Read a full summary of The Hawthorne Legacy, book #2 in Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Inheritance Games series. This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Hawthorne Legacy, then you are in the right place!
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Jennifer Lynn Barnes
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Hawthorne Legacy?
The Hawthorne Legacy begins one week after The Inheritance Games finishes. Avery Grambs and Jameson Hawthorne are talking in the tunnels underneath Hawthorne House. Frustrated they have not been able to solve the mystery of Toby Hawthorne, the youngest son of Tobias Hawthorne, Sr. He is believed to have died twenty years ago after a tragic vacation to his private island with friends. The bodies of Toby’s friends were found; his was not.
Avery believes Toby is “Harry,” the homeless man with whom she used to play checkers in a Connecticut park. Avery and Jameson make a friendly wager to motivate them into working harder to find the answers to the Toby mystery once and for all. If Jameson solves the mystery, Avery will forgive him for his “lapse of judgement” after they decoded the Black Wood. (He suddenly dropped all interest in her after finding out she wasn’t chosen to be Tobias’ heir because she was truly special.) If Avery wins, Jameson has to forget they ever kissed and never try to charm her into kissing him again.
Avery now owns a pro football team and is forced to attend a game in her private suite and hobnob with VIP’s. As she drives up to the stadium, she spots her deadbeat father, Ricky Grambs, in the crowd. She doesn’t talk to him. Later Libby, Avery’s older sister, tries to convince Avery that Ricky isn’t interested in her newfound wealth; he just wants to reconnect with her. Avery doesn’t buy it.
At school, Avery finds some surprises in her locker: a photo from an article about Ricky Grambs’ appearance at the stadium and a pile of small papers with comments from the article’s readers about Avery. Many of them are threatening, even violent. When Avery tells her bodyguard about the incident, he tells her about The List, a group of names of people who are deemed possible security threats to Avery. Ricky is on the list as is Skye Hawthorne—the mother of Jameson, Grayson, Xander, and Nash—who tried to murder Avery in The Inheritance Games.
Back at Hawthorne House, Avery, Jameson, and Xander all have the same idea to break into the wing where Toby lived, which has been bricked up for twenty years. Avery finds a homemade cipher disk—a wheel used to generate secret codes—inside a clock. Xander discovers a secret compartment under Toby’s bed that has been inscribed with lines from a poem called “A Poison Tree” by William Blake.
Later, Avery realizes the poem is a clue, which leads her and Jameson to search the legal books in Toby’s library, where they find a code. They use the cipher disk to reveal an unfinished poem written by Toby. To finish it, they use a black light to uncover a secret diary Toby kept on the walls of his room. It reveals Toby discovered he was secretly adopted. Avery also recognizes Toby’s handwriting; it matches the signature her father scrawled on her birth certificate. If Toby is her birth father, the fact that Tobias Hawthorne left his fortune to Avery suddenly makes sense.
Jameson and Avery decide to work together again. They decide to reexamine an older version of Tobias Hawthorne’s will. Then they discover four of the charities to which Tobias wanted to give money to upon his death had to do with the three young men and one young woman who were killed on the trip they took twenty years ago with Toby. They also seem to point to the previously unknown fathers of Skye Hawthorne’s four sons—Nash, Grayson, Jameson, and Alexander—all of whom have last names for first names. A visit to Skye confirms this as well as the fact that she is now sleeping with Ricky Grambs. Skye threatens Avery by saying it isn’t too late for Skye to have another baby, a child who would be able to inherit Tobias’ fortune.
Alisa Ortego, Avery’s lawyer, has a phone delivered to Maxine “Max” Liu, Avery’s BFF from Connecticut. Alisa advises Avery to confide in Max, not the Hawthorne brothers. Avery calls Max, and they reconnect. Later, Max surprises Avery by coming to stay at Hawthorne House.
While Jameson and Grayson are in Arizona looking into the charity connected with Grayson’s new-found biological father, Xander tells Avery he believes Toby and the three friends who went to the island with him—and subsequently died—were all recovering drug addicts who met while receiving treatment at Camden House, one of the charities listed in Tobias’ will. Meanwhile, Jameson and Grayson meet with Grayson’s biological father, who accuses Toby of setting the fire on Hawthorne Island and Tobias of paying big bucks to keep the police quiet about it.
Avery remembers a section of Tobias’ will referring to Skye’s inheritance and talking about a compass and true north. She realizes it’s a clue pointing to Tobias’ vacation home in the Colorado mountains, which is named True North. Avery, along with Max, Libby, Bex, Thea, all four Hawthorne brothers, Alisa, and Avery’s security team, travel there. They find a message in a hidden room between Skye and Zara’s bedrooms that indicates the sisters had a terrible fight when they were much younger. A photograph of the sisters with a mystery man leads to the discovery of a love triangle, a betrayal, and the identity of Nash Hawthorne’s biological father. The teens also find a blank sheet of paper they believe contains a hidden message; in order to decode it, they will need Tobias’ wedding ring.
