Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Tess


While Sarah and John are digging up the dirt in their respective pasts (see post here), they uncover quite the story. It all starts with the man who turned the Grecian folly into his personal study, cramming it full of books and manuscripts, portfolios, notebooks and looseleaf papers. Robert Langford wasn’t the most organized fellow even if he was a prominent author of spy thrillers à la Ian Fleming. And just like with Fleming, we’re left wondering if Robert derived his plot twists a little too much from personal experience rather than from an overactive imagination.

By all accounts, Robert Langford is quite the catch. This is where I think Tessa Fairweather comes in; she’s an artist who’s been using her unique skill set to forge her way into a fortune. Not for herself mind you; for her sister Ginny who may or may not have gotten herself in entirely over her head (a pun which is somewhat unfortunate given that the Lusitania does actually sink…). Tessa, who’s really Tennessee Schaff, has a verdant imagination which comes in handy when one wants to paint an accurate picture of Robert Langford, which is exactly what Tess’ fingers are itching to do. Case in point, here’s one of her observations of Robert:

The music wrapped around Tess like an enchantment, stroking longings she hadn’t known she had, a longing to be inside that well-lit room, as perfect as a doll’s house, with that man, that man, leaning toward her with the same predatory grace, restraint and hunger all mixed together written in every line of his body.

And while that description of his physicality and presence might make a woman swoon, I think I was hooked by what I imagine his voice sounding like.

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As a woman who is partial to both a good dark chocolate and Guinness, Robert Langford sounds delicious.

But Tess isn’t the only woman who is in Robert’s thrall. There’s also Caroline Hochstetter:

She recognized the woman from the pictures Ginny had cut out of Town Topics: the former Miss Caroline Telfair, pampered Southern belle with a pedigree that went back to God. Or, at least, to three or four Founding Fathers.

And this is where it gets a trifle complex. You see, Caroline has in her possession a rare, unfinished waltz by Johannes Strauss. Tess’ sister, who’s being strong armed by a mysterious someone and we don’t know who, wants Tess to break in, pilfer the waltz, and then copy it.

There are a few problems with this plan. First, Tess is afraid. She hasn’t had time to really do her homework on this job. Sure Ginny keeps telling her that it’s fine so long as she just does as she’s told, but Tess is still ill at ease. It’s not just fear for what her unnamed employers might do to her if she fails; Tess is also scared of her sister.


Second, Tess wants out of her life of crime. She’s ready to walk the straight and narrow. Ginny’s been keeping her at a distance, and whenever Tess brings up going straight, Ginny gets angry. But Tess can’t take this life anymore.


And then there’s that tall, handsome problem that seems to always be lurking in the background whenever Caroline Hochstetter is around, namely Robert Langford. Tess ferrets out his secret rather swiftly. There’s an odd sort of comradely between them, you see. Tess understands Robert, as though their souls were cut of the same cloth. She gets him, knows how he ticks. She knows the torment he suffers under because he believes himself responsible for his brother’s drowning. She also sees the torment and anger he holds against his father who has shunned him since his brother’s death. And, she sees the agony in his heart at his unrequited love.

That last bit is a bitter pill for Tess, as she’s sort of in love with Robert herself. However, a friend in need and all that bother. When Robert is in the Slough of Despond, Tess is the one hoisting him out of it with her hard knock love.

Mr. Langford laughed without humor. ‘That’s a nice bit of ego, isn’t it? Wanting to possess someone entirely, inside and out. But that’s what it is: that’s what I want, not a tumble in the sheets, but a love for the ages, the sort minstrels sing about centuries on. Troy lost, Camelot fallen, diplomacy upended, and kingdoms ruined.’

’You talk like that and I’m confiscating your hooch,’ said Tess tartly.

But then, Ginny warns her. Robert can’t be trusted. Tess is caught betwixt and between. What does her heart tell her? It tells her she can trust Robert. But it also tells her that she loves Ginny. Loving Ginny means she can’t trust Robert. Or does it? And, then things get a little suspicious. Tess may not be a first class passenger, but she’s got first class perspicacity. She starts asking the right questions and answering them herself with rational, plausible answers. One and one makes two, and Tess determines that Robert must be a spy.

So much for subtle. How did one introduce the topic of espionage? Pardon me, but are you trying to get into Mrs. Hochstetter’s drawers or her drawers?

But Tess has her own secrets. Ones that may pit her against Robert, depending on which team he’s batting for. Is he a turncoat, spying for the Germans? Or is he English to his very core and spying for St. George’s Cross?

And then there’s that further complication about her being besotted. Why does Robert have to be so wonderful?

Saying kind words to her:


Lending her his coat when she’s cold and then delivering this wit:

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Honestly, as I was reading this and seeing it unfold, I too found Robert thoroughly enchanting. He’s handsome. He’s witty. He’s urbane. He has a voice that sounds like chocolate AND Guinness. Throw in the glamour of his being a spy- potentially- and you have the ingredients to make just the right sort of man.

I think he’ll win you over, too. But, don’t take my word for it. Enter for your chance to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Glass Ocean for yourself. There’s still time. And, if you can think of anyone else who might like this read, share this link with them. I really appreciate it.

But there’s more: it’s not just Tess that he’s got in a spin. There’s a third party in The Glass Ocean Triumvirate. Caroline Hochstetter has secrets and mysteries of her own. What are they, you might ask? Well, they’re complex, convoluted, and confusing at times. And, they may or may not get someone killed, too. You just have to meet her: check out this post here: Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Caroline.

Good luck, dear readers. Good Luck.