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The Heiress

Recap, Summary & Spoilers



The Quick Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

Camden McTavish is the adopted son of Ruby McTavish, a wealthy heiress who was once kidnapped as a 3-year-old. She also had four husbands who all died mysterious deaths. Upon her death, she left Cam all her wealth and the family mansion.

Cam and his wife Jules have been living a simple life, but are beckoned home by his extended family who still live in the mansion, The Ashby House. Cam's estranged extended family don't consider him a true McTavish, and they want him to turn over his inheritance to them. Jules secretly wants Cam to kick out his family and for them to live in luxury in the mansion.

In a series of letters, it's revealed at Ruby murdered all of her husbands for varying reasons and that she's actually Dora Darnell, a poor girl that her father purchased from Dora's parents when the real Ruby McTavish went missing. Cam's cousin Ben presents him with this evidence, but Cam tells them that it's meaningless since the money was left to Ruby either way.

Ben then threatens to accuse Cam of killing Ruby by giving her pills. Cam, in frustration, agrees to give up his inheritance. Ben then kills his grandmother, Nelle, since she would've been next in line for the inheritance if Cam gave it up. Jules sees how toxic this family is and understands why Cam wants nothing to do with this place, and she knows she loves him more than she wants this life. Jules accuses Ben of murdering Nelle, and he attacks her. Jules then burns down the house, with Ben and his sister Libby in it, so all the McTavishes are dead.

At the end of the book, Cam and Jules are now living elsewhere. It's revealed that Ruby actually wrote all those letters to Jules, who is actually a Darnell (Caitlin Julianne Darnell) and Dora/Ruby's great niece by blood. Jules reached out to Ruby, and Ruby concocted a plan to set Jules up with Cam in order to "pay back" the Darnells for the pain their family caused them. Ruby passed away before their plan went into action, but Jules happened to meet Cam anyway. It's also revealed that Cam figured out who Jules really was and that it was a setup by Ruby, but he fell for Jules anyway.

As a last revelation, the book hints that Grace, the nanny that had been watching baby Ruby when she went missing, may have abducted her in order to get her away from her toxic family.

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Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

The book opens with a passage about how easily someone can vanish in Appalachia.

It’s followed by a news article about the disappearance of a 3-year-old girl, Ruby Anne McTavish, on Sunday, September 12, 1943. Ruby was the daughter of Mason McTavish of Tavistock, North Carolina, and his wife, Mrs. Anna McTavish (née Miss Anna Ashby). Mr. McTavish is among the wealthiest men in North Carolina.

They were with their nanny having a picnic in the mountains near their home at the time. Ruby was discovered missing at 2:30 PM and a search was conducted that night, but it was complicated by torrential rains

Chapter 1

Jules works at Homestead Park, a living history museum, in Golden, Colorado. She plays “Mrs. Hiram Burch,” a farmer’s wife.

When she gets home, she gazes at her husband of nearly 10 years, Camden, in the kitchen. He also has heterochromia — eyes that are different colors. One is gray-blue and the other is golden brown. No clue where he got it from, because he was adopted. Camden teaches ninth- and eleventh-grade English at an all-boys prep school. They live in a small rental, but they’re happy together.

Today, Camden tells Jules that his family, who he hasn’t been in touch with for over a decade, is beckoning him home.


There’s an excerpt of a news article from April 2, 2013 about Ruby Anne McTavish passing away at the age of 73. The article discusses her kidnapping as a 3-year-old and how she was found eight months later in Spanish Fort, Alabama, thanks to a private investigator the family hired. Her kidnapper, Jimmy Darnell, was killed trying to escape from jail before his trial.

Ruby was married four times in her life, and each husband died in an accident of some sort, other than the third one who died of an illness. Her only child was an adopted boy named Camden. He’s rumored to be the heir to an eight-figure fortune.

Ruby’s other surviving relatives were (in 2013) a sister, Eleanor “Nelle” McTavish(69), a nephew, Howell Franklin McTavish(49), a great-nephew, Benjamin “Ben” Franklin McTavish (23), and a great-niece, Elizabeth “Libby” McTavish (17). (Ben and Libby’s mother, Rebecca, left when Libby was five or six.)


