The Cousins of the Dove is a three book series co-authored by Cindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. Book one MY BROTHER'S CROWN tells a dual tale, the first being that of Hugenot Catherine Gillett in 17th century France. As Henry XIV's ban against non-Catholics becomes more strictly enforced, Catherine and her family struggle to figure out a way to save their printing business and their lives. The second story is that of Renee Talbot, a descendent of Catherine's, and her cousins.
While the cousins are gathered to celebrate the donation to the Smithsonian of the rare Persecution Pamphlet, they cannot deny still being negatively affected by the gruesome discovery they made years earlier in the Dark Woods on their grandmother's estate. Brett Keller is hired to provide security for the document and he and Renee set out to discover the coded message within the pamphlet and to dig out some answers about the Dark Woods mystery.
While I enjoyed both of these stories, I was delighted to find that the second book was even stronger than the first. MY SISTER'S PRAYER begins a few months later as Maddee Talbot (cousin of Renee) takes on the care of her troubled younger sister Nicole, who was injured in a car accident, an accident caused by Nicole's intoxication and drug abuse. While Maddee is sympathetic that Nicole has always been haunted by their night long ago in the Dark Woods, she fears that Nicole will sabotage this current chance to get sober and turn her life around. As their weeks together progress, the two sisters struggle to build trust, especially when Maddee catches Nicole in some lies and then discovers that someone is watching the house. Their grandmother gives them the task of reading a bundle of letters written in 1704 by Celeste Talbot, who secretly left England and traveled to America to wed an English soldier. It is only after she sets sail that she learns that her younger sister has boarded the same ship and is deathly ill. The stories of the two pairs of sisters have strong parallels and those centuries old letters have lessons for both Maddee and Nicole. The Dark Woods mystery thread still runs through this novel; readers learn a bit more about what the girls discovered nine years earlier and how it affected them, but the complete mystery is NOT solved. MY DAUGHTER'S LEGACY, the third and final book, releases this summer and I already have a hold on it through our library system.