillian pleads with Leigh to be her “best friend” from now on. She isn’t saying it out loud but basically she’s over being a mother. Then, you know, she has to go into how she fell in love with Tony, because you totally should tell your daughter all about it. She claims they didn’t have an affair but she is such a liar about everything else that I don’t really believe her about that.

Also, Jillian makes her promise to never tell Tony her real age. Cleave arrives later on and tells Leigh that he has a room at the Hilton when she asks about where he will be staying. Jillian takes Cleave into his office for a private talk. Leigh is upset when Cleave later leaves without saying goodbye. Poor girl.

Leigh later gets a letter from Raymond, one of the boys she met on the cruise and shows the letter off at school. Thanksgiving arrives and Jillian takes Leigh to Farthy to celebrate it with Tony, Troy, and important friends of Tony’s. Two weeks later, Leigh and Jillian return to Farthy for a wedding rehearsal. Jillian regrets inviting some of her older friends and voices this out loud to Leigh.

Once at Farthy, Troy is excited to show off a snowman he has made out front. Tony shows Leigh her new rooms, where she will be getting ready for the rehearsal as well as living from now on. The rooms are beautiful but Leigh worries about betraying her father’s love. Tony helps her zip up her dress when she comes out looking for her mother.

After the rehearsal is over, Leigh lets Troy drag her into the maze to find hedge trimmings for his snowman. He shows her the cottage at the end and demonstrates that he knows how to make a fire. He is a very mature four year old. They stay long enough for the snow to cover their tracks and can’t find their way back through the maze again.

Leigh and Troy are frozen by the time they are found. Troy is whisked off to a bath and Tony suggests Jillian do the same for Leigh. Jillian is upset over Leigh embarrassing her. Even Tony notices how unconcerned she is over Leigh shivering and helps her up to her new bathroom.

He runs her a hot bath and convinces her to let him help undress her down to her underwear. Once she’s in the bath, he comes in with a robe and she feels very uncomfortable, hoping he can’t see anything. He even dips his fingers into the bathwater.

A bit later, Jillian storms in to rant some more about how embarrassed she is about what Leigh did. Who knew getting lost in a maze during a snow storm was so embarrassing? When Leigh mentions that Troy wanted to get hedge trimmings, Jillian complains about how spoiled and undisciplined he is. She makes Leigh feel bad enough about what happened (right before her wedding!) to apologize.

Well…you should be. This wedding is the most important thing that has ever happened to me…or to you, young lady.”

Due to the snow, Jillian and Leigh stay over. Jillian talks to Leigh about how she will be having her own rooms even when she’s married because women need their privacy for their beauty routines and letting men see them makes them less mysterious.

Tony later brings Leigh dinner and says he hopes she will learn to love Farthy as much as he does. He also gets her to let him kiss her good night. Later, Jillian comes by to tell her that they will be leaving in the morning after breakfast. She also tells Leigh that she will help her see that all of their days from now on will be exciting.

On the way home in the morning, Jillian talks about her honeymoon and also about Winterhaven, the private girl school Tony is going to get Leigh enrolled in. Poor Leigh is just having everything taken from her. When she gets home, she has a letter from her father. It makes her sad.

Later on Jillian reveals that Jana, her mother, has agreed to come to the wedding and will probably arrive in a few hours. Indeed she does come a few hours later. The first thing Jana does is take Jillian into Cleave’s office to talk. The door is left a crack open so Leigh can hear everything.

First Jana bitches Jillian out over her marriage to Cleave. Leigh’s heart breaks when she hears her mother confess that she never loved his. It shatters when Jana reveals that Jillian got knocked up by a man named Chester Godwin. She asks Jillian if Cleave know that Leigh isn’t really his child.

Jana is disgusted at Jillian not only marrying a much younger man but also that she is lying about her age to him.

“Disgusting. Another life built on lies. I have a good mind to turn right around and head straight home, but I came and I’ll stay for Leigh’s sake. That poor child having to be dragged through one thing after another by her selfish, vain, foolish mother.”

Her heart broken, Leigh vows to never tell Cleave the truth and that he will always be her father anyway. She then thinks back to her mother telling her how nice girls didn’t have sex until they got married. Suddenly she realizes just how big of a hypocrite Jillian is.

Jana is impressed with Farthy when they take her to meet Tony, something that makes Jillian happy. The servants wait on her hand and foot.

The morning of the wedding arrive and Leigh is sad that they will be leaving their Boston house and the servants she has grown to love. Cleave has found them jobs on his liner at least.

They arrive at Farthy and it looks beautiful but of course Jillian complains about Troy’s snowman still being out front. Witch. The wedding proceeds and Leigh spends a lot of it wondering how much her mother’s oaths really mean since she had broken them before with her father.

Later Troy shows Leigh all of the wedding presents and sadly confesses that he is unhappy about the wedding because he knows Jillian doesn’t like him.

“She looks at me with growls in her eyes,” he said quickly.
“Growls? What’s growls?”
He growled like a dog.
“Oh.” I started to laugh, but saw he was very serious.

Leigh makes excuses that Jillian just isn’t used to little boys. Troy doesn’t seem very hopeful but is happy that Leigh is his sister and here with him now.

Later Jillian takes Leigh up to her suite to show her a prenuptial agreement between her and Tony. Leigh is confused by the need for it. Jillian calls her stupid and advises her to never trust a man. She tells Leigh that she is showing her this so she won’t worry about their future—no matter what, they’re rich! How very Corrine Foxworth of her.

Jana heads for the airport and back to Texas but before she goes, she invites Leigh to come stay with her if she isn’t happy. After, Tony and Jillian head off for their honeymoon, leaving Leigh with just the servants and Troy.

Leigh fills her hours with Troy. For Christmas he gifts her a ceramic horse that he made with a girl on it made to represent her. Leigh gets a heart shaped locket with a picture of her and her father inside from Cleave.

On New Years, Troy tries to say up until midnight but falls asleep. Cleave calls to wish Leigh a happy new year. Troy wakes up in the morning sick enough that his nanny takes him to the hospital. When she returns, she tells Leigh that Troy has pneumonia.

