Book Review: A DIVIDED INHERITANCE by Deborah Swift

Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Released: October 23, 2013 (UK)
Source: Review copy from publisher for participating in the author’s book tour.

A family divided by fortune. A country divided by faith.

London 1609…

Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.

Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary – determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .

A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.


A DIVIDED INHERITANCE is the first novel by Deborah Swift I’ve read, and I was impressed by the rich historical details. This book paints a vivid picture of the beauty and turbulence of 17th century Spain.

The story begins in London with Elspet Leviston working with her father in his lace business, fully believing she will inherit it someday. Suddenly a man named Zachary Deane appears at their door, and Mr. Leviston introduces him as her cousin. Soon Elspet is pushed aside and told to concentrate on “womanly pursuits” while Zachary is taught the lace business. Of course, she’s furious, and rightfully so.

The mysterious Zachary turns out to be an immature trouble-maker, and Elspet knows there’s something from his past he’s hiding. Before she can find out, Mr. Leviston sends Zachary on a “grand tour” of Europe in hopes that it will educate him and turn him into a proper gentleman. Unfortunately Elspet’s father dies soon after he departs, and she’s shocked to discover Zachary has inherited half of the lace business. Since she can’t do anything without Zachary’s approval, she sets off to find him, finally tracking him down in Seville, Spain. He’d abandoned his grand tour to take fencing lessons from a master swordsman while poor Elspet suffered. Luckily she was strong and determined, and willing to fight for what was hers.

A big part of this book focused on the horrific treatment of the Moors by the Spanish king. While Catholics in England were being oppressed, Muslims were the victims of religious persecution in Spain. For me, this was an eye-opening read.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, and at times Elspet and Zachary’s story got lost in the shuffle. Still, I was thrilled at the outcome of their inheritance squabble, and I was pleased at how Zachary’s character evolved over time.

A DIVIDED INHERITANCE is sure to please fans of well-researched, detailed historical fiction. And, maybe, just maybe, there’s an opening for a sequel?

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the book tour company in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park.  She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.

For more information, please visit Deborah’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.