The Secret of Dunhaven Castle (A Cate Kensie Mystery Book 1) by Nellie H Steele – a #BookReview #mystery

“A new spin on the classic ghost story”

A shared review with the CE.

Book Blurb:

A heartwarming journey of discovery

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleStill reeling after the sudden death of her parents, Dr. Catherine Kensie is struggling to pursue her career as a history professor at a small, midwestern college. With no known family, other than her beloved dog, Riley, Cate is astonished when a stranger appears on her doorstep to tell her that she has inherited a castle in Scotland and an antique gold watch accompanied by a mysterious note from a distant relative. When the will stipulates that she must live on the estate, Cate finds the promise of exploring her past impossible to decline. With nothing to hold her back and a desperate desire to surround herself with a familial connection, Cate and Riley say goodbye to their hometown and make the trek across the pond to their new Scottish home.

Soon after arriving, Cate finds castle life to be less than a fairy tale, suspecting something may be amiss in her new home. Between strange events and peculiar manifestations, Cate begins to question her own sanity when it appears that she is the only one experiencing these bizarre incidents. She attempts to make sense of what is happening as she struggles to explain the increasingly unexplainable. With a shroud of mystery enveloping her and Riley, will Cate discover the secret of Dunhaven Castle? 

My Thoughts

Nothing stirs the imagination like a centuries-old castle, wherever it is. In this case, I just know that the castle is old enough to be through generations of the MacKenzies and located in Scotland.

Dr. Catherine Kensie (Cate) is still struggling for tenure having been teaching at a small midwestern college in Aberdeen for several years. But about the time she is denied, again, she is introduced to an attorney who claims she has inherited a castle in Dunhaven, being the only remaining relative of the castle’s owner. She will inherit the title of the Countess of Dunhavenshire. Yahoo!

It’s a no-brainer. She’ll close out her apartment, box up what she’ll move, prepare her little dog, Riley, and fly across the pond to claim her inheritance. The castle is as presented in the pictures. It’s huge, gorgeous, and comes with perks–including a special watch, only bequeathed in person with instruction–and quirky manifestations.

This narrative becomes quite the enjoyable little romp into the Scottish countryside along with a storyline that builds the suspense and a protagonist that must have inherited that Scottish stubborn streak as she’s like a dog with a bone. Cate just keeps picking at it until she begins to unravel the mystery. She is young and energetic and the historian in her is bound to discover the truth and expose the story–all of them. From the beginning, she feels an affinity for the castle–like she belongs there–she’s part of it. I’m sure the reader will continue to see her develop as this series grows.

There are only a few characters so they are easy to keep track of and they all lend interest, even while not yet fully fleshed. I’m reserving judgment of Jack. He’s…okay, but not terribly adventurous.  The well-plotted and easy-paced storyline keeps interest and engagement through the conclusion. The reveal, however, is correctly guessed long before the climax, but still comes with a satisfied grin and interest in seeing where the author will take this one next.

The author has a simple writing style, at times overly minute to minute descriptive. It’s tell not show, but a fun premise and entertaining. Book One, now is your chance to get in on the beginning of what promises to be a fun series. Book 2 Murder at Dunhaven Castle just released and I suspect will ramp up the thriller-suspense aspect considerably.

I was contacted by the author with a request for review in exchange of a gifted copy of Book One and can recommend as the beginning of a promising series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleWill a Doctorate in History guarantee a good future and life result? Cate Kensie is teaching in a small-town college with all of the drama of a small town. Tenured professors play games with new hires and throw them the dregs and bones of the teaching year. The future is not guaranteed and Cate is a slave to the whims of her superiors. Her pay is low and her workload high. The coveted letter of a tenure track is nothing more than another setback. Maybe next year they will consider giving her the opening she desires.

An unusual visit from a British solicitor presents Cate with a dilemma. Should she stick with her dream or follow the foreign path to her future. She has no family to talk to, her parents having died in a tragic accident.  Should she abandon her dream and embark on a totally different path in a foreign country. The tenure rejection that is another slap in the face helps her decision.

She has no idea why the solicitor has ferreted her out. She has never known anyone in Scotland and certainly cannot understand why they would have even considered her. She and her small dog Riley will be uprooted if she accepts the offer. Firstly, she has to have a DNA test to prove that she is even related to the person who has identified her as a possible relative. She submits to the test and is found to be a direct relative of the person, Lady Gertrude MacKenzie, who has named her in her will.

The estate she inherits is large and well maintained. Scotland is an entirely different environment for a young American lady and her dog. Her future is set in a rather remote location. This is often a dream for some young and poor people as they grow up: What if I were royalty, how would my future be?

The story shifts to a lonely life in a Scottish castle near the town of Dunhaven. She is the only heir to the fortune and she is given an old timepiece with the strange inscription “Always keep an eye on your time.”

Getting used to a large castle and grounds takes more than a little time. Included in the inheritance is a family of caretakers and groundskeepers. Weeks follow to discover all that the inheritance entails. It is a fun read to accompany Cate on her adventure. I enjoyed seeing the Scottish countryside and lochs from her point of view. As she engages in the search for her roots you begin to enjoy her youthful optimism.