Leigh worries about Troy. Jillian comes home from her honeymoon some time later but doesn’t seem concerned at all about her new husband’s little brother. She is tired from her honeymoon, from her new husband’s energy levels, and needs to sleep. Leigh can’t wrap her head around Jillian not being at the hospital with Tony.

Later on Leigh goes to the hospital to check on Troy. Tony seems surprised and as the evening goes on, takes her to dinner. He complains about how little Jillian wanted to do on their honeymoon. When they get back to Farthy, Jillian is awake and annoyed that Leigh left.

Once Tony goes away, Jillian complains to Leigh about how tired Tony has made her with his energy. She even talks about their sex life.

“He makes love like he’s raping me,” she explained.

She pleads with Leigh to be her best friend and to help her keep Tony occupied by doing activities with him that she has no desire to do. That doing so will help him not need her so much. She tells Leigh that she will need to spend her weekends home with him. Leigh is very unsure about all of this but reluctantly agrees.

I didn’t know what to say. What was I agreeing to do?

Troy continues to get better. Jillian’s vanity gets worse and she takes even more time with her beauty routines. One evening Leigh overhears Tony and Jillian’s first spat. They are arguing about sex. Jillian is claiming that it is threatening her health but Tony calls out bullshit on that.

When Leigh goes in to talk to her mother after, Jillian reminds her of her promise to keep Tony occupied. Leigh protests that Tony won’t want to be with her and that he married Jillian so that must mean he wants to be with her. Jillian says he just needs companionship.

Leigh also discovers that Jillian won’t be going with her to school in the morning—Tony will. She suspects that Jillian doesn’t want everyone to see that she has a daughter almost as old as she wants them to think she is.

In the morning Leigh wakes to find Tony standing and staring down at her.

After breakfast, they leave for Winterhaven. Jillian is still in her bed.

I’m still enjoying the re-read and it is definitely looking like Jillian is grooming Leigh to be Tony’s plaything. Or is it just me?

Anyway, next Leigh goes to Winterhaven and unlike her future daughter, makes a friend easily.

 

 

 

 

VCA Recaps: Web of Dreams Part 1

Just like in my previous VCA recaps, these will be full of SPOILERS so do not continue if you do not want to be spoiled/haven’t read it. Thank you!

Web of Dreams (Casteel #5) by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)

With nowhere to go, no one to help her, Leigh fled into the arms of Luke Casteel!

Leigh VanVoreen had to escape from Boston’s Farthinggale Manor. The foul secret she harbored within her seemed to darken her life forever. Jillian, her mother, would not believe her…and Tony Tatterton, her stepfather, had betrayed her most cruelly.

But the pure devotion of Luke Casteel promised her hope and respect. Only Luke knew her deepest of secrets…only Luke would love and protect her. Bravely she bore the suspicions of the Willies’ hillfolk, as she tried to grasp the happiness that had so long eluded her. Leigh prayed with all her heart that her bright, shining dreams would save her from tragedy at last…

 

This recap will cover the prologue–Chapter 5.

The prologue begins with Luke and Annie returning to Farthinggale Manor for Troy’s funeral. Annie goes inside, finds herself in Jillian’s suite, and then discovers a diary that Leigh left. While this is definitely a stretch, not to mention a huge plot hole if this diary actually goes to the Willies/end of Leigh’s life, I guess it works.

Leigh’s story begins on her 12th birthday when her father gives her the diary (he calls it her logbook because he is the owner of a cruise boat line). Her father, Cleave, is shown as loving but somewhat of a workaholic. Her mother, Jillian, is shown to be loving but also narcissistic. There are also hints that she is either seeing or wants to see Tony Tatterton sprinkled throughout the beginning. She even gets Leigh to agree to go see the mansion where she is doing fairytale murals.

One day Leigh pleads with Jillian to tell her the story of how her and Cleave met/fall in love and notes that the details of the story always changes. Jillian also gives herself a pity party each time and compares her story to Cinderella’s.

Jillian’s mother, Jana, is painted as someone really uptight, which I never noticed in later books. Me thinks Jillian is full of it. Jillian gives Leigh some very confusing advice on being a woman and on men a well.

To celebrate Leigh’s birthday, Cleave takes her and Jillian out for dinner. He announces that they are going to be going to Jamaica on one of his cruise lines in a week. Jillian complains about the timing despite her earlier ranting to Leigh about how Cleave NEVER takes her anywhere she wants, including places like Jamaica. I think this really shows Jillian character.


That weekend Jillian takes Leigh to see Farthinggale Manor. All of the staple servants from the last book such as Miles, Curtis, and Rye Whiskey are introduced. Jillian is visibly excited and even Leigh can see how taken she is with Tony. Leigh is understandably nervous around the handsome man but instantly takes to his younger brother, Troy. Tony takes all of them on a tour.

Afterwards, Tony gives Leigh a birthday present, a golden necklace with a cruise liner charm on it. Jillian expects Leigh to thank him with a kiss on a cheek and Leigh can feel Tony’s breath on her neck when he puts the necklace on her. Leigh is troubled by how her mother is acting towards Tony but can’t quite grasp what is going on.

While Jillian works on the mural, Tony takes Leigh and Troy to the private beach. Tony tells Leigh about how his and Troy’s parents died—their father actually had a heart attack while in a maze.

Troy is sad when Jillian says it’s time for them to leave. On the way home, Jillian gets in a tirade over her age and even Leigh is starting to wonder about her mother’s obsession with it. Leigh also begins to wonder what it would be like to be married after her mother reveals that Tony thinks she is 28, which would mean she would have had Leigh at 16. Jillian is apparently in her 30s or 40s but doesn’t look it and has no issue blatantly lying about it.

Leigh brings up how sweet she thought Troy was and how she would like to be a teacher. Jillian is very anti-teacher, assuming all teachers are ugly and she says she wants Leigh to end up marrying rich and having a grand estate. Ugh.

