The Ravenscar Dynasty: A Novel

The Ravenscar Dynasty: A Novel

by Barbara Taylor Bradford


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Barbara Taylor Bradford introduced the illustrious Harte family in her blockbuster A Woman of Substance. Now she has created an unforgettable new dynasty: the Deravenels.

On a bitterly cold day in 1904, the Deravenel family's future changes forever. When Cecily Deravenel tells her eighteen-year-old son Edward of the death of his father, brother, uncle, and cousin in a fire, a part of him dies as well. Edward and his cousin Neville Watkins are suspicious of the deaths. They vow to seek the truth, avenge the deaths, and retake control of their family's business empire.

As he grows into a handsome, charismatic man, Edward is torn between duty and desire. There are women in his life for whom he'll risk everything—and one woman who might destroy him. But madness and secrecy lie at the heart of the family, and Edward's enemies are far more ruthless than he knows. He will need his strength more than ever when the house of Deravenel is fatally rocked by betrayal from within. Who will become the ultimate ruler of the Deravenels?

Power and money, passion and adultery, ambition and treachery all illuminate a dramatic epic saga that brings to life the glittering Edwardian Era. The Ravenscar Dynasty is based on the familial factions of England's Wars of the Roses, brought to life by the magical, memorable storytelling power that is Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312354657
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/31/2007
Series: Ravenscar Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 666,634
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.27(d)

About the Author

Barbara Taylor Bradford is the author of more than 25 bestselling novels, including Playing the Game, Breaking the Rules, and The Ravenscar Dynasty. She was born in Leeds, England, and from an early age, she was a voracious reader: at age 12, she had already read all of Dickens and the Brontë sisters. By the age of twenty, she was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979, and it has become an enduring bestseller. Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books are published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 82 million. Ten of her novels have been adapted into television mini-series starring actors including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Hurley. She has been inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, and in June of 2007, Barbara was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature. She lives in New York City with her husband, television producer Robert Bradford, to whom all her novels are dedicated, and their Bichon Frise dogs, who sit under her desk while she writes.


New York, New York

Place of Birth:

