“Trust My Heart” by Carol J. Post

Carol J. Post

Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible.

The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

Post puts North Carolina’s best foot forward in this new, fairytale romance.  With the North Carolina mountains creating both a vivid and exciting backdrop for Trust My Heart, there’s always a new adventure around the corner.  I love the way that Post exploited the natural beauty of the mountains and pulled the setting so strongly into the story.

Jami was an exciting character, too.  Her friendliness and courage in face of adversity make her my favorite kind of leading lady.  Grant’s not such a bad leading man, though, either.  With a few glaring flaws but the sincerity and drive to overcome them, I appreciate his willingness to make major life changes.

The supporting cast of characters really made the story.  Bernie’s antics were just hilarious, and Jami’s friends made great back-up people.  I’d love to read their stories, too.  With such colorful characters in the background and a strong setting, Trust My Heart puts me in mind of the Mitford books.  If you love Jan Karon’s work, definitely give Trust My Heart a try.

Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.


 

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special-events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s résumé reads as if she hasn’t yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love of writing. She started as a child composing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles for religious and children’s publications. Now she pens fun, fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book award and selected as an RT Top Pick. When Carol isn’t writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. She also plays the piano and sings with her music-minister husband. Their two grown daughters and their grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all her nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

 
 

Join Carol in celebrating the release of Trust My Heart by entering to win her $75 Cozy Cash Giveaway.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of Trust My Heart
  • A $75 Visa cash card
  • A basket full of goodies made in North Carolina to keep you cozy in the cooler fall weather

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 23. The winner will be announced November 28 on Carol’s blog.

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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Father Christmas Books by Robin Jones Gunn

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Recently I had the chance to read not one, but three books by a favorite author.  How excited was I?  I got to read these three books:

In FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson’s search for her father leads her unexpectedly to London with only a few feeble clues as to who he might be. Immediately welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her, and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can’t bear to leave.

In ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda’s mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

A year-and-a-half ago, Anna flew from Minnesota to Carlton Heath to attend the wedding of her cousin, Ian, to an American woman named Miranda. The beautiful event ended with Anna receiving an unexpected, unforgettable kiss from groomsman Peter. Now Anna is delighted to be invited back for Christmas with her family, dreams of romance dancing in her head. But when she finally sees him again, Peter insists his only interest in Anna is as a friend. Anna is hurt, and becomes even more confused when Peter takes her on a romantic tour of London. Is Anna’s heart misleading her, or is there a reason Peter is denying what he feels?

Robin Jones Gunn knocked it out of the park with the Father Christmas stories.  They’ll fill the most Bah, humbug reader with hope of love this Christmas season.  The three stories are connected by setting and a few background characters, and they provide a delightful backdrop that will keep the reader coming back for that alone.  I fell in love with the town of Carlton Heath and would love to see such a place myself – and I’ve never really wished to visit England. 

Miranda and Anna, the American female leads, are sweet.  While their personalities aren’t alike, the way that they’re welcomed by the residents of Carlton Heath and the way that they respond are somehow both sweet and innocent, even when the circumstances of the story aren’t.  I love the wisdom that Gunn imbues into every element of the story and the faith journey that she sends her characters on.

If you step back and think about it, the odds of any part of these stories coming true is extremely unlikely, but Gunn writes with such sweet conviction that they are completely believable.  I loved the impending, suspenseful romance of each story and the life lessons that are contained in each. 

The Father Christmas books are moving to the top of my favorite Christmas stories list.   I love the serious view of love with the lighthearted touches scattered throughout the story and will reread these over and over.  The biggest downfall is that I don’t have cable, because I would have loved to watch the Father Christmas movie that debuted recently.  If you have the chance, check it out!

I received a free copy of these books from FaithWords.  The opinions expressed are my own.

“The Cottage” by Michael Phillips

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Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga with The Cottage

When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that “the Cottage” is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.

The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman–and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place–and the character of its most prominent citizen–that soon gets under her skin.

Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whale’s Reef. David’s cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni’s hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni’s very life in danger.

 

I enjoyed Michael Phillips’ first Secrets of the Shetlands novel, but he knocked it out of the park with The Cottage!  I couldn’t put this sequel down.  With the cast established and the location well painted, Phillips jumps right in with the suspense and intrigue.

I loved the faith journey that Loni went on in this story.  She learns and grows a great deal, not only about herself, but also about what she believes.  I like her take on friendships, on relationships, and her willingness to do the right thing even when it’s hard.  She’s a loveable main character and I was fascinated with her persona.