Jillian begins to prepare for the bon voyage party the will celebrate Cleave’s new cruise to Jamaica, insisting on him using the most luxurious ship—called The Jillian, of course—and inviting famous people.

The night of the party arrives and Jillian has also invited Tony Tatterton. Her attraction toward him is so obvious that even Cleave notices and frowns. Tony gets Leigh to dance with him. For now he’s not too creepy. Jillian also scolds Leigh not to gorge herself on food. Yep, this woman is definitely a shallow narcissist.

The cruise to Jamaica begins but all Jillian can do is complain about everything despite the ship sounding super luxurious. Leigh goes with her father down below deck one day and accidentally gets grease on one of her new outfits, which of course sends Jillian into a rage.

Leigh is dismayed when she overhears her parents arguing. Her mother gets seasick for a few days and then decides to take an airplane back to Boston. Leigh is left at the ship with her father, who is so overwhelmed with work that she tags along with some new girl friends.

Leigh tries to fill her time now that her mother is gone and father busy with work. She meets two boys, Fulton and Raymond, who hang out and are attracted to her. One of them insists that she could be a high school senior instead of a 12 year old.

One night she is supposed to have dinner alone with her father but is dismayed when she discovers he has invited the captain of the ship along. Later on she realizes that maybe he’s having a hard time with her mother’s departure too.

On the day before the cruise ends, the boys give Leigh their addresses and one of them kisses her on the cheek. In the morning, Cleave goes to Leigh before breakfast to break some bad news: her mother has gone to Mexico to get a divorce from him.

Leigh is understandably upset, especially when Cleave tells her that she will be staying with her mother and he will be on a month-long cruise journey. She tries to be brave for her dad. After breakfast, the ship docks and Leigh is upset when her mother sends a driver to get her instead of coming herself.

Her mother isn’t home when she gets there. Leigh goes into her father’s office, realizing how different things are going to be without him around. She goes into her mother’s suite and notices something in the sitting room. It’s a stack of printed wedding invitations.

Poor Leigh. Her mother is a selfish bitch!

Even though the beginning was a bit boring at times, I really enjoyed Leigh’s voice. There were a few sentences that were strange, especially this line Leigh thinks about her father: I yearned to have him hold me so tight I couldn’t breathe, to warm my lips with his kisses, and to make me feel like everything would be okay.

Overall I liked it and I feel like Jillian’s character is well done. While she’s a selfish narcissist at the start, her character just seems to get even more so as the story unravels.

Next, Leigh learns who her mother has fallen in love with and makes a new friend.

 

 

 

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.

 

VCA Recaps: Gates of Paradise Part 5

Part 1 here.

This recap will cover Chapters 17-20

Mrs. Broadfield helps Annie take a hot bath. Tony calls worriedly from the sitting room and Mrs. Broadfield explains what happened and assures him that Annie will be OK. She touches Annie inappropriately again. Creepy woman.

Annie takes a nap afterward and has a sexy dream about Luke. He ends up taking her away from Farthy on a horse as Tony watches from a window. She feels bad for leaving the shadowy figure standing behind him.

She stays in bed recuperating all day. Rye comes by later to see how she is doing. He then explains how he saw Mrs. Broadfield putting medicine in the food. Annie realizes that was no medicine.

Annie accuses Mrs. Broadfield later but the nurse plays dumb. She blames Rye and suggests Mr. Tatterton may even fire him. Annie laughs at that because Rye has been with Tony for a long time and would never fire him. She’s probably not wrong.

Later Annie tells Tony of her suspicions. He seems dubious at first but finally believes her. He assures Annie that she will be replaced immediately. Then he has Parsons bring in a big carton.

It ends up being an easel with lots of supplies. Something for Annie to do to pass the time. She isn’t sure if she will be able to paint again but promises to try. Tony tells her that Drake brought one of her paintings from home and that he has it framed in his office now.

The men in these books sure do suck at boundary issues.

When Annie asks Tony if he will call Luke, he promises to return to tell her about it afterward. She begins to draw a picture of her parent’s monument and the cemetery. Hours pass. She only stops when she realizes Tony is standing there watching. God what a creeper.

 

After refusing a sedative, Tony allows Annie to continue to work while he goes to do whatever he does. Annie begins to resent being told what to do. She starts feeling pressure in her feet and decides to test them. Just as she is beginning to stand, Tony returns.

Of course he gets panicked seeing her stand. That means she will soon be able to run away! He tries to tell her to take it easy but Annie is too excited to listen to him. When Tony tells Annie that Luke won’t be able to come see her because of an entrance exam, she looses her balance and falls to the floor.

She blacks out and when she regains consciousness, her doctor is there. He agrees with Tony that she needs to take things easy. After, Tony tells Annie that he has built a ramp outside so she can travel the grounds when she is ready. He begins to talk about how she can just get around whenever she wants in time but Annie tells him that she’ll be getting better soon, shattering his fantasy.

Tony turns his attention on her drawing and when he suggests she paint some of the nicer things at Farthy, Annie points out that the grounds need some work. He ignores her and talks about Jillian in present tense. He’s really beginning to lose it.

 

He snaps out of it and Annie realizes she is wearing a different nightgown. She is embarrassed at the thought of Tony changing her but he denies it and gets her to take a sedative.

In the morning Tony is opening her curtains as Annie awakes, being able to move her legs more than she had been able to before. He panics when she tries to get into her chair by herself, insisting that she has to rest.

Tony then helps her take a bath to her embarrassment. He even offers to scrub her back, bragging that he used to do so for her grandmother and mother. Yeah…that’s not creepy or anything.

When she sees and feels him inhaling against her neck, she snaps him out of it. He makes a comment about how much she reminds him of Leigh now and she privately regrets dying her hair, realizing it seemed to confuse Tony at times.

After breakfast, Tony returns in creased clothing and is acting weird again (big surprise). When Annie tells him that she feels stronger today and suggests they go on an outing, Tony tells her that he promises to give her a home and all that goes with it.