Yorkshire, England


Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls in Yorkshire, England

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One Yorkshire 1904 Edward Deravenel galloped ahead at great speed, leaving his brothers behind, rapidly gaining the advantage. He urged his white stallion forward, oblivious to the icy weather, the lash of the wind on his face. At one moment, half turning in the saddle, glancing behind him, Edward laughed out loud, his hilarity filling the air as he waved to his brothers: George, endeavoring to catch up, his face grim in its determination . . . Richard, struggling even farther behind, yet laughing and waving back. But then he was the youngest, and much less competitive, the baby of the family, and Edward’s particular favorite. For a split second Edward considered slowing down and allowing Richard to win this impromptu race, which had come about spontaneously a short while before, then instantly changed his mind. George would inevitably contrive to finish first, by pushing Richard out of the way in his overriding desire to be the winner. Somehow he always managed to do this, no matter what the circumstances. And this Edward could not permit. He strived to make certain Richard was never humiliated, never diminished by George, who was older than Richard by three years and frequently endeavored to lord it over the younger boy. Edward continued at a gentler pace along the narrow path, glancing to his left as he did. The cliffs fell steeply to the rocks and the beach; six hundred feet below him, the North Sea roared under the gusting wind, resembled polished steel in the January sunlight. The waves frothed and churned against the jagged rock formations, while above him kittiwakes, graceful and buoyant in flight, squawked stridentlyas they wheeled and turned against the pale sky. Hundreds of these beautiful white gulls with black-tipped wings made their homes on the cliff faces, and as a child he had watched them nesting through his binoculars. He shivered involuntarily as the sudden remembrance of a tragedy of long ago hit him most forcibly. A man in his father’s employ, who had been bird-watching, had plunged to his death from this very spot. Now, instinctively, Edward veered away from the precarious cliffs, headed in the direction of the dirt road which led across the moors and was much safer terrain. This morning the moorland was dun-colored and patched with slabs of frozen snow, and there was no question in Edward’s mind that he much preferred riding up here when the weather was more benign, the air even balmy and filled with the scent of wildflowers, and the northern summer light dazzling. Edward mentally chastised himself for taking his brothers out on this winter day. He had realized, rather late, that it was far too bitter, especially for Richard, who tended to catch colds so easily. He dared not contemplate his mother’s ire if the boy fell sick because of this ill-conceived outing. Swinging his head, Edward saw that the boys had again slowed and were obviously fatigued by the long ride. He must spur them on, get them home without delay. He shouted, “Come on, chaps! Let’s get a move on!” And he set off at a brisk canter. Once or twice he glanced behind him, pleased that his brothers had heeded his words and were cantering hard on his heels. Within minutes, to his profound relief, their ancestral home was in his direct line of vision. Ravenscar, the beautiful old manor house where the Deravenels had lived for centuries, stood on high ground, set back from the sea, and dominated the surrounding landscape. Dark green trees, ancient, tall, and stately, formed a semicircle around it on three sides, and these were backed by high stone walls; the fourth wall was a natural one—the North Sea. This stretched into infinity below the tiered gardens and sloping lawns that ended at the edge of the precipitous cliffs. As Edward drew closer, he could easily make out the crenellation along the line of the roof, smoke curling up from the chimneys, and the many mullioned windows glittering in the sunlight. Within seconds he was bringing his horse to a slow trot, riding through the black iron gates and up the long, tree-lined drive. This ended with some abruptness in a small, circular courtyard covered with gravel and with a sundial in its center. The house was built of a local, pale-colored stone that had mellowed to a soft golden beige with the passing of the centuries. It typified Tudor architecture with its recesses and bays, gables and battlements, and many windows of differing sizes. Ravenscar was one of those grand houses from the past, and it had a lovely symmetry and a charm all its own. To Edward there was a sense of timelessness about it, a quality of serenity and peace dwelling in its gently flowing facade, and he understood why his forebears had always cherished and cared for this treasure. The Deravenels had lived in their house by the sea since 