In an e-mail from Ben (BHMcTavish@AshbyLTD.org), Ben discusses his father Howell’s death in a car accident a month ago and some house/will issues that need to dealt with as a result. He acknowledges that he knows Cam doesn’t wish to speak to them, but Ben says they really need to get the will and house dealt with.

A second e-mail from Howell (FightBlueDevils1969@AshbyLTD.org) from before his death, rudely discusses how Ruby’s house is in dire need of repairs and that Camden is the only one with access to the funds to fix these things. He also brings up Ruby’s death and hints that maybe there was foul play involved.

Chapter 2 – Camden

Cam thinks back to Ruby’s death, listed as heart failure, though a pill bottle was found at her bedside. At the time, Cam had requested she be cremated with no autopsy, but since then it’s resulted in whispers that he was trying to cover something up.

After he’d gotten the rude e-mail from Howell six months ago, he’d just ignored it, but Ben’s e-mail prompted a discussion with Jules about whether to oblige his family. Finally, Jules had said that they should just go. After that he put in for leave and Jules quit her job. Now, they’re getting ready to hit the road and head for North Carolina.

Cam knows that Ben’s whole family has been living in Ruby’s 15-bedroom mansion, the Ashby House, with the exception of when Ben and Libby left briefly for college.


In a note dated March 12, 2013 from Ruby, shortly before her death, Ruby says she’s going to fill in some details about her life. In this letter, she discusses the kidnapping. The nanny that was supposed to be watching Ruby the day she was abducted was named Grace Bennett, and Ruby’s mother had later gotten upset when Ruby wanted to name one of her dolls Grace.

Helen Darnell had been insistent that her infant was her own child, Dora Darnell, but her husband Jimmy had admitted to abducting Ruby when he saw her alone in order to replace the child that Helen had been mourning. Shortly after Ruby was recovered, they had another child, Claire.

Ruby and her sister Nelle did not have a great relationship. Nelle liked to insist that Ruby was really Dora, and Ruby lived with the fear that it might actually be true.


In an article dated December 23, 1943, Anna McTavish pleads for the return of her daughter, Ruby, three months after her disappearance.

Chapter 3 – Jules

On the drive there, Jules thinks about how she’d love to live in Ashby House, but Cam’s made clear he wants nothing to do with that house or his family, all of whom always hated him. Jules tries to prod gently at Cam with questions about his family. He mentions that Nelle was born shortly after Ruby was returned, and he wonders if that’s why Nelle was always so unpleasant. Perhaps she always knew she was a replacement for Ruby, but when Ruby was recovered there wasn’t a need for her anymore.

Jules also thinks about something she should really tell Cam before they arrive at their destination.


In a brochure excerpt, it discusses great houses in North Carolina. The Ashby House was built in 1904 by lumber magnate Alexander McTavish. It was originally called The Highlands, but Mason McTavish renamed it in honor of his wife Anna whose maiden name was Ashby. It lists Camden as the current owner.


In a note dated March 14, 2013 from Ruby, she talks about Duke Callahan, her first husband. His father, Edward Callahan, was even wealthier than hers thanks to tobacco money. Duke was his eldest son and heir. They met on Nelle’s sixteenth birthday in 1960. Ruby was visiting from college, where she was a student at Agnes Scott in Atlanta. Ruby had known Nelle was interested in Duke, but didn’t realize how fixated Nelle had been on him that year until after Ruby and he were married.

He was handsome and debonair and 24 when they met. Ruby was 20. They’d flirted the night they met, and Ruby thinks they were both drawn to a certain dark streak each of them had. The note also says that she was the one who later shot him.


A newsletter excerpt from 1961 reports on the marriage of Ruby and Duke on Saturday, April 22. It states that the couple will settle in Duke’s hometown of Ashville after they take an extended European honeymoon to Paris, Nice, the Loire Valley, Rome, Milan, and finally London.

