Title: The Debutante
Author: Kathleen Tessaro
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Avon A
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cate Albion is running from something, and she can’t think of a better place to do that than with her aunt. She takes refuge at her aunt’s shop and ends up traveling with Jack, an antiques appraiser who works with her aunt, to Endsleigh House, whose contents are to be auctioned. Endsleigh was the home of the Blythe sisters, famous debutantes during the inter-war years, at least until the younger sister (nicknamed “Baby”) disappeared without a trace. Inside the house, Cate finds a mysterious box filled with strange items and begins to trace the course of Baby Blythe’s life in order to understand what went wrong and figure out what happened to her.
The Debutante is an interesting look at two different women. Cate is fragile, wounded by the experiences she is running from. She is shaky, learning to stand on her own two feet and is in constant fear that her past will catch up with her. In order to take her mind off of her predicament, she throws herself into the search for answers about Baby Blythe’s disappearance.
What Cate doesn’t expect, though, is that researching Baby Blythe’s life will give her insights into her own. As the novel progresses, we see Cate growing and changing, coming to terms with what she’s done and where she wants her life to go from here. It’s gratifying to watch her grow and change, yet suspenseful because the reader doesn’t fully know what happened to Cate and what she’s been through until well through the novel. Along with the mystery of Baby Blythe, it really keeps the novel interesting.
The main romance of the novel, between Jack and Cate, is set up from the very first page. Both of them were damaged, so it made sense that Tessaro would try to pair them off. However, it didn’t work as well for me. That entire plot read like a romance novel, complete with longing and forbidden desire, and it left me cold. Don’t get me wrong, I think the two characters work together, I just didn’t like the way it was done and how much of the book was devoted to that storyline.
Overall, The Debutante is an enjoyable novel. Tessaro kept me guessing from beginning to end, and because there was a lot going on, the novel held my interest and really was a fun read. I’m now curious about Tessaro’s other works and will make it a point to seek them out.