Annie expresses her confusion but he continues, saying one day she will be more Bostonian than he is and not to bring any of her hillbilly relatives around. As she becomes more confused, Tony snaps out of it and tells her he was in deep thought before leaving the room. Rye comes up with her tray and Annie expresses concern for Tony but he basically waves it off.

 

Annie goes back to painting and Drake arrives after lunch. She tells him about Mrs. Broadfield and how she can stand now. When she expresses her concern about Tony and the doctor making her rest her legs, Drake agrees with them. The subject turns toward Luke and how Drake still can’t get a hold of him.

 

By now Annie has had enough and asks Drake to take her to a phone so she can call Luke herself. She confesses that she doesn’t think Tony has been trying to get a hold of him. Drake sticks up for Tony of course. Annie tries to tell Drake that Tony has been getting worse, more senile each day but he won’t listen to her.

 

She also tries to tell him about some of the weird things Tony has been doing but Drake insists that all of her paranoid thoughts must be because of the medicine. He wants to talk to her doctor and Annie begins to wonder if he is somehow in on this too. She finally gives up on trying to talk to Drake, realizing Tony’s hold is too strong.

 

Drake finally promises that he will come back tomorrow and if she still feels the same, he will take her back to Winnerow. Annie tries to get Drake to take her downstairs to use the phone but he makes excuse after excuse until he leaves. Once he does, she decides she will just have to do so herself.

She manages to get downstairs to Tony’s office with the elevator chair and second wheelchair down below. Luke isn’t there when she calls but one of his dorm mates takes her frantic message. Next she goes to open the front door and when she sees the ramp, she thinks of Luke’s advice to “go for the tall ones” and takes a chance going down it.

 

She wheels around the grounds until she comes to the maze. After gazing at it for a few moments, someone asks if she wants to go in. The man she keeps seeing at the monument steps out of the shadows. When Annie asks who he is, he introduces himself hesitantly as Timothy Brothers. He tells her that she doesn’t have to tell him who she is and asks if her hair is her natural color or dyed like Heaven did when she was here.

 

Annie asks him how he knew her mother. “Timothy” tells her that he works for Tony as a toy creator and that he was Troy’s apprentice. They chat for a bit before he takes her into the maze, where they continue to talk. Annie is surprised at how knowledgeable he seems about her family–he even knows about Aunt Fanny.

 

When “Timothy” admits that Heaven once got lost in the maze, he ends up telling Annie the story, except of course adding that both he and Troy were in the cottage. When Annie sees the cottage, she realizes it is just like the replica her mother gave her. “Timothy” invites her inside. He acts strangely but more in a dazed way than a creepy Tony way.

 

They continue talking and “Timothy” gets excited when Annie confides that she stood the other day even though Tony and her doctor forbade her from doing so again. She also tells him about Luke and how she wheeled herself downstairs to call him because he hasn’t been getting her messages. She explains their relationship as basically as she can without revealing too much but “Timothy” can tell she must care about him a lot. Transparent like I said.

He becomes troubled when he learns that Annie mostly dyed her hair because Tony talked her into doing it. He asks about Tony and she tells him how strange he has been acting. When she confesses she isn’t happy at Farthy, “Timothy” tells her she should leave then.

Annie doesn’t seem to be buying his identity and asks him again who he is. He makes her promise not to tell anyone before he tells the truth–that he is Troy Tatterton. Annie doesn’t seem all that surprised and feels she had known all along.

 

Troy than explains how he survived his accident, leaving out all the parts with her mother. After he is finished, he urges Annie to walk. She walks into his arms and she notices that he looks like a proud father watching his daughter take her first steps. There’s definitely some irony in here.

He takes her back to the main building, pushing her up the ramp. On the way he lends her a sweater because she seems chilly. Good old helpful Troy. She kisses his cheek before she goes inside. She is on her way toward the elevator when Parsons, another handyman, and Tony enter the room and spot her. Tony is furious with her, demanding to know where she was.

 

She tells him that she was outside and that she took her first steps but Tony won’t hear of it. He insists she needs to be in bed, needs to take baths and have massages. He tells her that her progress will be ruined and orders Parsons to carry her upstairs.

 

As Annie is getting herself into bed, Tony comes in after her and compares her stubbornness to her mother’s. Annie snaps at him that her mother is dead and Tony apologizes for being so angry before. Then he sees the sweater and gets angry again, demanding to know who gave it to her. She admits a nice man who lives on the other side of the maze gave it to her and tells Tony that she is tired.

 

She is forced to undress in front of him before he will leave her be. Exhausted from her outing, she falls right asleep. She wakes in the middle of the night hungry. But this time her wheelchair isn’t within reach so she can’t go wandering about. She yells for Tony but he doesn’t come. She drifts back off to sleep and wakes up when she senses movement near her bed.

Tony is there in only a robe, standing there starting at her. He begins to call her Leigh. Annie keeps asking what he is talking about but he doesn’t seem to hear her. Annie babbles about missing dinner, hoping it will snap Tony out of his fantasy but this time it doesn’t work.

Then he unties his bathrobe and lets it drop to the floor.

 

Annie finds that the lower half of her body is numb from fear. She tries to jar Tony’s memory by crying that she is Annie, not Leigh, but his fantasy is too deep to make any difference. He keeps talking to her like it’s a weird kind of foreplay.

“We’ll make love through the night, just as we did before, and if you want, you can call me Daddy.”

 

 

He starts touching her inappropriately. She yells for him to stop, that he is about to do something awful that he will regret forever! Finally he snaps out of it. Annie tells him to get out and leave her alone as he confusedly takes in his surroundings. Finally he seems to realize what he was about to do.

Apologizing, he puts his robe back on and flees. Annie is terrified. Her wheelchair is gone so she can’t get help on her own and isn’t sure anyone else can hear her. Her door is still open, too. She stays up for as long as she can, afraid of his return.

In the morning Tony acts like last night didn’t happen. Annie tells him that she hasn’t forgotten what happened but Tony seems to think she is saying something about a dream. She demands that he brings her wheelchair back. He either pretends or doesn’t hear her as he walks out of the room.