Chapter 4 – Camden

As they pull up to the gates of the estate, Camden thinks about his childhood. He remembers a magazine profile Rudy did when he was twelve. They took a picture of him for the article and the caption they used was “Camden Andrew McTavish: The Luckiest Boy in North Carolina”. Camden thinks about how he could understand why people might think that if they didn’t know Ruby.

At the gate, he types in the gate code, 13–6–61, which is the day Ruby’s first husband, Duke, died. Camden thinks about how there’s a section of the wrought iron fence that fell down years ago and was never fixed so anyone could get in. Then, they pull in past the gate.

Chapter 5 – Jules

Jules was 21 when she met Cam, and he was the first man she’d ever loved. Driving up to Ashby House, Jules falls in love with it when she sees it, though she can tell how tense Cam is.

They pull up to the house, and Libby soon shows up. She immediately chastises Cam for closing the front gate. Jules thinks about how she has actually been secretly following Libby’s Instagram account for years, since the time she and Cam were dating. But she knows he wouldn’t like that, nor would he like the answers to questions that he might inevitably have if he found out.

Cam introduces Libby to Jules, and Libby heads off inside without them.

Chapter 6 – Camden

Entering the house, they’re greeted by the huge portrait of Ruby that hangs at the entrance, painted by Andrew’s third husband. At ten years, it was her longest marriage, and Cam’s middle name is Andrew.

They’re quickly intercepted by Ben, who greets them warmly. Cam thinks about how Jules must notice how he and Ben look like they could be related even though he’s adopted. Ben makes small talk and then excuses himself to do some work. Cam asks what he does, and Ben says he’s a lawyer, doing work with wills and estates. Ben also mentions that Nelle is not feeling well, so she’s unlikely to greet them today.


In another note dated March 14, 2013 from Ruby, she discusses the murder of her husband Duke during their honeymoon in Paris. After they were married, Ruby was blissfully happy for the first few days of their marriage. Then, on day five, while they were on a ship headed for Paris, Duke had gone to gamble in the ship’s casino. He returned hours later, drunk. When she got mad at him for returning hours later than he’d promised and gambling with the money her father gave to them as a wedding gift, he punched her. But he was sorry and she forgave him.

Then, in Paris, they were staying at his father’s pied-à-terre, just off the Champs-Élysées. The days were glorious, but at night Duke would drink and get violent. She loved him and hoped it would stop. By June 13, 1961, they’d been in Paris for over a month. She went to bed early, but Duke dragged her out when he returned drunk with a rifle he’d won that night. He playfully threatens her with it. She feared for her life, but didn’t think he’d shoot her. Still, when he turned around, she grabbed the gun and shot him in the chest. Three times.

The story that ends up being told is that Duke had been out at a seedier establishment and someone must’ve followed him home with the intent to rob him.


An excerpt from a scholarship guide lists a scholarship Ruby established in Duke’s honor, noting the importance of kindness to others.

Chapter 7 – Jules

Jules notes that, oddly, Cam’s childhood bedroom looks more like a guest bedroom than the room of a teenage boy. The food in the house is prepared by Cecilia, the housekeeper, who soon comes to greet Julia warmly. Afterwards, Nelle introduces herself to Julia, glaring coldly at her. She gripes bitterly about the fact that Cam and Julia own the house instead of her, just because she happened to be born after Ruby.

Ben soon shows up, and Cam goes off with him to inspect the things that need to be repaired in the house. Jules sees that their belongings have been moved to another room, one that’s draped in a sea of red everything, and Cam tells her it’s because he didn’t want to sleep in his childhood bedroom.

Jules thinks about how she’s determined to get Cam’s relatives out of there and for her and Cam to move in to this house. As much as she likes their life in Colorado, she doesn’t feel like they’ve ever fully settled in. She’s determined to have this house and this life.

Chapter 8 – Camden

Ben and Cam are headed to down the mountain into Tavistock to pick up some supplies. Cam intends to fix some stuff by hand, though he could certainly afford to hire others to do it. Ben tries to be friendly, but can’t help but mention all the money Cam inherited.

In town, Cam sees a few businesses have been shuttered. Cam technically towns a decent chunk of the town, though Ruby sold part of it to Nelle. Ben explains that they raised the rents and people retired.