While the island itself was beautiful, it was the culture that caught my attention in this story.  I loved the history of the island, the way that the interactions between various people affected people’s attitudes and circumstances.  The flipping between the old stories and the new ones are some of my favorite vehicles for sharing that kind of history, and Phillips did an excellent job of using it here.

I couldn’t put The Cottage down.  I read it as fast as possible, in a single sitting, in a single day.  I couldn’t wait to find out the outcome of the island’s economy, Loni’s inheritance, and the love that blooms throughout its pages.  If you’re a fan of deep and meaningful stories with real people and exciting cultures, you should definitely read The Cottage.

I received a free copy of this book.  The opinions are my own.

“An Amish Family Christmas” by Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true . . .

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually . . . perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

Shelley Shepard Gray couldn’t have written a better ending for the Charmed Amish Life series if she tried.  It’s the perfect blend of resolution and sweet love, while staying true to the tone of the other books.  Gray’s written a fantastic, realistic series about Amish people dealing with difficult personal issues – it’s unlike any other I’ve read.  I appreciate that perspective and have enjoyed reading all four, but this final one might be my favorite.

I’ve probably felt that way about each book in turn, but loved the main characters of this one.  Julia is sweet but somewhat jaded from past hurts, and Levi is trying hard to stand strong and alone.  They’re my very favorite kind of people:  survivors. 

I hate that the series is coming to an end.  The Charmed Amish Life series is made up of the best Amish books I’ve read in a long time, and An Amish Family Christmas is the perfect ending to it.  While I wish the Kinsinger stories would continue, at least it’s ending on a sugary sweet, snowy Christmas note.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

 
 
I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

“Christian’s Hope” by Ervin R. Stutzman

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When Christian Hochstetler returns to the Amish after seven years in captivity, he finds that many things have shifted.

Captured as a child during the French and Indian War, Christian has spent much of his life among Native Americans, who cared for him and taught him their ways. Now that Christian is home, his father wants him to settle back into their predictable Amish life of farming, and Christian‘s budding friendship with Orpha Rupp beckons him to stay as well.

Yet Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family—who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?

Christian‘s Hope tells the story of the younger brother of Joseph and son of Jacob, whom readers have come to love in the first two books in the Return to Northkill series. Based on actual events and written by a descendant of the Hochstetler family, Christian‘s Hope brings the sweeping epic of the Return to Northkill series to a soul-stirring end.

Christian’s Hope is the most fascinating Amish coming-of-age book I’ve ever read!  Setting an Amish story in the past is rare, and this one, happening just after the French and Indian War, is even more unusual.  I loved the time period, the clear descriptions of life, gender roles, and household tools.  Stutzman excels at bringing the setting to life.

That’s not all, though.  The time of the French and Indian War was a hotbed of drama for many, and for others, stereotypes abounded.  While others were focused more solely on survival, those on the frontier often bore the brunt of isolated attacks.  This position comes through loud and clear in Christian’s Hope, as does the mix of attitudes and reactions to during the war’s aftermath.  Stutzman does a fantastic job of detailing each position while keeping the story realistic and interesting.  This was my favorite part – the way that Stutzman depicts the gradual change in Christian’s attitude to one of growth and maturity.

This book stands alone, but it’s so interesting that I can’t wait to go back to read the first two in the series.  Based on a true story and written by a descendant, I definitely want to know more about this event in history.  I think you will, too.

Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Ervin R. Stutzman is author of Jacob’s Choice, Joseph’s Dilemma, Tobias of the Amish, and Emma, A Widow Among the Amish. Born into an Amish home in Kalona, Iowa, Stutzman based the Return to Northkill series on the life of his ancestor, Jacob Hochstetler. He has been featured on TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“A Sister’s Wish” by Shelley Shepard Gray

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In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

 

The third installment of Gray’s Charmed Life series has released, and it’s another hard-hitting page-turner!  I love the opposite characters of Amelia and Simon.  Amelia is trusting and innocent; Simon is jaded and loving, and somehow the two of them are perfect for each other.

I loved Simon’s story.  The crux of his relationship with Amelia is his wild past – is it really in the past, or is it still relevant to Simon today?  Should it be allowed to affect his relationship with Amelia?  How much of one’s past should one share with a potential suitor?  These issues are relevant to many people, not just Amish or those in Simon’s situation, and Amelia’s take on it was refreshing. 

Many Amish stories are happy, romantic stories, where the biggest problems involve money or whether or not to stay within the faith community.  Gray’s Charmed Life series is quite different, though:  it’s much deeper and quite edgy.  While I’m sorry that even fictional characters have the abusive background that Simon did, the questions it raises about how we of faith treat those in such situations are important.  So, too, are those about how we interact with people who have rough histories. 