She tries to lower herself to the floor but he returns with her tray and puts her back into bed. He makes her eat and she begins to get sleepy. He’s put a sedative in her food.

When she next wakes, she hears voices outside of her window and soon recognizes it as Luke’s. She gets out of bed and makes it to the window, calling out to him.  Tony is telling Luke that Annie still can’t have visitors. Luke agrees to return the next day.

Tony finds Annie on the floor and returns her into bed, wrapping a blanket tightly around her as well as putting up guard rails on the bed. She yells at Tony for sending Luke away but he is calm, not letting her words affect him at all.

She wakes up later to the sound of voices nearby and shortly her door opens. Aunt Fanny and Luke step inside. Fanny remarks that Annie looks like she is in a crib before noting her new hair color.

Luke rushes over to her and Annie pleads with him to take her home. Tony comes in screaming about how sick Annie is. Annie tells her aunt and Luke that Tony is the one who is keeping her sick by putting stuff in her food. Fanny mentions that a man called her to come get Annie earlier. Annie realizes that she must mean Troy.

Tony begins to guilt trip Fanny, telling her that if she takes Annie that she might relapse. He goes to call the doctor while Fanny helps Annie pack. Luke and Annie begin to talk about why he has taken so long to see her. It is revealed that Tony never sent her letters. Big surprise there.

Fanny sends Luke out to the car while she helps Annie dress for the trip home. After, Fanny and Luke watch Annie use the elevator chair to get herself downstairs. Luke reveals that he is quitting summer school so he can be there for her. Rye Whiskey comes out of the kitchen to say goodbye.

Right as they turn to leave, Tony screams at them and says that the doctor is enraged. Fanny waves Luke on, muttering that Tony is crazy. Tony comes downstairs and tells them that they can’t take Annie because she’s his!

He then reveals that it is part of why Heaven left. He admits that Annie is his real granddaughter, that Heaven was his real daughter. Fanny doesn’t seem too shocked because spoiler, she knows already.

Annie puts two and two together, realizing that his fantasy with Leigh last night had been real. Tony apologizes for that, saying he was confused. Annie asks if he got confused with her mother too, and if that was the real reason she left?

Tony doesn’t know what to say to that except that it wasn’t his fault. Annie calls Tony out for all of the things he has done to her and her descendants. Tony tells her that he only did those things because he loves her and that he won’t let her go.

Luke steps forward like the prince he’s always pretended to be and stares Tony down. Tony calls for Annie, then Heaven, as Fanny and Luke wheel Annie outside and to the car. They go drive near the monument before leaving. When Annie sees Troy in the forest, she waves at him.

Next, Annie returns to Winnerow, Tony loses his battle with his madness, and Troy decides to end the secrets once and for all.

VCA Recaps: Gates of Paradise Part 4

Part 1 here.

This recap will cover Chapters 13-16.

Mrs. Broadfield takes charge, setting a firm schedule for Annie to follow every morning. It includes physical therapy, meals, and baths.

Annie is surprised to learn that Millie has been let go. When she asks Tony about it, he says that she was incompetent. Next she asks him about Luke’s letter and Tony acts like he has no idea what she is talking about.

During physical therapy, Annie begins to feel pain in her legs but Mrs. Broadfield dismisses her claims, sure they are just phantom pains. Annie suffers in silence.

One of the handy men named Parsons comes into her room later to set up her TV. Annie asks him random questions, most of them related to his duties at Farthy.

Later Annie sees Tony approach her parent’s monument. The man from before joins him but is gone so soon that Annie begins to wonder if he is a ghost that only she can see.

When she asks Tony about the man, he says it was one of the grounds people but since none of them match the description Annie gave Rye, she doesn’t believe him. To distract her, Tony suggests a tour of the place.

He takes her immediately to her parents old suite and she is shocked at how well kept it is…almost as if her parents were still living in it.

Tony admits that he has been keeping it as new as he can. Annie doesn’t understand his reasoning behind it but he claims it keeps the past alive for him.

“Don’t you see, by doing all of this”—he extended his arms—“I’ve kept Heaven as she was to me . . . always. I’ve cheated Fate.” He laughed a thin, hollow laugh. “That, my dear, is the true power of great wealth.”

More like crazy illusions but whatever…

Annie notices a hairbrush with blond hair still in it and Tony gets sentimental about Heaven’s dyed hair. Annie looks around at more of the personal items and asks Tony why her mother would leave these things.

He doesn’t seem to hear her and later apologizes, saying he thought he saw her as Heaven in her nightgown, brushing her hair and preparing for bed.

Annie finds the act of him watching her mother getting ready for bed odd. When she pursues her question, he finally says that Heaven had doubles of everything back at Winnerow so she didn’t feel the need to take what she had here. Right.

Annie asks Tony if he will tell her why her mother left now. Tony finally admits defeat and says that he might as well confess there as its fitting to do so in her room.

To explain everything, Tony has to go back to the beginning. He explains his complicated marriage with the vain Jillian and how lonely he felt when his brother passed away.

Tony tells her how Heaven broke his heart when she returned to Winnerow to teach. When he learned that she was going to marry Logan, he panicked, sure that she would remain there and end up forgiving her father, Luke Casteel.

Tony admits how he called Logan and began to build his future, and how he and Heaven permitted him to hold their wedding reception at Farthy.

Annie asks Tony point blank why any of this would cause her mother to hate him. He then tells her of how he knew Luke had always wanted a circus and how he had acquired and sold one to him for a dollar and the agreement that he would cut all future ties with Heaven.

Annie is sickened by the deal but realizes that Luke had agreed to it so he was no better than Tony. Tony continues on how Heaven figured it out after Luke and Stacie died. He goes on sadly about how empty his life was after that.

What kept him alive was learning about Heaven and Logan’s life in Winnerow. Annie feels sorry for him when she sees the tears in his eyes. He pleads with her to give him the chance to make things right by helping her.