At the hardware store, the owner, Steve Henderson, is friendly towards Cam. Ruby had been beloved in this town due to her generosity towards it. There’s a Missing Persons flyer, and Ben casually explains that some hikers (“dumbasses”) went missing over the summer when they tried to hike the trail on the east side of the mountain, Mount Trossach, that Ashby House is situated on. Steve stiffly remarks that one of the missing hikers was his cousin’s son. When Ben walks out, Steve warns Cam to sleep with one eye open at that house.


In a letter dated 6/28/2004, Camden writes to Ruby from Camp Lumbee. He talks about how it’s awkward Ruby never mentioned to him how much of the town their family owns. He also says that he’s learned more about Ruby’s husbands and their deaths and wants to ask her about it. Finally, he asks her to stop sending him money to spend at the canteen, since all their balances are listed and he has $500 while everyone else has like $20.


In a note dated March 20, 2013 from Ruby, she discusses her second husband, Hugh Woodward, who she was married to for three years. For the next year after Duke’s death, Ruby spent it in a haze of pills. Eventually, she starts taking an interest in the family businesses and starts making investments with the settlement that her father negotiated with Duke’s father. Her investments paid off, and she bought more of the town. It helped to get her mind off Duke’s death.

Hugh was 25 years older than her, an accountant and her father’s right-hand man. One day, Ruby goes to Hugh with a question and she can tell he’s interested in her. By now, Nelle is married to Alan Franklin, and she has a baby, Howell. Ruby’s father is delighted to finally have a McTavish heir, and Ruby starts to worry that she’s disposable to her father now. Seeing how much her father relies on Hugh, Ruby takes an interest in him. They soon marry.

Ruby is instantly miserable. Hugh, while not a bad man, is needy and a little controlling. She wanted to leave him. While divorce was technically an option, there was the problem of money to consider and how much wrangling Hugh would do to make things difficult if she were to leave him. She also knew her father would disapprove of a divorce from Hugh, and he said as much when she brought up the possibility once.

Instead, Ruby came up with a plan. It involved the barn on their property that she knew had dodgy wiring. The situation was less dire than Duke, she wasn’t going to outright shoot him, but she started telling Hugh about how nice it would be to have lights strung in there. Hugh was electrocuted, but Ruby maintains she didn’t really kill him.


An excerpt from a hiking guide mentions a great Instagram-able location in Tavistock, which is a lit up gazebo that Ruby built and dedicated to Hugh in his honor.

Chapter 9 – Jules

Cam is busy working on repairs to the house. Ben suggests that he take Jules out for a tour of the land. Jules thinks to herself that she might as well take a look since she technically owns it, and she agrees. Jules and Ben start walking on a messy trail, and Ben explains that Ruby had these trails made and maintained, but Cam’s money should be taking care of it now. Jules notices that she has poor reception.

Finally, Ben grabs Jules and tells her that he’s done his part to get Cam here, and he demands to know when Jules is going to fulfill her part of their agreement.


In another note dated March 24, 2013 from Ruby, she tells Cam about her third husband, Andrew Miller, who she married for love. After the deaths of two husbands, Ruby starts getting that old feeling again that there’s something wrong with her and that she’s from a tainted bloodline. She worries that she really is actually Dora and not a McTavish at all. People seem to look at her differently, too, knowing her track record with her husbands.

Once her father dies, she decides to travel. She gets an invitation from a college friend, Betty-Ruth, to visit the Scottish Highlands, at the medieval fortress her husband, Sir Hamish Ogilvy, owned. Andrew Miller was a well-known painter that Hamish knew and was coming to stay.

Unlike her interest in Duke which was immediate, Ruby’s interest in Andrew built up slowly over dinners and morning walks. Eventually, he offered to paint her portrait. Soon, they married.


In an excerpt of an interview with Andrew Miller from 1976, he discusses his life with Ruby. He says he never imagined being married to an heiress, but that he fully came alive when he met her.

Chapter 10 – Camden

Cam can tell how much Jules loves it here, but he knows he can’t stay. Cam thinks about how Ruby had him a weapon to wield against the family she disliked.

