‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon

jmcm twpSTORY: The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

REVIEW: Sara Harrison Shea lived in West Hall, Vermont.  In 1908, she was savagely murdered.  She was only 31.  The story goes that she was married and the mother of two deceased children.  The loss of her children affected her deeply.  Her son passed away when he was a baby.  However, when at age 9, her daughter, Gertie, was found dead at the bottom of a well, her sanity was pushed over the edge.  People say that Sara’s ghost is still with us.

Ruthie Washburne now lives in Sara’s house with her Mom and her little sister.  Her father passed away recently and her Mom has always been very strict with her.  Her parents have preferred to live their lives in a  private way and have even eschewed many modern necessities such as the internet.  While Ruthie doesn’t believe the ghost stories about Sara, she is very wary of the thick woods behind the house.  When one day her mother vanishes, she and her sister, aided by her boyfriend, begin a search for her. They find a diary of Sara’s and other items in the house that takes them deeper into a story that opens a world of fear that terrifies Ruthie.

The tale of Sara reaches out even further to touch the lives of Katherine and Gary.  They had lost their young son to leukemia a few years back and are grief stricken.  Gary seems to be the one having the most difficult time with the loss.  When one day he fails to return home, Katherine finds that he has been killed in an auto accident in an an area unknown to her – West Hall, Vermont.  Katherine is determined to uncover the mystery of why he was there.

All of these lives weave together to find all the pieces of Sara’s diary and uncover the truth that has been hidden for such a long time.

This story was magnificent.  It switches back and forth from present day to 1908 as the reader learns new clues that solves this mystery in an edge-of-the-seat way.  I highly recommend it!

*Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.

 

‘An Affair with Mr. Kennedy’ by Jillian Stone

STORY: London, 1887. Part stoic gentleman, part fearless     Yard man, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is an enigma of the first order. For years, the memory of a deadly bombing at King’s Cross has haunted the brilliant Scotland Yard detective. His investigation has zeroed in on a ring of aristocratic rebels whose bloody campaign for Irish revolution is terrorizing the city. When he discovers one of the treacherous lords is acquainted with his free-spirited new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud, his inquiry pulls him unexpectedly close to the heart of the conspiracy and into the arms of a most intriguing lady.

And Cassie is no Victorian prude. An Impressionist painter with very modern ideas about life and love, she is eager for a romantic escapade that is daring and discreet. She sets her sights on her dour but handsome landlord, but after she learns their meeting was not purely accidental, she hardly has a chance to forgive her lover before their passionate affair catapults them both into a perilous adventure.

REVIEW: The above blurb perfectly summarizes the gist of the story, and gives you just the right amount of ‘bate’ to lure you in, and once you start reading, you’re sucked into the story that is perfectly balanced between the pace and plot, but always and without a doubt character driven to a point that a reader is living the emotions of the characters and feeling the danger around them.

I was thoroughly engrossed and fascinated with this unique romance. And let me tell you, this was a romance in every sense of that word. Even though our heroine comes from a self-admitted ‘bohemian’ family, she is a woman who knows exactly who she is and what she wants. No excuses, no apologies. I think that’s what attracts our hero to her, her ‘individuality’ was unique, and she was a stunner, too! For a man who has always taken himself and his job seriously, he desperately needed someone of Cassie’s caliber to take that ‘bit of starch’ out of his collar and expose him for the charmer and romantic that he really was. A scene in which they walk through the door after a weekend with her family, she’s going through a pile of messages, (mostly his, handing it to him), was so sweet and romantic, it will melt your heart…

“’…I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to receive messages for me. I hope you don’t mind.’ He leaned close and stole a fleeting kiss to her neck, just under the earlobe.

Aroused from a stimulating carriage ride home, her body tingled from his brief caress. ‘It would seem the neighborly thing to do.’

A grand new flower arrangement had been placed on the round pedestal table in the middle of the reception hall. As Zeno opened one communiqué after another, she gravitated toward the stunning new bouquet. Opening the hand written envelope, she removed a gilt-edged card.

For a glorious weekend. And might I further express my appreciation with a kiss placed just beneath your ear?

All my affection,

          Zac”

While this suspenseful romance set in Victorian era is chock full of historical detail so well written that you will see the London streets, women riding bicycles in their bloomers, railway and even a roadster in your mind’s eye, make no mistake, its sensuality will take your breath away.

Everything in this story played out like a movie, from the sophisticated, fun and witty dialogue to the supporting characters that were vivid and three-dimensional and intriguing and entertaining as much as our main protagonists. I would love to know more about Scarlet aka Kitty Matthews, his brothel informant and Scotland Yard blokes, Rafe Lewis and Flynn Rhys. What cool dudes they were! And what about his ‘sleuth in training’ housekeeper, Alma Woolsley? She was great! This story will not only appeal to us hardcore romance lovers, but to all of you ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and even ‘Dr. Who’ fans.

Ms. Jillian Stone wrote a novel that is different from anything I’ve read and its uniqueness makes it memorable. Way to go, Ms. Stone! Listen well, my little Bookworms, if you’re looking for a novel that will get your heart rate up with its sensuality, action and sweet romance, all at the same time, this is the book for you as well! I will be eagerly awaiting the next one, and the next…