Published by HQN Books on July 25th 2017
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Grayson Blake and his brother, Devlin have returned to Honey ridge to convert a historic grist mill into a restaurant. While in town they rent rooms at the Peach Orchard Inn which happens to be co-owned by a beautiful woman, Valery Carter, who happened to be Grayson’s teenage crush. Valery was a gifted dancer who enchanted him when he was younger and he finds that she still enchants him to this day. As Grayson and Valery become re-acquainted, it is obvious that Valery has secrets as she becomes distant and withdrawn when Grayson gets too close.
Valery has her secrets and is deeply troubled by them. She has a deep regret that she can’t get past and self-medicates her pain and turmoil with bourbon. As she gets closer to Grayson she begins to think of a future which might include happiness if she can just make peace with the past. When sheet music is found which contains hidden messages, they work together to discover the secrets of the past. To complicate matters, a skeleton is found during the excavation of the mill. A skeleton which also holds secrets from the past. Secrets that wont stay buried for long.
This book is not just about Grayson and Valery. This book is also about the previous owners of the mill – the Portland Family. The Portland Family were slave owners and their home was also once used as a hospital for Confederate Soldiers. We meet Benjamin (Ben), Patience, Tandy, Lizzy, Charlotte, and Johnny to name a few. I found their stories to be just as engaging and interesting. Benjamin wants to find his childhood friend, Tandy – a slave who he has a close personal relationship with. He promised Tandy he would find him after he was sold and he wont stop until he finds his friend. Like the present story-line, this story-line is also full of secrets which are waiting to be discovered.
I enjoyed how this book effortlessly both story-lines were told. The headings with location and time helped to know which time frame was being told. I also liked how Lem, a man who has been living at the mill holds the answers to the secrets of both past and present day. This is a book about love, secrets, hope, starting over, forgiveness and family. This book is a romance but it is also historical fiction. I liked the elements in the past dealing with slavery, emancipation, spying during the civil war, music and family secrets. In the present day the characters are dealing with addiction, career, love, forgiveness, loss and hope. Nothing in this book is graphic or elicit so it should appeal to most readers. The pacing was spot on – nothing felt rushed or dismissed. This is my first time reading this Author but it will not be my last.
I received a copy of this book from Harlequin and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.