Today as he’s talking to Libby, she brings up how much easier it would be for everyone if it would have been him and her. There was a night when Libby was 17 that she tried to seduce him. Cam had let her kiss him, but then he’s turned her down, saying that her father would kill him. Libby then gave him a look told him that her father was the one who told her to do it. At that point, Cam knew he had to get out of here and away from these people.

Cam’s thoughts are interrupted by a call from his lawyer, Nathan.


An article from February 2022 describes Libby’s boutique in Tavistock. It also mentions that she was briefly married.

Chapter 11 – Jules

Jules admits to herself that she wants this house and all that money, but she also thinks about how she genuinely loves Cam. She had to ask for help from Ben because she knew that Cam would be upset if she was the one asking for him to come back to a place she knew he hated.

But Ben thinks that she’s going to talk Cam into some type of deal to give them most of what he inherited and get a settlement from the trust, but she has no intention of letting that happen. She wants all of it. Jules thinks about how she grew up poor, living in a trailer park. And she always knew she was willing to do what it takes to have a better life.

In Tavistock, Jules runs into Libby. Libby talks obnoxiously about her wealth and not needing to work. Afterwards, someone in town come sup to Jules and asks if she’s Cam’s wife. The woman, Beth, tells her that Cam was the best part of that family and everyone would be delighted if they tossed his horrible family out of that house.

Jules thinks of it as validation that her plan is right and she’d be doing everyone else around a favor by making it happen. When she gets back to the house, Nelle informs her that Jules and Cam are expected to attend a formal dinner that night where they have some matters to discuss.


In another note dated March 25, 2013 from Ruby, she tells Cam about the end of her marriage with Andrew. She’d been happily married in loving marriage for 10 years and it gave her the false sense of security that she was safe. By now, it was 1980 and she’s recently turned 40. Her father had died shortly after Hugh did, and he left her everything. But there was a caveat in his will that Nelle should be allowed to stay at Ashby House for as long as she was alive.

Nelle had inherited a tidy sum thanks to money their mother had put in a trust for her. Ruby assumed she’d want her own place regardless of the will, but Nelle insisted on staying at Ashby House with her family.

One night, she decides to tell Andrew the truth about what happened with Duke. He tells her how brave she was, and she was elated that he understood and didn’t see her as some sort of monster. She then proceeded to tell him about Hugh, hoping to wash away those sins as well, but she could tell she lost him at that point. She knew he’d never tell and nothing technically changed, but he looked at her differently after that.

He wanted to still love her, but he couldn’t. His presence started to feel unbearable to her, creating dark thoughts in her mind. She convinced herself he didn’t really love her. Finally, she started poisoning him each day with his morning tea. She didn’t want him to die, she wanted him to just accuse her of poisoning her and to leave her. He got sicker and weaker. Finally, Ruby stopped. She realized he had proven himself to her. But by then he had ingested too much poison and his organs were shot. He died in December 1980.

Nelle made appropriate donations to ensure there was no autopsy, and she created an arts center in his name.

Chapter 12 – Camden

That night, Libby gives Jules a dress to wear for dinner, and Cam notices that Libby selected one of Ruby’s favorite dresses. Over dinner, the McTavishes are excited, and Cam suspects he knows what’s going on. Finally, Libby tosses down a file folder full of papers. Before they can tell Cam what’s going on, he cuts them off. He says that he knows Ruby was really Dora Darnell.


In a note dated March 29, 2013 from Ruby, she discusses the death of her last husband, Roddy Kenmore, who she acknowledges she never should have married in the first place. Ruby met him in a nightclub. She was lost and a little “rudderless” and he was younger than her and filthy rich. A part of her hopes his father’s money would let her cut strings with the McTavish side of her. Once they were married, he came into his money, and proceeded to try to snort it all up his nose. As his drug problems deepened, she wanted out of the marriage.

