Nettle Rose, the grand house, surrounded by lush landscaping and expansive gardens, was magnificent, tucked away at the end of a long driveway. The cherry floors were from the trees on the one-hundred-acre estate. An abundance of dazzling crystal chandeliers hung throughout the house. Almost a century later, the house showed signs of neglect. The iron gate is locked with a big rusty padlock, and the weathered hanging sign is no longer readable. A trellis of roses climbs the walls of the stone posts.
The door opens, Tess McKinnon walks through the large rooms furnished with antiques and elegant furniture. She had inherited the grand estate, but it would take money to keep it. An unseen force draws her to the historic mansion that holds priceless memories where ghosts of her childhood still roam the corridors. Tess has lost all hope of keeping the estate until she uncovers an old Thunderbird in the garage worth three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Sawyer shares Tess’s passion for bringing Nettle Rose back to life. Tess, a schoolteacher, falls in love with Sawyer, a horse whisperer. When Tess wants to give a dinner party at Nettle Rose, and meet Sawyer’s family, he reveals that he is the bastard child of Judge Daniel Stratford, the most powerful man in Brier Hill County. His Mennonite grandmother, who had raised him, had passed away two years ago, and his mother had died when he was six years old. When Sawyer confessed that he’d been a member of the Amish Outlaws—Tess wasn’t deterred. She’d thought he’d cut off a few beards.
Nettle Rose came alive the night of the dinner party.The old grandfather clock that hadn’t worked for decades began to chime—and the smell of lilacs wafted throughout the house. Tess wins over Judge and his wife, Marguerite, but Sawyer’s step-sister, Stephanie, is cold to her. Tess is befuddled when Stephanie’s estranged husband, Richard Cooper, corners her in the pantry and tells her there are secrets in the family. Richard was taken with Tess from the first moment he laid eyes on her. As the evening progresses —Richard becomes more amorous. In a dark hall, he propositions Tess to become his mistress.
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