I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win this super Giveaway!
House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)
Hardcover, 336 pages
A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.
Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.
Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?
Cassandra Mitchell is the great-granddaughter of Percy and Celeste Mitchell who built the gorgeous Battersea Bluffs mansion in Whale Rock, Massachusetts, Cape Cod where she now lives alone. She is 37 years old and tenaciously clings to the family Victorian despite its history, local folklore, and apparent supernatural experiences.
The author sets up a time warp storyline that begins with the events that set the stage for the tragic deaths of her great-grandparents. There is an apparent curse that has followed them from England and has followed generations of their male descendants. Cassie has weathered a disastrous marriage and impending divorce and her scoundrel ex pretty much spent every dime he could lay his hands on before he split. She is presently facing foreclosure and looking at the possibility of having to ask her older and geographically estranged sister for another loan. She refuses the idea of selling.
Not without some form of income, she does what she can to bring in food money though she inherited an artistic gift from her mother which she has been too depressed to exercise. Sinking deeper into the funk that has enveloped her in the situation, she meets a young couple, Ashley and Vince, on her property, accompanied by a German Shepherd, and impressed with them and taken by the moment invite them to stay with her for a while in exchange for their work on the carriage house.
Ms. Marion flips both chronological timelines as she brings in further details of Cassie’s family, both current and 80 years ago. Chapter headings clearly tell in which timeline the narrative is heading and it doesn’t take long to get into the rhythm. It is Cassie’s belief that her great-grandparents frequently visit her, signaling their presence by a distinctly pleasant odor, depending on the situation.
The couple suddenly disappears without explanation which sets off a chain of investigations that begins with local law enforcement and extends to the FBI. There is an attraction to the FBI agent, and Cassie appears to be in full rebound mode. The romance of Cassie and her suitors weaves in and out of the well-plotted story adding tension to the already increasing pressure to find the kids and confirm their well-being.
She is consumed with the problem of figuring out what happened to the kids after they’ve nearly completed the remodel of her carriage house and made a place in her heart. She flits between responsible and irresponsible as she gleans little clues to follow and discovers she didn’t know them, really at all. Not where they came from, not where they may have gone or what happened to them. Happy with having the couple around, they had created in her the urge to paint again and she is facing a large gallery showing by a friend and local art gallery owner who had previously handled some of her mother’s paintings.
I had a little difficulty getting into the well-developed protagonist’s shoes. She has that artist’s aura about her, tormented but talented. Headstrong and smart, she seemed to make less than informed decisions, while craftily planning her next move toward solving the mystery of the couple. The dog, Whistler, has become as much a part of her life as did his owners and she is happy to care for him, as he is now protecting her.
I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley for this book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a mystery, supernatural or paranormal qualities, thriller and suspense, and strong women sleuths.
Sign up for your chance to win (1) GRAND PRIZE – One $50 Barnes & Noble gift card Two signed hardcover copies of House of Ashes (one for the winner and one for a friend) Two signed paperback copies of The Fool’s Truth (one for the winner and one for a friend) Plus two book bags (one for the winner and one for the friend) (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway
An author of fiction, Loretta Marion’s writing bridges the genres of mystery and suspense and women’s fiction, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.
Loretta is a true bibliophile and has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, was a twisty and suspenseful mystery with whispers of romance. Her newest novel, HOUSE OF ASHES – A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, is the first in a series published by Crooked Lane Books.
Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross). (www.LorettaMarion.com)
Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!
November 1 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
November 1 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 2 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
November 2 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 3 – fundinmental – REVIEW
November 3 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
November 4 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 5 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 5 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
November 6 – Valerie’s Musings – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 7 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
November 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
November 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 9 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 9 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
November 10 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
November 10 – Curling Up by the Fire – REVIEW
Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this supernatural mystery!
©2018 V Williams