Ruby admits she probably could have just divorced him, but a part of her felt disloyal to Andrew for killing him while merely divorcing Roddy. She ends up suggesting a midnight boat ride and pushing him off, knowing he can’t swim. A little money ensured the matter disappeared quietly, though this is when she got the nickname of Ms. Kill-more, which she resents.

After his death, Rudy started really considering whether there was something very wrong with her that resulted in the darkness that caused her to kill her husbands. She needed to find out if she really was Dora Darnell.


A tabloid article from the National Enquirer in 1985 discusses Roddy’s death and refers to her as Ms. Kill-more.

Chapter 13 – Camden

After Camden makes his announcement, he tells them he’s known since he was 17 since Ruby sat him down and told him that she’d done DNA tests. She really was baby stolen from a poor family to replace the one a wealthier family was so careless with.

He also tells his family that none of it matters, because even if Ruby was really born Dora Darnell, she was still the one who inherited the money. The money wasn’t left to his eldest daughter, it was left to Ruby. Camden says his lawyers have already gone through the will.

Then, Ben and Libby start to make accusations about what really happened the night of Ruby’s death, saying that Libby is going to claim that she saw Camden coming out of Ruby’s room the night she died.

Camden is furious, but just wants nothing to do with any of this, saying they can just have the house and money, and he stalks off. However, Jules tells him he can’t just let them win. Jules wants him to fight them, but Cam says he has no desire to spend years tied up in court with these people. He gets upset with Jules when it’s clear it’s what she wants. Frustrated, he leaves and goes into Ruby’s room to take a sleeping pill.

When he wakes up, he feels woozy and he hears Jules screaming.


In a note dated March 30, 2013 from Ruby, she discusses what happened after she learned she was Dora Darnell. She learns that Jimmy and Helen are dead, but Claire is still alive and living in Tallahassee. In 1985, Claire is 42, just a few years younger than Ruby herself. Ruby goes to find her, and Claire tells her the truth about what happened.

She says that Helen had commented that Dora had resembled the missing McTavish toddler, and Jimmy had somehow contacted the McTavishes. Then, some guy had come to inspect Dora, and soon Ruby’s father Mason McTavish had come to inspect her as well. Mason had been worried that his wife Ann wouldn’t be able to get over Ruby’s disappearance. Ann had been the one who had sent Ruby into the woods to go look for her nanny, not realizing the nanny had already gone to pack their things.

Mason then brokered a deal with Jimmy for a large amount of money that would’ve made the Darnell family rich. Jimmy Darnell would then confess and spend a few days in county jail before Mason would secure him an “escape”. But Mason had him had him shot instead. And Dora burnt all the money the night Dora was taken away, asking what kind of mother would take that money. Claire says that Helen never got over it.

After hearing the story, Ruby offers Claire assistance or anything to make things better, but Claire says she wants nothing to do with the McTavishes. Still, Ruby offers Claire her card. Afterwards, Ruby thinks about how her father knew all along. She knew she didn’t want the McTavishes to get the fortune back. Instead, Ruby decides to adopt a child and monitor whether being around money corrupts him or not. If not, she’s going to give him everything.

Chapter 14 – Jules

Jules wakes up from her nightmare as Cam gently shakes her awake. Then, they notice as a police car pulls up. The officers come inside and Ben says that Nelle is dead. When the officer goes to check the body, Ben asks him to leave her alone, and the officer is deferential to Ben and does as he’s told.

Afterwards, Jules and Cam talk. He’s upset after that scene. He tells Jules that he killed Ruby.

Chapter 15 – Camden

Camden explains that Ruby was always trying to control him and did not want him to leave. She got him fired from multiple jobs to try to get him to come home. The last time he saw her, she had taken a bunch of pills and told him that he could let her die and have his freedom or he could call an ambulance and save her. He ended up letting her die, and smothering her with a pillow to stop the noises she was making as she died, and he’s been wracked with guilt about it. Jules tells Cam that it’s not his fault and that she was the one who killed herself.

Jules then shows Cam some letters that she found, written by Ruby and (all the notes interspersed throughout the book) addressed to someone, though it’s not clear who.

