At a housing construction site on a hot July afternoon, a worker unexpectedly digs up some human bones. This not only causes the Antietam Creek Project to come a rude halt, but also creates an absolute furor in the small town community of Woodsboro which already holds that part of the land in dread because of the haunted pond called Simon’s Hole. When the bones are found to be more than 5000 years old, Lana Campbell, a widower with a young son and a transplanted city lawyer, happily slaps a court order to stop further construction on behalf of the Historical Preservation Society. First to arrive on the scene is the famous archeologist Dr. Callie Dunbrook, and her arrival heralds the coming of many other university people, including renowned anthropologist and Callie’s irritating but irresistible ex-husband, Jake Graystone.
Forced by circumstances to work together, Callie and Jake slip into their usual work-mode camaraderie and set aside their mutual differences temporarily, intent on discovering what the bones of these people long gone have to say. They make a formidable team when the construction company owner and his crew of rednecks decide to make life at Woodsboro hell for them. But surprises are the order of the day. Little does Callie know that her passion for finding out the secrets of the past is about to become a lot more personal. An unknown and distraught woman shows up at her hotel room late one night and with a single statement virtually turns Callie’s life upside down. In these trying times, Jake gradually becomes an independent and troubled Callie's best support, and soon their romance begins to rekindle. Danger dogs the construction site and the people involved in it start dying, one by one. Is someone out to sabotage the work of the archeologists, or are there supernatural forces at work on these hallowed and sometimes haunted grounds?
Nora Roberts' writing skills are beyond a doubt superb. Birthright exemplifies and showcases her versatility. The story, which has a painful tragedy at its center, is very complex and emotional. Roberts manages to capture the full angst of all the characters involved without being maudlin. Callie's dilemma and conflicting emotions are appropriate and endear her to the readers. Jake, the hero, is the clichéd alpha male, but his macho tendencies are at times funny and charming. The verbal battles between them as well as their romantic interludes spice up the story immeasurably. Some charming secondary romance stories add depth, and many secondary characters become integral to the complex plot. The mystery is one of discovery, archeologically as well as personally. The many complicated facets of the narrative are beautifully woven together, making this a very worthwhile read.