1578, the year it was finished. Before then, for many centuries, the family had occupied the fortified castle that had stood on the edge of the cliffs; a ruin now, it was nonetheless a well-maintained ruin. This stronghold had been built in 1070 by the founding father of the dynasty, one Guy de Ravenel, a young knight from Falaise, liege man of William, Duke of Normandy. Duke William had invaded England in 1066, claiming his right to the English throne through his cousin the deceased monarch Edward the Confessor, who had promised that the throne would be his one day. But for political convenience, Edward had reneged on that promise and passed over William in favor of his wife’s brother, Harold, bequeathing the throne to the man who became, briefly, Harold II. Believing his claim to be absolutely legitimate, William had crossed the English Channel with the six knights who were his trusted childhood friends and a large army. He defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings and was proclaimed William the Conqueror and crowned on Christmas Day of 1066. A few years later, William had dispatched Guy de Ravenel to the north to act as his marshal. Based in Yorkshire, Guy had followed William’s orders, had kept the peace, by force when necessary, built defenses and forts, and ensured the north’s loyalty to the Norman king. And Guy had been enriched by William because of his staunch loyalty and unparalleled success. Ever since that time, some 835 years ago, descendants of Guy de Ravenel had lived on this long stretch of coastline known as Ravenscar high above the North Sea. Nearby was the ancient seaport and spa of Scarborough; a little farther along the expansive stretch of coast was a picturesque fishing village with the quaint name of Robin Hood’s Bay. Both dated back to Roman times. Edward rode out of the courtyard and around to the back of the house, heading for the stable block. He clattered into the cobbled yard, his brothers following behind him, and jumped off his horse with his usual vitality and energy. As he hurried over to his youngest brother, he greeted the stable lads cheerfully; a moment later he was reaching up for the eight-year-old Richard, exclaiming, “Let me help you down, Dick!” Richard shook his head vehemently. “I can manage, Ned. I truly can,” the boy protested, stealing a surreptitious look at George through the corner of his eye. He knew only too well that his brother would tease him unmercifully if Ned helped him to dismount. But Ned paid not the slightest attention to Richard; he put his strong arms around the boy, determined to lift him out of the saddle. Richard sighed. Accepting that he now had no choice, he slipped his riding boots out of the stirrups and reluctantly slid into his brother’s enfolding arms. For a split second, Edward held Richard close to his chest, and then he put him down on the cobblestones, noting that the youngster’s narrow face was pinched with cold and drained of color. My fault, he chided himself, regretting even more his thoughtlessness. “Thank you, Ned,” Richard murmured, staring up into his oldest brother’s face through his steady, slate-blue eyes. Edward was six feet four, broad of chest, very strong and athletic. His brilliant eyes were as blue as the speedwells that grew in the summer meadows, and his thick hair was a stunning burnished red-gold. To Richard, and to every woman who met him, Edward Deravenel was the handsomest man alive, and in addition, he had a warm, outgoing personality. He was affable, inordinately friendly, and blessed with a beguiling charm that captivated everyone. Richard loved him more than anyone else in the family, was completely devoted to him, and he would be all of Edward’s life, and even after that. “Inside the house as fast as you can,” Edward cried, giving Richard an affectionate push toward the side door, which led to the mudroom. “And you, too, George, my lad. No dawdling around this morning.” The two boys did his bidding, and as Edward followed them at a quick pace, he called out to one of the stable lads, “The horses have been ridden hard this morning, Ernie. They need your very best rubdown, and put the heavy wool blankets on them before you give them water and feed.” “Aye, Master Edward,” Ernie shouted back, glancing at him. He and the other stable lad took the reins of the three horses and led them toward the stables and tack room. Once Edward and his brothers entered the mudroom, they felt the warmth of the house surrounding them. Shedding their black-and-white checked caps and thick woolen Inverness capes, they scraped their riding boots free from dirt. A moment later they all went down the corridor at the back of the house, heading toward the Long Hall at its center. “I shall ask Cook to make us a small snack and hot tea,” Edward informed his brothers, an arm on each of their shoulders. “Perhaps she’ll be able to rustle up some of those delicious Cornish pasties of hers.” “Oooh, I hope so,” George exclaimed and added, “and sausage rolls as well. I’m very hungry.” “And what about you?” Edward asked, glancing down at Richard. “Aren’t you ravenous?” “I will enjoy the hot tea,” Richard answered, smiling up at his brother. “But I’m not really very hungry, Ned.” “We’ll see about that when you smell some of Cook’s tidbits. You know how they make your mouth water,” Edward said and shepherded his brothers into the Morning Room. The boys raced over to the fire roaring in the grate and stood warming their hands, glad to be thawing out. After doing exactly the same thing, Edward swung around and went back to the door, explaining, “I’m going to have a word with Cook. