What is the one thing that women know, and know well? You guessed it...shopping! So who better to run a retail empire than a family of women? Strong, determined, confident women, that is. The descendants of Emma Harte could be no less.
Running an empire, however, is no easy job, and while these women love their work and take pride in growing and maintaining the empire begun by their illustrious matriarch, no empire can survive without its share of intrigue and drama. It is this kind of drama that makes the reader want more.
From their first appearance in 1979 in A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE to this sixth (and final) installment in the riveting family saga, I love the Hartes! By now I feel like I know them personally and want to find out what's going on in their lives. That's what JUST REWARDS gives us a chance to do.
Barbara Taylor Bradford drew me in immediately with the story of Emma Harte. Who doesn't love a rags-to-riches story? Who wouldn't love the story of a servant, impregnated by the son of the manor and then abandoned, who climbs one step after another until she's at the top of the heap? Add the beautiful Yorkshire countryside of England and the big city drama of London, and you have quite a novel.
In JUST REWARDS, the main players are the fourth generation Hartes, the great-granddaughters of Emma Harte. Tessa, Linnet, Evan and India are the main players in this installment; they are marrying, giving birth and trying to find that balance as most women do today between family and career.
As much happiness as there is in the lives of these four women, all is not smooth. An ugly specter from the past rears his head in the form of Jonathan Ainsley, Emma's grandson and uncle to the girls. While family and tradition may be the main theme for most members of the Harte family, revenge is the only thing with which Jonathan is concerned.
As is the case in so many books, the question here is whether good will triumph over evil and what damage might be done in the meantime if and before the good guys win.
Bradford gives us what so many authors don't these days: a sense of family, a sense of tradition, and a glimpse into the life of the rich and famous.
Fans of Bradford will be delighted to reacquaint themselves with tried-and-true favorites from her previous novels. But even a reader new to the Hartes will enjoy this book as the author gives us enough history to acquaint us with the past but in a style that never bores.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 22, 2011