by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Release Date: September 28, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A sinister house looming over the sea ...
He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.
But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.
It's going to be a long, hot winter.
This is a modern day gothic romance set in the midst of winter on an island off the coast of Maine. Being an introvert, the idea of living on somewhat isolated island intrigues me, until you realize the issues you face ordering groceries, a lack of medical care, etc. So this book may have cured me of that little inkling of interest. I absolutely loved the old gothic novel though, I could totally picture the dark and gloomy monstrosity in my head.
The heroine in this story, Annie, was definitely unique. I have never read a heroine who was a ventriloquist. While I admired Annie's ability to connect with children through her puppets, the fact that the puppets were always talking in her head creeped me out a little. Though I did get a chuckle out of the ways she needled Theo with her creepy ghost moans.
I wasn't sure how Theo was going to turn out as a hero... especially when we learned about the things Annie endured while growing up with the twins on the island. He was totally redeemed for me though and I ended really liking him a lot, more so than Annie. In fact, once I was on Team Theo, I tended to get aggravated at Annie for the way she was behaving.
This book is a little more than just contemporary romance - there is also an element of mystery as it becomes apparent pretty quickly that someone does not want Annie on the island. This aspect of the plot was well done, I did not have an inkling of the real culprit until almost the final reveal.
I received an free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is my first read by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but I think I will definitely read more. I like that she is writing outside of the new adult genre so you don't have all the drama and angst to deal with.
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Susan Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and mother of two grown sons.
Instead of kitchen cabinets, rough shelves held stoneware bowls and crocks. Tall, freestanding dark wood cupboards rose on each side of a dull black industrial-size AGA stove. A stone farmhouse sink held a messy stack of dirty dishes. Copper stockpots and saucepans¾not shiny and polished, but dented and worn¾hung above a long, scarred wooden prep table designed to chop off chicken heads, butcher mutton chops, or whip up a syllabub for his lordship’s dinner.
The kitchen had to be a renovation, but what kind of renovation regressed two centuries. And why?
Run! Crumpet shrieked. Something’s very wrong here!
Whenever Crumpet got hysterical, Annie counted on Dilly’s no-nonsense manner to provide perspective, but Dilly remained silent, and not even Scamp could come up with a wisecrack.
“Mr. Shaw?” Annie’s voice lacked its normal powers of projection.
When there was no reply, she moved deeper into the kitchen, leaving wet tracks on the stone floor. But no way was she taking off her boots. If she had to run, she wasn’t doing it in socks. “Will?”
Not a sound.
She passed the pantry, crossed a narrow back hallway, detoured around the dining room, and stepped through the arched entry into the foyer. Only the dimmest gray light penetrated the six square panes above the front door. The heavy mahogany staircase still led to a landing with a murky stained-glass window, but the staircase carpet was now a depressing maroon instead of the multicolored floral from the past. The furniture bore a dusty film, and a cobweb hung in the corner. The walls had been paneled over in heavy, dark wood, and the seascape paintings had been replaced with gloomy oil portraits of prosperous men and women in nineteenth-century dress, none of whom could possibly have been Elliott Harp’s Irish peasant ancestors. All that was missing to make the entryway even more depressing was a suit of armor and a stuffed raven.
She heard footsteps above her and moved closer to the staircase. “Mr. Shaw? It’s Annie Hewitt. The door was open, so I let myself in.” She looked up. “I’m going to need¾” The words died on her tongue.
The master of the house stood at the top of the stairs.