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Keys to the Castle

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  781 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The author of the Ladybug Farm series delivers an exhilarating new novel of a middle-aged woman who follows her heart to love and happiness.

When a dashing French poet swept forty-something workaholic Sara Graves off her feet, she did something completely unexpected: She married him. Then three weeks later he died, leaving her a house she can't afford to keep in a country
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Berkley Books (first published October 28th 2010)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  781 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I’m dismayed there aren’t more romances written with an older main couple. It seems most love stories with a man and a woman over forty are delegated to second story status. What grabbed me about Donna Ball's Keys to the Castle is that the hero and heroine are over forty-five. Also, Donna, known as Donna Boyd, who wrote The Passion, (one of my favorite all-time books) is an excellent story teller. This is proven perfectly with Keys to the Castle, an endearing romance that has a nice chick-lit bu ...more
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Keys to the Castle is a modern fairy tale complete with happily every after. Donna Ball has written a fun story featuring a middle aged heroin.

Sara Graves met and married Daniel, a dashing French poet, only to have him die three weeks later. A year later Sara must travel to France to settle Daniel’s estate. When she arrives she finds that the broken down castle Daniel talked about is in reality a estate. Chateau Rondelais, the castle, needs a lot of work but is Sara is soon charmed with the loc
Nov 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Keys to the Castle is the newest contemporary romance novel by Donna Ball, who is not only prolific under this pseudonym but under several others as well including Donna Boyd, Donna Carlisle, Rebecca Flanders and more.

Keys to the Castle is about two of what I call "hoity-toity" middle-aged aristocratic characters who unexpectedly find love under the most unusual and melodramatic circumstances. Sara Graves is the recent widow of an artistic, bohemian French-man who leaves behind a magnificent (an
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball
Contemporary Romance - Jan 4th, 2011
4 stars

Sara Graves is widowed three weeks after her whirlwind marriage to the charming, romantic Daniel Orsay. After his death, she realized that she barely knew anything about him or his life back in France. The only thing he left her is an estate in Loire Valley. Sara travels to France, hoping to sell the house, only to realize that it is a real-life chateaux that comes complete with a huge amount of overdue property tax and e
CoffeeTimeRomance andMore
This story really was one I could identify with. Sara is a middle-aged workaholic who suddenly needs to change her life. She has spent her life taking care of her family and is now trying to take care of herself after losing what she thought was the love of her life. She goes to France just wanting to get rid of her legacy and ends up embracing it. The author has done a phenomenal job of telling Sara and Ash’s story. Her descriptions of Chateau Rondelais and the book’s characters are beautifully ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Far fetched, frivolous and FUN! It reads a bit like a Lifetime movie script, only better written. It is predictable with some surprising twists; just enough to keep you guessing a little. This is most girl's dream....unexpectedly inherit a castle in France, fall in love with a wealthy, handsome English man and live happily ever after. It was just what I needed in the dead of winter. Not good literature, but a great escape. "Calgon, take me away!"
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Being transported to the French countryside. A great love story.. Just a great book.
Elena Johansen
I almost put this down after Chapter 2, when Ash was introduced and I didn't like him one bit. I didn't like the way he spoke to his secretary, I didn't like the way he spoke to his mother. I didn't like his attitude at all.

But I had liked the first chapter, introducing Sara, just fine, so I figured I'd keep reading until the two future lovebirds met, and see if I liked the way Ash spoke to her. It was like he was a different person entirely, and somehow, I read the next two hundred pages in one
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Sara Graves is mourning the loss of her French husband, Daniel, in a little seaside town in North Carolina. She lives with her sister (and through her sister) -- enjoying her nephews and working in the little bookstore her sister owns. When she gets news that she has to settle things in Daniel's home in Rondelais, she reluctantly flies out to France. There, she gets the surprise of her life when she finds out Rondelais is a castle, and she's now the owner. Also surprising is that the castle come ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars) Sara makes an unexpected choice when she marries Daniel, a poet originally from France. She has scraped her way forward in life, pulling herself and her sister out of their trailer park past, to a successful businesswoman. But Daniel charms her and shows her something missing in her life. His tragic death, just weeks after their marriage, throws her into a tailspin and she goes to her sister for support. When she is contacted by a law firm to deal with Daniel’s estate, she is stunnne ...more
K. East
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was first and foremost a modern fairy tale romance. Handsome, wealthy man misleads recently widowed attractive, self-assured woman in a castle in France. Throw in an adorable orphaned child and a witty, wealthy mother-in-law and you have all the pieces. Not my cup of tea. I had read two other Ball novels that included strong women looking to get their lives back on track and thought this novel might be similar in theme. Not similar. But I should have figured that out with the beginning of c ...more
Sarah Fuller
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it

It was fine for what it was, a bland fairy with no real imagination.

Sara is workaholic who took a chance on a French writer. When he died she inherits his family estate, of which she had zero clue about, and is a broken down castle. With this, is her dead husbands charming English lawyer, Ash. Add in an adorable love child her late husband refused to acknowledge, but was taken care of anyway.