These questions are important, and that’s why Gray’s books are so fantastic.  Not only is the story compelling and the characters friendly, but the book inspires quiet introspection that will evolve into personal growth.

Keep writing, Mrs. Gray.

I received a free copy of this book.

“Waves of Mercy” by Lynn Austin

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Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Waves of Mercy completely enthralled me – I couldn’t put it down until I’d turned the last page!  Author Lynn Austin excels at sweeping the reader right along with the main characters in her story, and the same is true for Waves of Mercy

Austin makes use of  my favorite writing technique in this new story – parallel stories that happen at different points in history. I love the way that she builds the theme of mercy and God’s goodness by layering it as details are revealed with each story.  The final twist at the end was not unexpected, but the details were gratifying to read, and I couldn’t stop reading until I got there – I had to know what would happen to the characters I’d fallen in love with.

That’s not to say that I love the ending – because I don’t.  Austin leaves the ending somewhat open, without clear resolution for one of the major issues relating to the main characters, and I prefer to have those details all wrapped up with neat bows.  Real life rarely works like that, however, and perhaps she’ll write a sequel that will answer those open questions?  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Waves of Mercy is based on real history – the settlement of Holland, Michigan, by a group of Dutch immigrants searching for religious freedom in the early 1800s.  Their story closely mirrors that of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts, though later, and makes for a fascinating backdrop to this story.  I loved learning about what these people endured.

It might sound as if reading about persecution and strife would be depressing, and that angle isn’t exactly a tea party – but the best aspect of the story is the quiet, steady faith that runs through each page.  While the main characters are often struggling, there’s always someone who’s helping them along.  Those people act both as mentors to the characters and examples to us all, even though some of the situations are fictional.  I appreciated both the scripture references used for teaching and the wisdom and advice scattered throughout the pages.  The messages of hope and God’s enduring goodness are inspirational and resonate in one’s mind long after the last page is turned.

Waves of Mercy is the kind of book that you put on your shelf and reread over and over.  If fiction with a strong message of ‘hope’ is the kind of book you like, you’ll definitely want to read this one.

Want to know more?  See what Lynn Austin has to say about Waves of Mercy:

 What inspired you to write this particular story?

I grew up in the area of New York State that was originally owned and settled by the Dutch, and I visited Holland, MI for the first time when I attended Hope College. I was immediately impressed by how proud the community was of their faith and their Dutch heritage. My husband grew up in Holland, so when we decided to move back here two years ago, I began researching Holland’s history to see if it would make a good novel. It intrigued me to learn that the first Dutch settlers came here in 1846 for religious freedom after suffering persecution in the Netherlands. Since that’s true of so many other immigrant peoples over the years, I knew the story would resonate with many readers. I was very surprised to learn how much hardship these early settlers suffered in the process of founding this community. If nothing else, their story taught me not to take our religious freedom or the American Dream for granted.

What is your favorite quote from the book?

It’s actually a promise from Jesus that the characters often refer to: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them . . . I give them eternal life . . . and no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

What do you hope readers will come away with after finishing Waves?

I hope they see what a close relationship with God is really like, and will learn to trust Him through the hard times and praise Him in all circumstances.

Is it possible to get a small clue, say, the year of the setting on your current work in progress?

It’s about two wealthy sisters who live in Chicago in the late 1800s. They love to travel the world and seek adventure.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“A Love Transformed” by Tracie Peterson

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When Clara Vesper’s husband, Adolph, dies suddenly, Clara is stunned–but not grief-stricken. Her marriage to Adolph had been arranged, their primary interaction revolving around the sapphire jewelry Clara designed and Adolph produced and sold. Widowed and penniless, with two small children, Clara decides to return to her aunt and uncle’s ranch in Montana, the only place she has ever been happy.

Curtis Billingham, injured in a sapphire mine collapse, is recuperating at the ranch of his friends, Paul and Madeline Sersland. But when the Serslands’ niece returns from New York City, Curtis curses both his broken body and his broken past. Clara, the love of his life, has come back to him, but he is no longer worthy of her love.

Clara’s brother-in-law Otto Vesper, Adolph’s business partner, fears that the loss of Clara’s design skills will doom the company’s prospects. Following her to Montana, Otto is prepared to do whatever it takes to get Clara to return with him to New York.

As Clara fights for love and freedom, a dangerous secret in her late husband’s life comes to light, threatening everyone she loves.

A Love Transformed is brilliant!  I love the angle played off the Vesper brothers – I don’t want to give anything away – but it definitely adds a layer of suspense and intrigue to the story.  Having information about Adolph’s true feelings come to light slowly throughout the book also paints him as a deeper, more complete individual than one might otherwise surmise.