Annie tells him that she wants to go back to her room so she can think. Tony says he doesn’t blame her for hating him. Annie clears up that she doesn’t hate him but that she understands why her mother was so angry. She also points out that Luke had died before she and him even had a chance to reconcile.

When she gets back to her room, she is tired and doesn’t want to do her physical therapy but Mrs. Broadfield insists.

“You don’t want your legs to rot and fall off do you?” she asked, smiling again, this time like some wicked witch.

Annie tells her that she can feel her fingers on her legs without pain. When Mrs. Broadfield keeps massaging near her buttocks, she finally asks if it is “enough yet?” and the nurse acts like Annie just slapped her.

Drake comes after for a list of things Annie wants brought back from home. Finally he sees something is wrong and asks Annie if she’s OK.

She tells him all about what Tony has just told her. Drake is clearly effected and while he admits he doesn’t remember his parents too well since he was five, he does remember a fire truck that Heaven sent him.

He remembers how his dad would ask him if he knew who sent it to him, showing that maybe Luke did care somewhat for Heaven after all. Drake suggests that they forgive Tony and that Heaven would understand.

Annie gets to thinking about Luke with his new girlfriend and then has a nightmare about Logan. When she wakes up screaming, Tony of course is there to comfort her.

Later on she wakes up in the middle of the night to see someone come over and kiss her forehead. Whoever this is doesn’t make her afraid. Spoiler: It’s Troy.

In the morning Annie wakes to the doctor asking her questions. They talk about her progress and recuperation. Annie also asks Tony if she can go to the monument soon for a service and he agrees with the doctor’s blessing.

Tony also promises to get in touch with Luke but claims he can’t get a hold of him. He distracts Annie from the subject by picking out a black dress of Heaven’s for her to wear to see the monument the next day. He tells her about how her mother wore this at a funeral once and how it dazzled everyone.

Tony tells her that if she dyed her hair silvery blonde, she would look just like her grandmother. As if to prove it, he shows her a picture. Then he tries to talk her into dying it.

Annie is baffled at the request and says maybe after the service. Tony is disappointed but calls Mrs. Broadfield in to help Annie try on the black dress. When Tony comes in to look at her, he has a strange smile on his face.

Meanwhile Annie is upset because she can now see how awful and stringy her hair really looks. This must have been Tony’s reasoning for her to try on the dress now—for her to see how bad her hair looked.

He continues to coax her into seeing a hairdresser. When he mentions what Luke will think, that seals the deal. Annie is so transparent. When he is gone, she looks at two pictures he has brought of her grandmother and mother, both of them with blonde hair with similar silly poses in the horse stables.

Mrs. Broadfield seems irritated about having to dress Annie for no reason and takes it out on her with a scalding bath. Annie is sure that she sees her toe move but as usual, her nurse dismisses her claim when she fails to repeat the action.

Annie finds herself laying naked on the bed when Tony comes in. He apologizes before leaving and Annie gets annoyed with Mrs. Broadfield for not closing the door.

Tony shortly returns with Renee’, a french hairdresser. He finally gets Annie to dye her hair the color Tony wants. Annie is pleased because it reminds her of the pictures of her mother when she first came here.

She later imagines Luke’s reaction to her hair and it’s so cheesy. Drake stops by and recounts of how everyone is back home. Aunt Fanny has apparently changed a lot since Heaven and Logan died. Drake found her out in the gazebo reading.

Drake expresses outrage over Luke not calling yet and Annie pleads with him to try harder to reach out to him. She begins to wonder if maybe Drake is right and that Luke has already moved on with his life without her.

In the morning Tony has a surprise for Annie—he has installed an elevator chair on the stairs so she can learn to get around the house. After Tony insists she do it herself, she gets to the bottom and Drake comes out clapping at her success.

Annie gets upset when she learns that Luke isn’t coming and she can’t understand why he wouldn’t at least come to a service for his own father. Annie is ferried as close to the monument as possible in the limo.

Then she is carried to the monument where they are also joined by the servants and a priest. Annie imagines that her parents are speaking to her during the service. She breaks down at the end. Tony and Drake quickly get her back to her room but not before she spots the tall thin man near the woods.

 

After a sedative knocks her out, Annie wakes up in the dark alone. She calls for someone but is only met with silence. She’s hungry so she manages to get out of bed and into her chair.

She ends up rolling herself into the first room she sees, which is Jillian’s old suite. It has been kept up just like her parent’s rooms. Mrs. Broadfield finds her and is furious. She goes on about how spoiled Annie is when she has her back in her room.

They argue before Mrs. Broadfield heads downstairs to see if a meal has been made for Annie. In the meantime, Annie writes a desperate letter to Luke, acknowledging how confused she is by his absence. She tells him that she wants to see him soon.

Mrs. Broadfield returns with food that Annie finds bland. When she complains, her nurse says that Rye has been using too many “exotic spices” in her food. Annie refuses to eat it unless Rye prepares it his way.

I do admit that Annie is definitely being spoiled here. Tony comes in after Mrs. Broadfield goes to see about the new food. Annie gives Tony the letter for Luke and he puts it in the pocket of his suit jacket.

Annie then asks him if another woman is living here and admits to going into a woman’s suite that looked like someone was living in it. Tony explains that it was Jillian’s suite.

He leaves and Mrs. Broadfield returns with a tasty meal made by Rye. She watches as Annie gobbles it down. After she takes the tray back, Annie begins to get painful cramps. She calls for Mrs. Broadfield but she either can’t hear her or doesn’t care.

By the time Mrs. Broadfield returns, Annie is slumped in her chair. She has soiled herself. Mrs. Broadfield is smiling coldly and says that she’d told Annie so.

So even though Annie was being a brat about the food, lacing it with a laxative is so wrong! Mrs. Broadfield is one sadistic woman.

Next, Annie realizes what Mrs. Broadfield has done and confronts Tony about it.

 

VCA Recaps: Gates of Paradise Part 3

Part 1 here.

This recap will cover Chapters 9-12.

Annie wakes up and her doctor tells her that she has emotional and psychological injuries as well as the physical ones. He advises her that she needs peace and quiet, which means no visitors or phone calls.