This whole story is well-plotted and pushes your imagination as you read. As I child I dreamed of such an event, but reality was always at the back of my mind. It is fun to relive that fantasy through this authors’ eyes. It is a great escapist novel. 4.5/5 stars – CE Williams

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 Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Supernatural Mysteries
Publisher: A Novel Idea Publishing LLC
ISBN: 1951582020
ASIN: B07Z9HS887
Print Length: 316 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: 4.25 of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Nellie H Steele - authorThe Author: Nellie H. Steele lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with her family and her many fur-babies. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys teaching Statistics at a local university or watching her dogs and cats play in the yard.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Going Back Portal by Connie Lacy for Sage’s Reading Room #BookReview

I am especially delighted today to provide a review for you on my blog in the Reading Room for The Going Back Portal by Connie Lacy on the Sage’s Blog Tours.

Sage's Blog Tours - Reading Room

Book Details

Title: The Going Back Portal by Connie Lacy

Genre: Native American Literature, Time Travel Romance
Publisher: Wild Falls Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0999608479
  • ISBN-13:978-0999608470
  • ASIN: B07N7MW7HW

Print Length: 328 pages

Publish Date: January 28, 2019

Book Blurb

The past is a dangerous place in this fast-paced time travel novel…Kathryn Spears is a skeptical producer for a TV investigative news team. So when her grandmother claims a Cherokee Indian woman is living on a neighboring farm, she dismisses it as early Alzheimer’s. Because, obviously, there is no farm nearby. Not in the present anyway. But when she follows Nana’s lead, Kathryn is transported back in time to the year 1840 where she finds a young Cherokee woman left behind when her family marched west on the Trail of Tears. 

Forest Water is ensnared in a perilous struggle to keep her ancestral lands against a violent white man who claims the farm, and then claims her as well. Desperate to help her new friend, Kathryn becomes entangled in a battle between good and evil with much higher stakes than she imagines.

Each of these young women falls in love with a man from her own time, but there are threats, both seen and unseen, that could cost them their lives.

My Review

The Going Back Portal by Connie LacyTime travel is such a whimsical thought–haven’t we all given it some consideration? This novel would give you that ride back in time, but more than that, the storyline picks up in 1840 at the time the Trail of Tears takes place, a sad indictment of the government against the native American population of the Cherokee.

Kathryn Spears is a producer for the local TV investigative news team. Her grandmother, Nana informs her that she has a new neighbor on her cottage property, a Cherokee woman with a baby. Because of her infirmity, her mother insists she would not be capable of making the march that her family is facing and she arranges a “marriage” with a white man who will help protect the homeland of her ancestors. Unfortunately, though Isham becomes a beloved husband and father to their baby girl, his unsavory, vicious brother forces his way in and Nana witnesses some of the resulting brutality. She begs Kathryn for help in getting police involvement.

Kathryn, however, is aware that Nana has been slipping and often confuses events or people. She suspects early Alzheimer’s but will accompany Nana to try and find the source of her delusions. They weren’t delusions though and she suddenly finds herself on Nana’s property more than two centuries previous with Forest Water who is struggling to survive the cruelty of Jonah.

The author draws a parallel to the subject scenario of both timelines, that of the sexual predator in her current investigation and Forest Water before her. There are a number of arguments presented with the idea of the grave consequences of messing with history. Is it set in stone? Can it be changed without changing every generation succeeding the event?

The narrative is so cleverly laid out in teasing diary entries that it’s easy to get swept up in the idea of passing through a time portal with the hopes of saving the young woman. Many native American beliefs, customs, and language are shared, the hardships of the time described, and tension mounts as Kathryn continues to make ill-informed decisions (which continued to frustrate me). In the meantime, the romantic interest she discovered through the translation of Forest Water’s diary puts her in unfavorable light when her co-worker suspects domestic abuse with Eric while actually stemming from encounters in 1840.

The twists continue in this well-plotted and fast-paced story, Kathryn battling with her current life situation and that of trying to help a situation far removed from her ability to resolve. Nana had insisted she possessed Cherokee blood and the timeline might indicate a great, great ancestor, in which case, is she messing with her own life as well? Some amazing arguments presented here from the conundrum of whether or not humanitarian issues have been made better or remain the same.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and Sage’s Book Tours and greatly appreciate the opportunity for the read and review. Refreshingly different, raising more moral questions than can be solved, but for the magical time while reading the book allowing the fantasy that there are unexplainable events to which we may never have the answers. Maybe time travel is one. Sage's Blog Tours

Thanks to Sage’s Book Tours and her Reading Room for the opportunity to read and review this most unusual and delightful time travel odyssey! Please suspend your disbelief, enjoy the vision, and check out this one for yourself.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Connie Lacy - authorAbout The Author: [Amazon] Connie Lacy worked for many years as a radio reporter and news anchor, with a couple of brief forays into TV news along the way.  Her experience as a journalist shows up in some of her novels.  She also dabbled in acting in college and community theater. She uses those experiences in some of her books as well.

[Goodreads] Her novels are fast-paced stories featuring young women facing serious challenges set against the backdrop of some thorny issues. She writes time travel, magical realism, climate fiction and historical fiction – all with a dollop of romance.

Growing up, she lived in Japan and Okinawa where her Army dad was stationed. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing. She and her husband live in Atlanta.

©2019 V Williams Blog author