Clara is a very complex character herself.  With a complicated marriage, a long-lost love, and personal pain carried by the case, how she has managed to smile and go about her way eludes me – but her story is fascinating, and like her husband’s, information slides to the reader slowly.

Set as the United States enters World War I, I’ve read few other books set in this time or that deal with the US joining the Allied forces, but that makes the plot even thicker.  The contrast between serene sheep ranch and war-excited New York City adds unique elements to the story that are rarely seen in other books.

Tracie Peterson always captures the unusual and the dramatic in her books, and A Love Transformed is no exception.  She carries the theme of gemstones into the story by making Clara a jewelry designer but changes the setting completely from the previous two stories, but any Peterson fan will be just as enthralled with this third offering as with the first two.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Where Hope Prevails” by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

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When Beth Thatcher returns to Coal Valley, she has much to be excited about. She anticipates Jarrick’s proposal of marriage and perhaps a spring wedding. The mine is expanding, and there are more schoolchildren than ever.

But the town’s rapid growth brings many challenges. A second teacher is assigned, and Beth finds herself going head-to-head with a very different philosophy of education–one that dismisses religion and rejects God. Fearful for the children who sit under the influence of Robert Harris Hughes, Beth struggles to know how to respond.

At the same time, Beth wonders if Jarrick is considering a position at her father’s company simply for her sake. Should she admit her feelings on the matter? Or keep silent and allow Jarrick to make up his own mind?

From Janette Oke comes the end of the Return to the Canadian West series.  Like the Love Comes Softly series, Oke has followed the Thatcher family through two generations and continued the adventure into the Canadian wilds.  Like her Aunt Elizabeth, Beth needs to decide whether she will remain in the West or return to ‘civilization.’ 

Oke writes with her signature sweet style.  The story flows smoothly, with the primary action being spiritual and emotional in nature.  Molly continues to provide wise counsel for Beth, and Beth struggles against change in the valley that she loves so dearly.

I would have loved to read about Beth sharing her concerns for their future with Jack.  He shared about his premarital counseling, and they discussed other important issues regarding their marriage, but I would have loved reading this important conversation; but even when they resolved this issue, the conversation was brief and vague.

Beyond that, I loved the wise view of marriage shared throughout the story, and from many different perspectives.  This deep and mature look at marriage is rare in today’s society, and I appreciate that these lessons are shared throughout the story.

Love Comes Softly was the first Christian story I read, and I was about ten at the time.  My daughter has been devouring Oke’s books for the past year, and she can’t wait to read this one.  I love that Oke writes stories that are both timeless in nature, sweet enough for children to read, and yet full of wisdom that will steer them well in the coming years.

I hate that this is the last Thatcher book.  I hope that the Okes have something new in the works.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“The Things We Knew” by Catherine West

A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.

Catherine West’s story The Things We Knew is more than a roll through family history – it’s the slow, suspenseful investigation of suppressed memories about a suspicious death that devastated a family.  Each family member has moved on but one, and that one is left holding the luggage of responsibility for the present and confusion over the past.  That one wants to find peace with the past and find hope for the future but memory gaps leave her bending under the weight of her burdens.

Her siblings are no different.  While Lynnette is trying to deal with the past, her siblings are all fleeing from it – but they’re just as captive as she is.  Their stories are widely varied and uniqe, and I like the way that West incorporates a broad range of the human condition in the members of this one family.

Lynnette has kept her faith through her struggles, and her journey is inspiring.  Her siblings’ journeys, although all very different, each provide lessons of their own throughout the story, and therein lies the genius of the book.

While Lynnette is a main character, her siblings have strong supporting roles, but no two characters are alike.  This variance keeps the reader turning pages and makes it possible for many different readers to connect emotionally with someone in the story.  I personally liked Lynnette’s determination to find the truth, but I can see my daughter in Ryan and my husband in Nick.  I think the Carlisle siblings will appeal to a widely varied audience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way that West dispenses the family information.  The Carlisles are full of secrets, and by dribbling them out slowly, often as Lynnette discovers them, the reader is kept thirsting for more.

I don’t think the cover does the book justice.  It’s very simple, and for some reason the title font made me think it was going to be an emotionally-dramatic family story; and maybe that’s not too far off, but with the suspicion of murder, international music stars, alcohol and drug addictions, secret trysts, and controlling parents, it’s so much more than that.  The Things We Knew may not quality for romantic suspense, exactly, but it’s close; it’s definitely a summer must-read.

Click here to read other reviews in this blog hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.

 
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.