Sara either has to do it all alone or wishes Ash would take care of her. Why must so called independ
Ann Boytim
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Sara Graves never expected to find love but did so at a later age than most and married a young French poet who swept her off her feet. Unfortunately within three weeks of marriage Daniel died in a car accident. Sara never really knew ab out Daniel's past but now she has been summoned by a lawyer who informed her that Daniel had left some property in France. Sara arrives in France to find a crumbling castle in the Loire Valley and she is at a loss on how to proceed. Stay or go this is a big ques ...more
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018
Because I loved the Ladybug Farm series I thought I would love this book as well but I actually found it disappointing. I was pretty confused with all of the legal talk about who owned the castle and what could be done with it, etc.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Good beach read. Predictable but fun.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. Had romance and suspense. It was not so predictable like other romance novels. Donna Ball is one of my favorite authors.
Ruth Coleman
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Too predictable, and the author copied a character in a favorite book of mine (a classic).
Mar 07, 2017 added it
Shelves: romance, fiction

Rating: 2.5 stars
Review: I have enjoyed Donna Ball's "Ladybug Farm" series so much that I hoped to enjoy this book as well. And while I did enjoy it to a certain extent—there is mystery, excitement, challenge, romance, family (and the importance of it), and France!—the characters do get annoying. The relationship between Ash and Sara yo-yos so predictably, it's almost annoying. Sara doesn't know what she wants but then she does and then she doesn't (mid-life crisis? unaccountable grief?) and tha
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Sara Graves was a forty-something year old workaholic when she met Daniel, a French poet. They married at settled on St. John Island, North Carolina. I want to go there; I'm in love with islands. Back to the book. Sara is deeply in love with Daniel, but three weeks after their marriage he dies in a tragic accident. He leaves her a 400 year old castle in the Loire Valley. I also want to go there. It's in France the estate is called Chateau Rondelais. Sara falls in love with it, and with the Danie ...more
Ann Keller
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
Sara Graves is still struggling to come to terms with the death of her new husband, when an invitation arrives for her to go to France to settle her husband’s estate. Daniel was a talented poet, but she never realized he was also part owner of a 400-year-old crumbling castle in the beautiful Loire Valley!

Sara is intrigued by the secrets of Chateau Rondelais. Its immense polished marble halls and magnificent chandeliers hide the tarnished silver ornamentation and faded wallpaper well. The gardens
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Sara Graves, recently widowed, is at a crossroads in her life. She inherits property in France from her husband and travels to see the property and what her options are. She gets along well with Ash Lindeman, the attorney handling her inheritance, and later on finds that her husband was not completely honest with her during their brief marriage.

I was going to give this book 2 stars because the actual dialogue between the characters, got annoying, but the author described France, the castle, an
Judy Iliff
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Keys to the Castle is by the same author of the Ladybug Farms books. While I enjoyed Keys, I didn't think it was as good as LBF, and maybe because Keys was really more of a romance (but not the bodice-ripping kind) than a story of friendship. Bell does have a definite talent for writing descriptions. It was easy to get lost in the description of the chalet and French countryside.

At an age when she thought she'd accomplished all her goals, Sara Graves meets a poet from France. She is literally sw
Jun 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
3.5 stars. A sweet, engrossing book. Main characters are slightly older which I like and the descriptions of the French countryside and the chateau were vivid. I am currently finishing up an audio book of a contemporary romance [why?? I keep asking myself- because it was there- and once begun I see it through] which has 7 discs. The couple were "at it" by disc one and once or twice with increasing anatomical play-by-play on every disc thereafter. Give it a rest!! This book was refreshingly "dis ...more
May 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. I reaaaaaly hate to give a book a 2 star rating... I really do. This book, while totally fanciful in nature, isn't a bad book.... I just absolutely HATED the male lead. Hard to really enjoy a book when what you really want to do is thwonk the leading man upside his head with said book. I don't find workaholics at all charming. I am married to one. I know all too well about the phone always glued to the ear, the reading of e-mails while ostensibly talking to you, the lack of ability to e ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Keys to the Castle had an intriguing story line, but there were a few hiccups:

1) I found the bad language unnecessary and off putting. It detracted from the characters and the story.

2) There were a couple typos that interrupted the flow of the novel as I tried to figure out what the author was communicating.

3) The author presents some big heavy stuff, then sweeps it under the rug and presents a too perfect and completely unrealistic fairy tale ending wrapped in a sparkly bow.

Otherwise it was an
Nicole Prestin
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
Cute, mindless and completely disposable fluff that was competently written and didn't make me roll my eyes or toss the book over my shoulder in disgust, as a lot of books in this genre do. It does get a bit too saccharine by the end though. And while I thought it was cool that the romantic pair was a woman in her late forties and a man in his early fifties, I was sort of dismayed that this novel followed the standard, formulaic path of having a kid (in this case adopted) to moon over will give ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Talk about unrealistic!! But , that was mainly its charm. A real to life fairy tale when a woman married only a few weeks when her husband dies in an accident, inherits a castle (yes, I said castle) in France. Of course, it's hundreds of years old and partly falling down, but if it wasn't, then the book would be boring, right? She gets along, not one iota, with the executer of the castle...and you know where it goes from there. Just a little too predictable, but a fun read and cute and a great ...more
Nov 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, fiction
Cute, sweet summer chick-lit read. Along the same lines as the author's Ladybug Farm series. Recently widowed after a whirlwind courtship and marriage to a French poet, Sara is stunned to find she owns most of a crumbling "castle" chateau in France but soon finds herself enchanted by the place and wanting to restiore it. Complicating things is her attraction to her late husband's lawyer and best friend and a her growing devotion young girl that may be her late-husband's illegitimate daughter.
Donna Jo Atwood
What a fun romance--the hero and heroine are in their forties. He English,she's American, but is the widow of a French poet, who died after three weeks of marriage, leaving her the family chateau. Quelle shock!
This had some charming and amusing characters, some unreal situations, and some places requiring leaps of faith, but it was worth it. Donna Ball wrote the perfect book for me to read this afternoon.
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