Of course Annie protests that she hasn’t had many visitors but the doctor is quick to tell her that the number doesn’t matter, the stress does. Annie agrees to follow his orders, though.

A stricken Tony comes in and is assured by the doctor that Annie is fine now.  Annie is worried that Luke will blame himself and Tony offers to send him a telegram wishing him good luck on his graduation speech.

The next day Tony recites how the graduation went, as described by Luke. He also breaks the news that the doctor has signed Annie’s release papers so they will head to Farthy in the morning.

OK, is it me or is it weird that the car accident hasn’t really been discussed? I understand they don’t want to upset Annie, but who was at fault? Drunk ass Logan? The other driver? What happened to the other driver?

 

An hour later, a custom made wheelchair with a pink bow wrapped around it is delivered to Annie’s room. Mrs. Broadfield instructs Annie on how to use it and lets her practice in the room. Exciting stuff.

Morning arrives and Tony brings Annie a dress that once belonged to Heaven for her to wear. Annie feels it is out of style but agrees to wear it. With that, they head out of the hospital and out to the limo where Tony holds her a little longer than necessary before putting her in the car so they can all begin toward Farthinggale Manor.

Tony does some reminiscing about Heaven on the way to Farthy. Annie is surprised at how unkempt the place looks when they arrive. Tony doesn’t seem to notice at all. Annie’s pretending is beginning to make a lot more sense considering she has descended from one of the best pretenders.

Annie has to see the fairy tale mural Jillian created in the living room, though it has faded a lot over the years. Tony tells Annie of how he met and fell in love with Jillian in the same way he told Heaven. You know, those shapely legs of Jillian’s! Annie gets Tony to promise to tell her everything that happened here, including the reason her mother was so angry with him that she never returned. Oh sweetie.

Then they take Annie upstairs to the rooms that used to belong to her mother when she first stayed there. Mrs. Broadfield helps Annie get set up in the bedroom. She tries to talk about how bad the grounds and condition of the building are looking but Mrs. Broadfield doesn’t seem to really care.

After Mrs. Broadfield leaves the room, Annie notices there is no phone and screams. While Mrs. Broadfield has been less than appealing as a person to me, I do share her reaction in Annie’s panic about the phone not being there.


Annie demands for Tony, who tells her it was part of the doctor’s orders and that she can still have visitors. After Tony and her nurse leaves, Annie thinks of how her mother and grandmother must have felt in this room. Very similar almost to how Heaven thought about her mother in this room.

Annie falls asleep and when she wakes, Drake comes to visit. When she tries to bring up Luke, he doesn’t seem to want to talk about him. Finally he admits that he went to see Luke but found him kissing another girl at the time. I’m pretty sure this is a lie meant to break Annie’s trust with Luke—and her heart. Wonder if Tony has been mentoring him?

Even Annie can tell that Tony has Drake wrapped around his finger. Very similar to how Tony did the same thing with Logan. After Drake leaves, Tony visits and behaves strangely, confusing the present with the past again. He mentions repairing the pool so Annie can swim and that she can ride Scuttles soon.

Poor Annie is so confused. After, she is given a hot bath by Mrs. Broadfield, who seems to linger a little too long on massaging parts of Annie’s body. Oooookay. Is everyone in this book a pervert?

After her bath, Annie wheels herself to her window so she can see her parents’ monument. She is surprised when a tall, thin man kneels before it, making her wonder who he is.


Tony later finds Annie asleep in her wheelchair by the window. He wakes her and they get into the subject of pretending. He is creepy again, holding her for too long and whispering Heaven’s name. Annie goes back to sleep and is woken later by her maid, Millie, who brings her dinner.

After dinner, Annie asks if Millie would send the cook, Rye Whiskey, up soon. Mrs. Broadfield comes in and scowls when she sees that he gave Annie a small piece of chocolate cake instead of Jell-o. She seems very distraught about it and takes the cake away.

Soon after, Rye Whiskey arrives with the Jell-o and introduces himself to Annie. He talks about her mother and of course has to mention his ghosts. Especially the one who plays the piano.

When Annie asks about Scuttles, Rye remembers that it is the name of the pony Jillian used to have back in Texas. He tells Annie about Abdulla Bar and how Troy Tatterton rode that horse into the ocean. People here sure do like to talk about Troy’s “suicide.”

Tony comes in and seems amused that Rye has come up. When Rye leaves, he seems upset that he wasn’t the one who sent him. Tony and Annie talk about their families. He also reluctantly tells Annie about Troy.

Before he leaves the room, he tells Annie that he will be installing a television for her tomorrow and that he has made a list of books for her to read. He will also underline some of the better TV programs. Annie seems somewhat offended that Tony thinks she has bad taste.

Later, Annie decides to write a letter to Luke and asks Millie if she would give it to Tony so he can fill out the address and stamp it.

Next, Tony fires Millie, Annie starts to feel pain in her legs, and she also gets a television in her room.

 

VCA Recaps: Gates of Paradise Part 1

Just like in my Fallen Hearts recap, these will be full of SPOILERS so do not continue if you do not want to be spoiled/haven’t read it. Thank you!

Gates of Paradise (Casteel #4) by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)

Stunned by tragedy, desperate and alone, Heaven’s daughter clung to the frailest of dreams!

The car crash that killed Heaven and Logan left Annie Casteel Stonewall orphaned and crippled. Whisked off to Farthinggale Manor by the possessive Tony Tatterton, Annie pines for her lost family, but especially for Luke, her half-brother. Friend of her childhood, her fantasy prince, her loving confidante…without the warm glow of Luke’s love, she is lost in the shadows of despair.

When Annie discovers Troy’s cottage hidden in Farthinggale’s woods, the mystery of her past deepens. And even as she yearns to see Luke again, her hopes and dreams are darkened by the sinister Casteel spell…treacherous, powerful and evil!