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Closing the door behind him, he left them to their own devices. Edward hoped George wouldn’t tease Richard; he so often did. He was a bit of a bully, and Richard had not yet learned how to go into verbal combat.   Mrs. Latham glanced up expectantly when the door to her kitchen opened. Instantly she broke into laughter. “Why, good mornin’, Master Edward!” “Hello, Mrs. Latham,” he responded in his usual polite manner, giving her one of his most beguiling smiles. “I know how busy you are on Tuesdays, but would it be possible for you to make a large pot of tea and something to eat for us? The boys are famished after their ride on the cliffs.” “By gum, I bet they are!” She wiped her big, capable hands on a tea towel and strode across to the long oak table standing in the middle of the huge kitchen. “I’ve just been baking a few things—” She broke off, waved a hand in front of her morning’s work, and added, “Pork pies, fish cakes, Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, and savory tarts. Take a look, and take your pick, Master Edward.” “How splendid,” he said, grinning at her. “A veritable feast, Cook. But then you’re the best in the world. No one has your skill in the kitchen, no one.” “Oh, get along with yer, sir. It’s a real flatterer yer are.” This was said with a hint of pride at his compliment. Straightening her back, she added, “I knows yer all like the Cornish pasties, and Master George is ever so fond of my sausage rolls. I’ll get a tray ready for yer, sir, and send young Polly with it in a tick, once I’ve made the pot of tea. Does that suit, Master Edward?” “It does indeed, Cook, and I can’t wait to sample some of this fare, it smells delicious. Thank you so much, I do appreciate it.” Once more he gave her the benefit of his warm smile and inclined his head. “My pleasure,” she called after him, watching him walk over to the door. Swinging his head, he grinned at her, waved, and was gone. Mrs. Latham stared at the door for a moment, her eyes filled with admiration. Edward Deravenel was blessed with the most pleasant nature as well as those staggering good looks. She couldn’t help wondering how many hearts he would break. Scores, no doubt. At eighteen he already had women falling at his feet. Spoil him, that they will, she thought, clucking to herself as she turned to the ovens. Aye, they’ll spoil him rotten, give him whatever he wants, and that’s not always a good thing for a man. No, it’s not. I’ve seen many a toff like him ruined by women, more’s the pity. She swung around as the door opened again and muttered, “There yer are, young Polly. I was just wondering where yer’d got to—” She broke off and clucked again. “Bump in ter Master Edward, did yer, lass?” The parlor maid nodded and blushed. “He’s ever so nice ter me, Cook.” Mrs. Latham shook her head and sighed but made no further reference to Edward. Instead she continued, “Set a large tray, please, Polly. I’m preparing a mornin’ snack for Master Edward and his brothers. When it’s ready, yer can take it ter the Morning Room.” “Yes, Cook.” Edward made his way back to the Morning Room and his brothers. He was lost in thought, contemplating his return to university. Today was Tuesday, January the fifth; in two days he would travel to London and go up to Oxford that weekend. He was looking forward to returning and especially pleased that he would be reunited with his best friend and boon companion of many years, Will Hasling, who was also an undergraduate. His attention suddenly became focused on the end of the corridor. He had just caught a fleeting glimpse of a dark skirt and jacket, a froth of white at the neck, a well-coiffed blond head. And then there had been the click of a door closing. He hurried forward, passing the Morning Room and not stopping until he reached the room at the end of the corridor. Pausing at the door which had just closed, he listened intently. There were no voices, only the sound of someone moving around, the rustle of papers. Tapping lightly on the door, he did not wait to be summoned. He simply walked in. The woman in the room stared at him, obviously startled. Edward closed the door, leaned against it. “Hello, Alice.” Copyright © 2006 by Beaji Enterprises. All rights reserved. 