Chapter 16 – Jules

Cam and Jules agree they should just get out of this house. Jules tells Cam that she understands why he can’t be here, and they should just leave and go home. Cam says he needs to go out and take care of some stuff, but he’ll be back in a few hours.

Alone in the house, Jules goes looking for some paper in Ruby’s office, not wanting Ben to find them later. However, when she’s in there, she’s confronted by Ben who has already found them. The papers show that Jules is actually Caitlin Julianne Darnell and that she was in touch Ruby before her death.

When Ben threatens to tell Cam the truth, Jules asks him why he would even bother when he’s already gotten what he wants. Then she realizes he would do it just for the sake of hurting Cam. Jules then accuses Ben of killing Nelle (because she would be the next in line for Cam’s inheritance if he gave it up and Ben couldn’t wait just a few more years for Nelle to pass away naturally). She says that’s why he didn’t let the officer inspect the body. Signs of strangulation can be seen in the mouth and Ben didn’t want them to see that.

Jules turns to leave, which she narrates was “one last, stupid mistake”.

Chapter 17 – Camden

Camden makes a drive to Knoxville, where his birth mother, Penny Halliday, lives. He tracked her down when he was 14 and started making drives to go see her but stopped when he was 18. He has never made contact with her. She teaches art at a community center for underprivileged kids. Today, he makes the drive again and waits outside to see her. She has kids now, but he’s always understood she probably gave him up because she thought that was what was best for her.

Looking out at them, he thinks about how ultimately Jules is his real family. He hasn’t told her that he knows, but he figured out a long time ago that she was really Caitlin Julianne Darnell, the great niece of Dora Darnell. Claire Darnell had a daughter, Linda, who had her own daughter, Caitlin.

He had suspected it was a plot by Ruby when Jules/Caitlin took an interest in him, but he’d fallen for her anyway.

Finally, Camden heads back to the house, but when he arrives he realizes it’s on fire. There is a momentary panic before he sees that Jules is alive and fine. He hears her explaining to him and an EMT tearfully that Libby and Ben didn’t make it out alive, and he thinks that she’s a good actress, and maybe she’ll tell him the truth one day.


In a note dated March 31, 2013 from Ruby, she expresses delight at hearing from Caitlin. She acknowledges that Caitlin’s first message was a little threatening, but she’s eager to be in touch with her and to come up with a plan for Caitlin to meet Camden. She thinks they’ll be good for each other.


In a note dated September 3, 2013 from Jules/Caitlin to Ruby, she talks about how she knows Ruby has passed away now, but she’s sending this letter anyway. She was disappointed when Ruby didn’t make any provisions for her in her will when she died, but then one day she happened to run into Cam and recognized him from the photos. She wondered if it was destiny.

Epilogue – Eight months later – Jules

8 months later, Jules is pregnant and she and Cam are living just off the coast of South Carolina. Cam is now more willing to use his inheritance, now that he’s able to disassociate it with the drama of the McTavishes, and he’s been using it to donate to various causes like an community center in Tennessee.

She thinks about how Libby’s death was an accident (she didn’t know Libby had taken an Ambien and was fast asleep), but Ben’s death was entirely intentional. He had struck her with a paperweight when she tried to leave the office, and in fear and anger, Jules went for the fireplace poker and killed him. Then, with Ben already dead, she needed to destroy the evidence, so she burned the house down. She told them Ben had been burning something in the office when the fire started.

The portrait of Ruby managed to survive, and she still has Ruby’s letters hidden behind the frame. She’d also found one additional item hidden in the frame — it was a newspaper article from August 18, 1987 with a photo. There’s a number of handwritten notes jotted on it when Ruby was clearly trying to work something out.

The photo is of two women and has the caption “Mrs. Faith Carter watches the parade with her mother, Mrs. Lydia Hollingsworth.” The girl, Faith, resembles a younger Nelle, and Jules eventually realized that the photo was potentially of Grace (the nanny) and the real Ruby McTavish. Jules wonders if Grace saw what a terrible environment the McTavish household was and decided to kidnap Ruby in order to get her out of there.

The book ends with Jules thinking about the darkness lurking in both her and Cam and wondering if their child will be free of that darkness or not.

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