Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
As I have never read a YA mystery before I had little to no expectations going into this one which was good because, whilst I enjoyed it as a whole, there were definitely some sticking points for me. Avery Grambs is a nobody, after her mother died she was taken in by her older step-sister and her absolute tool of a boyfriend. Until one day a boy turns up at school, he whisks her away to Hawthorne house where Avery learns that Tobias Hawthorne hasn’t left his billions to his family, he has left it to her. Tensions are high and Avery has no idea why this crazy old man left her his fortune, but the Hawthorne brothers all have an idea. Their grandfather liked puzzles and they think Avery is their final one, but when Avery gets dragged into their weird game she gets more than she bargained for. With rumours of a dead girl and Averys own life on the line she needs to decide whether to back out now or continue the game to its inevitable end.
The characters were definitely a strong point in this book. Avery is so relatable, I have no idea how I would act if that much money was left to me by someone I had never met but her initial WTF reaction was pretty on the mark. She gets dragged into the Hawthorne’s family drama and ends up torn between two of the brothers (love triangle haters fear not… its a very small part of the story.) She knows there must be some reason why Tobias chose her, and when Jameson asks for her help to solve the riddle he was left she jumps at the chance, hoping it will somehow explain why she is there. The four Hawthorne brothers are complete opposites; Nash, the eldest (and my fave) is completely not interested in the money; Grayson is the heir apparent, the brother who was supposed to take over the foundation that is now in Avery’s hands; Jameson is a puzzle in himself, he alternates between being drunk and half naked and obsessed with the puzzle that is Avery and Xander, the youngest of the brothers and more interested in polishing off some blueberry scones than following Jameson and Grayson’s leads. We also meet the rest of the Hawthorne family, most of whom see Avery as some kind of leech as well as Avery’s sister, but this story is completely Avery’s and the Hawthorne brothers.
The book was mainly set in Hawthorne House & it’s one of those old fashioned mansions that I would have loved to have grown up in as a child! It’s a house you could get lost in, filled with secret passageways & puzzles to be completed. It, and the grounds, play a large part in the puzzle that is Avery, and why Tobias left this stranger her fortune and I enjoyed traversing the different passageways with Avery and the brothers.
The plot was fun and fast paced, I flew through the book in a matter of hours, but it just lacked any kind of stakes or thrill for me. We know from pretty early on that the will is iron clad, there is no way the Hawthorne family can take the money back. So the main mystery is why Avery? Is she related to them? Did Tobias know her mother? We do find out the answer at the end of the book, but I guessed the main part of it pretty early on, and though the author added a slight twist, I just felt like the ending was anti-climactic. That being said, there a plenty more twists and turns in the book that I didn’t guess AT ALL and there are definitely enough WTF moments to keep us as the reader hooked.
I actually didn’t realise this was a series when I first started it, but after reading the ending I can see where the author is planning to take book two. There are still plenty of unanswered questions and we can see where the characters stories are going. I will definitely pick up book 2, if only to see if the author expands on some of the points raised in this book.