Table of Contents


Title Page,
part one - powerful allies,
part two - golden boy,
part three - glittering temptations,
author's note,
also by barbara taylor Bradford,
extraordinary praise for BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD and her novels,
The Heir,
Copyright Page,

Customer Reviews

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The Ravenscar Dynasty (Ravenscar Series #1) 2.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Ms. Bradford's books, and without a doubt, this is the worst. There wasn't one person in the whole book that was likeable. They were back-stabbing, ruthless, deceptive, philandering, traitorous -- I could go on and on. Even the so called 'hero' was an incurable womanizer who kept a mistress while he fathered eight children. Granted, it was based on The War of the Roses, names and all, but it took place in the 20th Century, not the 15th! Hopefully, we've become a little more civilized since then. And Ms. Bradford's dialogue is totally insipid. About the only good thing I can say about the book was that it WASN'T about that interminable Harte family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The cast is difficult to figure out... cousins, brothers, uncles, mistresses...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never read this famous author before...thank goodness. I kept waiting for the story to begin. This was like reading an outline of a story idea with all the characters to be fleshed out before publishing, worst luck, they published before that could happen!
Nancy-Jean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As with all of BTB's Books--I give it 5 stars. It has suspense, drama, intrigue--everything to capture and hole the attention--can't wait for the Heir to come --soon I hope
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
elbell More than 1 year ago
Boring, hard to read, and not remotely interesting. Forced myself to read it because I bought it. DO NOT BUY
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
and read the other related books...The Heir and Being Elizabeth Enjoyed the contrast to "The Tudors"
cmOH More than 1 year ago
Great read..Barbara Taylor Bradford delivers again in a very enjoyable beginning of a new family storyline. I hope she goes back and writes about the origins of the family who created this dynasty.
jane_eyre89 More than 1 year ago
the character edward deravenal is everything a woman can ask for. the story revolve around the deravenel's life. i just like the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Ms. Bradford's books, and without a doubt, this is the worst. There wasn't one person in the whole book that was likeable. They were back-stabbing, ruthless, deceptive, philandering, traitorous -- I could go on and on. Even the so called 'hero' was an incurable womanizer who kept a mistress while he fathered eight children. Granted, it was based on The War of the Roses, names and all, but it took place in the 20th Century, not the 15th! Hopefully, we've become a little more civilized since then. And Ms. Bradford's dialogue is totally insipid. About the only good thing I can say about the book was that it WASN'T about that interminable Harte family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am halfway through and finding it difficult to believe this is a Barbara Taylor Bradford book. It's work to read this one. The names alone!! First there is Edward who in the next line is called Ned. I have also read 'darling Lily' too many times to count. Will finish, but can't wait to start another book by another author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As in Woman of Substance, the men are weak. The characters are not sympathetic and all are self serving. An 18 yo kid has an affaire with a 32 yo woman. She becomes pregnant, but they are so adult about it in that she will have the baby and he can be a part of her life or not. She is wealthy because of her two late husbands. In fact everyone is wealthy because of inheritances. Someone had to earn the money, but in this book wealth magically appears. The racial profiling of the horseman who caused the accident in Hyde Park is unacceptable. The plot doesn't anchor, and then that is questionable, until the last 100 pages. Books are expensive. There are better ones out there. Much better ones.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think I have read every book Barbara has written, and was really looking forward to this one. However, the characters just didn't seem as real to me as the Emma series. And I know that the Edwardian era was full of sexual encounters, but this was endless. The worst of my problems was the interchangeable use of Edward and Ned. Then you add Neville to the mix and the whole plot is muddled.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Barbara Taylor Bradford, but this has got to be the most boring book I've tried to read in years. After about a week trying to get 'into' this one, I gave up. Very, very disappointing. What a waste of time and money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Does anyone edit books anymore? The dialogue in this was atrocious. If I came across 'endeavor' one more time I was ready to scream. I'm beginning to wonder if Mrs. Bradford really wrote 'A Woman of Substance' by herself. The subsequent books in the series were not as good as the first, and she has avoided the historical genre until now - a wise move as this disaster proves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! The Ravenscar Dynasty was superb. I'm a huge fan of Barbara Taylor Bradford and this new book is a great start to a new trilogy. This is one of those books with dozens of characters on two sides of a family at war. Neither side is comprised of perfect people, though Edward Deravel is clearly part of the branch that has been wronged. He and his cousin, Neville seek revenge for the deaths of their fathers, and an assortment of other attacks. Game on! Ravenscar Dynasty is filled with memorable characters and a great deal of history. It is set in the early 1900s in England and Italy. A very promising start to a new saga from an author we all know and love!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was extremely disappointed with her writing style, character development, and flow. I lost interest in the main character early on and it never got better. Save yourself time and money. Read something else.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am hoping that I did not lumber through this cumbersome, hesitant, posturing, obtuse, 482 page drivel for nothing. Aside from the cost for the hardcover edition! This is not even Emma Harte with her multiple progeny and endless red haired relatives! I am very disappointed and can only hope that something better is coming from this 14 year old father who has a penchant for gilded haired, hourglass figured, widowed or married women who are older always. This man is supposed to possess a briliant business sense along with being a stud and a dynasty maker!! His present wife, a widow with two children, who are never mentioned after the marriage and their own dozen or so offspring don't fit at all. I will read the next edition in this saga and that is IT! The book and story are too fragmented, making it impossible to hold one's attention. I hope that all of this dull background is for a purpose and will undoubtedly bring Deravenel into his own as a very young widower with umpteen kids and his own siblings to continue to raise - will prove to be at least readable. Neville, the only character of any weight, died far too early and having his car chased by his cousins as a murder weapon was really over the top. Dull, dull,dull.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First, I have loved many novels by this author. Second, this novel was such a disappointment I felt as if I was confused or mistaken about the author - as if another person had actually written this book. The plot is so thin it's as if you're digesting a clear, boring broth of a 'book' instead of the good hearty stew you would expect with an historical saga. The characters seem to be completely stupid, asking each other the same questions over and over and exclaiming over the same revelations time and again as if these were truly new, interesting, or exciting. It seems almost as if the author created a 30 page story that had to be stretched to 200 pages, and so added as much filler and Inane dialogue as possible. The writing is almost Danielle Steelish in it's simplicity (althouth not every sentance begins with 'and' or 'but'). The story line has absolutely nothing new, nothing interesting, and nothing to remember, which is so sad considering the incredibly rich history and timeframe in which the work is set.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tedious and boring.