This recap will cover Chapters 1–4

Annie Stonewall is introduced and basically gives the short version of the back story of the last three books. It is revealed at Annie is close with her half-brother, Luke Casteel Jr. She even admits that she has feelings for him, even though they both know it’s wrong. Hints of her being Troy’s daughter are given through her need to paint as well as becoming depressed for little reason.


Annie is painting a picture of Luke at Farthinggale Manor, which both of them are obsessed with. Drake, Annie’s uncle (though she admits he is more like her big brother), comes in to tease them about the painting and their obsession with Farthy. He also acts like he is jealous of Luke even though Annie doesn’t ask him to model for her because he can’t sit still long enough.

For whatever reason, Annie and Luke do this weird pretend thing in front of Drake. It’s a way for them to admit their feelings for one another since it’s just pretend. Annie claims to be a princess, Farthy is the castle, and Luke is its prince. Drake then claims to be the villain who locks the princess away, laughing afterward about how they managed to rope him into their pretending.

I was (still am sometimes) very into pretending so I can relate to Annie, but this interaction between her and Luke comes across as super cheesy. After, Drake says that maybe one day he will go visit Farthy, which makes Annie instantly jealous. As she’s ranting about the mystery of her mother refusing to talk much about Farthy, Heaven comes in, seeming upset at hearing her daughter talk about it.

She seems unhappy with Farthy being the subject of Annie’s paintings and urges her to paint the Willies instead. When Annie protests that her work isn’t that good, Heaven objects, hinting that it’s in her blood. Of course Annie thinks she means her grandfather, who whittled wooden animals, but we know Heaven means Troy.


Annie and Luke’s 18th birthday party rolls around. Logan gives Annie a golden locket with his and Heaven’s pictures inside. Heaven gives her the replica of Troy’s cottage and Annie notices that Logan reacts strangely to it. Does he really suspect Annie is Troy’s or just knows what the cottage means to Heaven?

Her parents present her with a Mercedes convertible, which she offers rides to her father, Drake (who is visiting from college), and Luke. After, Heaven gives Annie a diamond necklace and earrings that used to belong to Jillian. She also briefly talks about Jillian’s obsession with vanity and warns Annie against being so close to Luke. You’d think Heaven would tell Annie the truth now but I guess she has changed her mind or plans to do it later.

After giving Luke a ride in the car, the two of them meet in the gazebo they have claimed as their special place to exchange gifts–an oynx and gold pinky ring for Luke, and a bronzed picture of Farthy for Annie.

Annie later shows Drake the picture and he is skeptical because it doesn’t match up with the memory he had of it at the old age of five. A few weeks later, Annie receives a letter from Drake in which he tells her about reaching out to Tony Tatterton and visiting Farthy for himself. Apparently it has become a lot more run down despite Tony being a multimillionaire.

The letter upsets Annie and when Luke calls, he can tell something is wrong so she tells him about it. When she frets over the real thing not being like they imagined, Luke tells her it doesn’t matter because their dreams are important. He also vows to always be near whenever she needs him.

A few days later, Drake calls to make sure Annie got his letter and tells her more about Farthy, Tony Tatterton, and seeing Heaven’s old room, mentioning that Tony confused him by talking about Leigh as well. Annie is envious and whines about how she will never see it but Drake assures her that through him, she will. Fanny is planning a huge birthday party, which Drake is sad to miss. He seems to find her entertaining.


Annie notices that Luke seems troubled about something at school later on and asks him to walk her home. After thinking of how unfair it is that people continue to look down on the Casteels, especially one as great as Luke, Annie demands that Luke tells her what is wrong.

Once they are at Annie’s house, which she constantly refers to as the “Hasbrouck House” (seems a bit odd to do but I guess they all do this?), Luke tells her the trouble. Apparently he applied to Harvard (he IS the valedictorian after all) and got in but Fanny found the letter first and left the pieces for him to find all over his room.

Fanny seems to think Luke is deserting her and still holds a grudge against her richer/more educated family members, such as Keith and Jane, and also resents that she was never invited to Farthy. Annie comforts him and they talk about their future. Annie plans to go to an art school in Europe. She teases Luke about how he’ll find someone at Harvard. He remarks that the girl will have to be really amazing and looks at Annie in a way that makes her blush.
 I mean, I know the truth but still.


Later, Annie has a brief fantasy of what it would be like to have met Luke in Boston as an unrelated stranger. Afterward Annie becomes melancholy and begins to sob. Heaven hears her and comes in for a talk. They discuss Annie’s future, Heaven’s promise to tell Annie her secrets one day, and Fanny. Heaven is delighted when Annie tells her that Luke has been accepted to Harvard and assures her that Fanny will come around.

The night of Fanny’s party arrives and despite it looking like a perfect night, the Stonewall’s cook, Roland Starr, predicts bad weather later on. Fanny makes a scene with Logan right away as she gets him to dance with her as lewdly as she can manage.


Heaven is pissed but remains quiet as she watches them. She is cold to Logan when he is able to get away after Luke cuts in to dance with his mother. Logan has already had something to drink and continues to have more. The atmosphere at this party is tense for Heaven, Annie, and Luke.

Fanny makes a speech about being 40 and looking 20 on her birthday before there is an argument between two men at the beer keg. Heaven has had enough and asks Logan to take them home. He has had too much to drink but assures Heaven that he can drive.


It begins to rain as Heaven and Logan fight about what happened at the party. Heaven warns Logan to keep his eyes on the road and to be careful. On a curve, another car heads their way and is too far into their lane. Heaven screams and Logan calls out Annie’s name as they crash.


I don’t feel as connected to Heaven in this one as I did in the past ones so I’m not as devastated as I would have been had she died in Dark Angel but it’s still sad. Fucking Logan Stonewall. Until now, this book has been a bit boring. I can definitely tell the ghostwriter is doing this one. Maybe VCA was dramatic and a fan of purple prose, but she knew how to hook a reader! I feel lukewarm about this book so far.


Next, Annie wakes up to life without her parents or the use of her legs.

Just saying, Logan. I know the other car wasn’t completely in its lane but you were still drunk driving in the rain and trying to argue with your wife because you were being an idiot. Good going.