Book One: TESS. From the wild decadence of late nineteenth-century Newport comes the tale of Tess Moran, a beautiful Irish housemaid in one of the grand summer "cottages," who makes a dark bargain with a man of commanding wealth—and falls in love in the bargain.
Born into service in Ireland, Tess and her siblings have been hauled off to America by her restless father who is convinced that riches lie all around, ready for the taking. There are riches, all right, but they remain in the hands of a precious few families in New York whose main purpose in life is to elevate themselves above their peers. Newport is the summer battleground where the competition is played out in marble mansions staffed by dozens and stuffed with silver, all transported from New York to Newport for a season that barely lasts seven weeks.
Downstairs, the struggle to advance is just as fierce as it is upstairs. The scullery maid longs to be a laundry maid, the laundry maid is desperate to be a lady's maid. Tess, however, wants none of it. She knows her own worth; knows she can be a success running an enterprise of her own and profiting enough by it to bring her entire family out of servitude.
It's a noble goal, but the path to it will be marked by more than one twist and turn.
"A quality book. Antoinette Stockenberg has done her homework. The saga ... contains many of those little epiphanies, those moments of recognition. It is what makes, for example, Book One stand out from the rash of novels on class conflicts between Irish servants and their Yankee masters."
"The action moves along at a speed that makes it virtually impossible to put the book down. If I had had the time I could have read it non-stop, and I nearly did .... Here is a book to satisfy every sort of reader--those who crave fast action, Newport aficionados, and the romantics among us who love happy endings."
--Newport This Week Magazine
"A riveting saga/mystery. Ms. Stockenberg is a master of intrigue and romance ... she expertly leads readers through nearly a century of drama in the elegant, fascinating, and thrilling world of yacht racing [culminating in] a compelling mystery. This novel will provide smooth sailing for summer reading."
"Sizzling [and] entertaining reading. The well-researched novel uses real people and places—such as the Vanderbilts and Dennis Conner—as a backdrop to the unfolding drama.