~ About the Book ~
Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Time Slip
Release date: 21 November 2017
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
W12943 Foster Hill Road
Kaine turned onto the gravel drive, and the woods opened to a clearing. A hill sloped with rocky boulders, enormous oak trees, and pasture grasses waving in the spring breeze.
“Oh, my landy-love.” Kaine used her grandfather’s substitute cussword.
“What? What!” Leah’s eagerness clashed with the disappointment that slammed into Kaine’s body.
“I gotta go.” Kaine hit the end button on her phone and tossed it on the passenger seat. Video-chatting with Leah, in this moment, would not end well. So much for God’s intervention and leading. Kaine had officially taken a dive off the deep end of sanity. No wonder the San Diego police didn’t believe her when she claimed her husband had been murdered and the killer was stalking her. It was too . . . nuts. She was nuts.
Cavernous windows opened in a silent scream on the face of the Gothic house that tilted on the crest of Foster Hill. Its gables towered as if to mock her, and balconies curved in permanent, evil grins. The front door gaped open with a black shadow, evidence that somewhere, at some time, it had been opened and never closed. Abandoned.
The tires crunched on the gravel as her car rolled up the hill, slowly, as if it didn’t want to get any closer. Her reticence was reflected in the speed. This was more than a little fixer-upper. This was a demolish-and-start-over! The pictures she’d seen on the realty site had been taken from creative angles to downplay the state of the house.
The clapboard siding was hanging lopsidedly on the east gable, but seemed somewhat intact on the other gable. She could hear the real estate agent in her mind: Snap a pic of that nicer gable! The brick foundation looked as though an earthquake had rendered its mortar ineffective. The house summoned old imaginings of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. Kaine had read the book in high school and never forgotten it. Haunted was too cliché a word for this house, its deed now branded with her signature. Even ghosts would have abandoned the home years ago.
~ Review ~
Oh, my word! This was just delicious—the kind of story that sends prickles up the back of your neck and causes random shivers to wash across your shoulders. There will be some readers who won’t want to read this at night unless they have their own knight in shining armour waiting and ready to slay their dragons (or at least snoring beside them in bed!) I’m not a Gothic fan per se, but I’m discovering that I quite enjoy novels that recreate the feeling of a gothic novel without moving into horror or the paranormal. Think a little more Gothic than Jane Eyre but a fair way short of Frankenstein!
In this case we have two heroines a century apart, whose lives are weighted by death. For Ivy, in 1906, it was the tragic death of her beloved brother when they were children, and now the death of an unknown young woman whom she has named ‘Gabriella.’ The need to know what happened to this woman only intensifies when her father’s medical examination indicates she gave birth no more than three weeks ago, but finding out what happened to this woman and and her child poses a life-threatening challenge that unfolds in the shadows of the abandoned house on Foster Hill.
In the present, Kaine is struggling following the loss of her husband two years ago in a car accident that she believes was actually murder. She also believes she is being stalked by whoever was responsible for her husband’s death, but without hard evidence, the Police put it down to a form of PTSD and close the case. She’s become the kind of broken woman she used to help as a social worker and is desperate for a fresh start, but the house on Foster Hill is not exactly what she had in mind, especially when it appears her stalker has followed her.
Jaime Jo Wright’s writing was absolutely perfect for this story, for the most part setting the tone unobtrusively, but also knowing when to deliver fantastic imagery like “Cavernous windows opened in a silent scream on the face of the Gothic house” and “balconies curved in permanent, evil grins“.
I also loved the way in which Ivy’s and Kaine’s stories often paralleled each other at the point of transition. For example, at the end of one chapter, we leave Ivy at the climax of an intense scene where she has fallen down the staircase, ending with the sentence, “The blackness of Foster Hill House engulfed her.” The next chapter switches to Kaine and begins “Kaine stood in the parlor of the dilapidated house, staring up the staircase that disappeared into the second floor.” Cue random shiver!
I feel like I could go on for pages about this novel, but I’ll try and limit myself to one more thing. This isn’t just a story about literal life and death. Yes, that’s a big part of it; both Ivy and Kaine are in physical danger at various points in the story. But the bigger outcome for them was coming to a point where they were able to move from living under the shadow that others’ deaths had cast over their lives, to embracing life, hope, and healing. That’s what really made this story satisfying for me.
This is a story chock-full of mystery, suspense, and several hair-raising moments, with just the right amount of romance as a sweetener. (I know I haven’t mentioned Joel or Grant, but I loved them, too.) If you love romantic suspense, I highly recommend checking this story out.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.