In June 1867, 17-year-old Verity Boone returns to live with her father in her hometown of Catawissa, Pennsylvania. Sent away to relatives as a 2-year-old, Verity is used to a bustling, friendly household filled with children—so different from her father’s silent home.

Still, Verity will not be with her father and his stern housekeeper for long; she has come home to meet her future husband. She accepted Nathaniel McClure’s proposal based on their correspondence and the glimpses of his personality through the gifts he sent— especially the book of sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Verity isn’t expecting to feel awkward with Nate, or to meet a handsome young physician’s assistant who makes her laugh.

And then there is the mystery of her mother’s death 15 years before. Verity is shocked to find that both her mother and aunt by marriage are buried in graves that lie inside ornate iron cages, but outside the hallowed ground of the cemetery. Both young women died on the same day, and no one seems to know anything about the mysterious illness that struck them. Are the cages there because the women were accused of witchcraft, or could it have something to do with rumors of long-lost gold, stashed away during the Revolutionary War?

Verity believes the answer must exist in the memories of townspeople or hidden in her mother’s journals. But as her investigations lead her deeper into the past, she finds herself face-to-face with present-day danger.

Author Dianne Salerni once found two real caged graves in the town of Catawissa. Although she never found out why the graves were caged, she was inspired to create this appealing romantic mystery. But who knows? Perhaps, like Verity, the author might still discover an answer to the riddle.

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