Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
During the French and Indian War it was common practice that captured French officers be billeted with American families; a practice oftentimes as undesirable for prisoners as the families whose homes they occupy. The Wilde household at Bellewether in Long Island is volunteered by a repugnant relation to house two French officers until a prisoner exchange can be arranged. One is a bilingual French captain who quite obviously came from the upper class. The other, Jean-Philippe de Sabran, is a French Canadian lieutenant who learned the art of warfare among the native peoples of Canada. Jean-Philippe cannot communicate well with the English speaking family but he does his best to be useful around the home and farm, knowing that his imprisonment is as hard on the family as on him, but he can’t help notice Lydia, the young woman of the house, even as he knows he should not.
Charley has accepted the position as the museum curator of Bellewether in the present day. She is dealing with her grief over the death of her brother and has moved into his house to comfort and care for his college-aged daughter in her grief as well; the position at Bellewether is perfect. She has family ties to the area and is intrigued by her own history as well as the history of the house. Rumor has it that there is a ghost of a French soldier who haunts the grounds and Charley is determined to get to the truth in the legend.
Fans of the past meets present style of narrative will enjoy watching the two storylines converge. There isn’t a chance of being lost between the time periods since they are each very distinctive. I was most interested in the house itself and the clues in the present day that helped Charley reconstruct the story of the past. There were a few supernatural touches that I think the narrative could have done without however overall this is an enjoyable historical (and contemporary!) romance.