While in Colorado, Avery and Jameson kiss in the hot tub. They agree to a relationship that means nothing, with no strings attached. The appearance of a stranger in the woods interrupts their make out session. Avery’s security team insists she return to Hawthorne House for her own safety.
Tobias left his wedding ring to Zara in his will, so the teens secretly search her suite to find it. They are caught by Zara, who tells them she will let them look at the ring for five minutes if they give her five million dollars. Instead, they ask Nan, the Hawthorne brothers’ great-grandmother, if she will let them have Tobias’ dead wife’s wedding ring to offer Zara in trade. Nan agrees. Avery notices both rings have numerical inscriptions on them. The teens find out the numbers are coordinates that point to another of Tobias’ vacation homes, this one in Costa Rica.
Meanwhile, Libby and Nash are in Connecticut trying to locate “Harry.” They do not find him, but they do encounter another homeless man who gives them a note from “Harry” to Avery, which says: STOP LOOKING.
While Avery, Max, Jameson, and Grayson are bowling, Xander comes in to tell them his theory that Bex’s mother—who is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin, Hawthorne House’s long-time caretakers—is actually Toby’s birth mother. Avery confronts Mrs. Laughlin with the theory. She acknowledges it is true. When Avery tells her she believes Toby is her father, Mrs. Laughlin—who has despised Avery up to this point—finally embraces her, realizing Avery could be her great-granddaughter.
Because Skye and Ricky are offering themselves as a tantalizing interview package, Alisa hastily arranges to buy them out and offer up Avery and Grayson instead. Despite instructions to keep it cool, Grayson gets angry while being interviewed, and Avery almost blurts out her suspicion that Toby is her father. To stop her, Grayson kisses her—hard—an action caught by all the video cameras. Avery is confused because it doesn’t feel like an innocent kiss and the two of them are only supposed to be friends.
Libby and Nash fly to Costa Rica, where they meet with Nash’s birth father, who is the caretaker of Tobias’ home there. Jake Nash gives them a vial of purple powder they use to reveal the secret message written on the paper found in Colorado. It is a note from Tobias that says he has always known Toby didn’t die on Hawthorne Island and that he had been actively looking for his missing son for years. The letter directs them to a safe-deposit box that contains papers relating to the search, including the official police report from the incident.
A list of locations of where Toby had been tracked to sounds familiar to Avery; they correspond with the postcards her mother kept. Avery suddenly realizes they probably contain messages written in invisible ink. The messages reveal a relationship between Toby and Avery’s mother. They also show Avery’s mother’s real name is Hannah. References to Kaylie Rooney—the young woman who was killed on Hawthorne Island on a vacation with Toby—indicate Hannah was Kaylie’s sister. Avery finds out the Rooneys are notorious drug dealers and want nothing to do with Avery.
When the police report is retrieved from the safe-deposit box, Avery learns the house on Hawthorne Island was soaked in gas by Toby. Lightning struck, accidentally lighting the whole place on fire. By traveling to Hawthorne Island, she also learns Toby was badly injured in the fire and nursed back to health by Hannah, with whom he fell in love. As she’s getting on a plane to go home, a bomb explodes, landing Avery in a coma for a week, although she has no resulting injuries. Ricky and Skye are put in prison for planting the bomb, although it’s later revealed they didn’t do it and Sheffield Grayson had the bomb planted.
Alisa tells Avery the result of her DNA test: Avery really is Ricky Grambs’ daughter. Toby Hawthorne is NOT her biological father.
At a knock, Avery opens the secret passageway in her room, expecting Jameson to be on the other side. It’s Thea, who leads her into a trap. Thea explains Bex is being held prisoner, so Thea had no choice. Mellie, a new maid at Hawthorne House, knocks Avery out with chloroform. When she comes to, she is tied to a chair in a storage room that smells strongly of gasoline. Sheffield Grayson, Grayson’s biological father, tells her he’s trapped her in order to flush out Toby, whom he believes is Avery’s biological father and whom he blames for his nephew’s death on Hawthorne Island. Although Avery denies it, Sheffield says he has a DNA test to prove it.
It is revealed Mellie’s DNA was actually used for the test; her half-sister, Eve, is Toby’s real biological daughter, not Avery. Mellie explains she and her brother Eli, a security guard on Avery’s detail, have been working at Hawthorne House and with Sheffield in order to flush out Toby, to insist he provide for Eve. They never wanted to hurt Avery or anyone else. Toby, who has appeared in the storage room, agrees Eve will be taken care of.
How did The Hawthorne Legacy end?
While Toby distracts Sheffield, Avery is able to loosen her restraints. Mellie shoots and kills Sheffield.
Toby tells Avery although she’s not his biological daughter, he’s always thought of her as his child. He informs her he was there the night Avery was born and he named her. Although Avery begs Toby to stay, he says that he can’t. His punishment for what happened on Hawthorne Island is permanent exile.
In the last scene, Avery and Jameson are together on a rooftop. Avery kisses him, letting him know she has chosen him to love.
There you go! That’s what happened in The Hawthorne Legacy. We hope you enjoyed this The Hawthorne Legacy summary with spoilers.
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