Although “don’t judge a book by its cover” has been drilled into us from an early age, we do exactly that when we consider a prospective relationship with works of fiction or non. This principle came to the forefront recently in a discussion with my Google advertising account representative as I considered an ad campaign with the legendary search engine giant. I was lamenting my inability to come up with snappy key words to make my proposed ad highly visible to Google searchers when he assured me he could fill that gap without a problem. But, he asked, what about your book’s cover? And we both agreed without a great cover all the clever key words in his arsenal would not sell books.
For me, a great cover features the title and author’s name in a legible but interesting font, and displays an image that hints at the book’s topic. The image is very important for me because I often focus there first before my eye travels to the title and the author’s name.
As a first-time author, I was anxious about finding an artist to create a great cover for Dance For A Dead Princess. But I was very fortunate. I found Judy Bullard on a Smashwords list of cover artists and loved the professional quality of her work.
Based upon a short summary of the plot and information about the real world images that inspired the book’s setting, Judy came up with a terrific cover on the first try. I was delighted and amazed. Her color scheme of lighter clouds against a darkening sky perfectly conveys the mystery-thriller component of the plot. She placed Nicholas, the hero, and Taylor, the heroine, on opposite sides with Burnham Abbey and Princess Diana’s tiara in the center between them, showing the reader the dramatic themes that place them in opposing camps throughout much of the story. I also loved the way the script she used for the title picks up the dainty swirls in Diana’s crown, just above it. Finally, her attention to detail was impressive. She contacted me before sending the proof to make sure she had gotten the color of Nicholas and Taylor’s eyes right!
Thanks to Judy’s work, any reader considering Dance For A Dead Princess knows at once the book is a romantic mystery involving royalty and a centuries-old country house. Then, as soon as the reader scans the first few pages of the Prologue, it becomes clear the royalty is Diana, Princess of Wales, and the country house is Burnham Abbey which Nicholas, the Eighteenth Duke, is determined to destroy until he meets the woman he calls, “that remote star,” Taylor Collins.
In January 1997, Princess Diana 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.
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.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance,Mystery
Rating – G
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Dance for A Dead Princess by Deborah Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What did you think of the story structure? I felt that the story was told through the relationship of Nicholas and Taylor. Were their differences a symbolism of the differences that Charles and Diana experienced during their courtship and marriage? Some parts of the story was revealed in chunks. For this story, it was an effective way to share the past with the reader.
What was the central theme of the story? Princess Diana. I have seen and read many things about her life and death but this is the fictional piece which deserves to be recommended. If you don't mind an odd twist or so, then this is a book you must read.
What did you think of the ending? It was an explosive ending, for sure. The author's tone and style is gentle for most of the book. As it gets to the end, a different puzzle emerges and you are left reeling. Did I like this book? More than I can say.
Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.
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