Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Your daughter went missing twenty years ago. Now, she’s finally back. You thought she had returned a few times in the past, and your husband tells you she’s not the one, but you feel it in your bones.
Now, what will you do to keep her home?
Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.
Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.
Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.
Herb says Myra has drowned herself with Charlotte, where the beach is rocky and the tide tinged gray-yellow, its crest effervescent. At the inn, wind batters the wooden shingles like the ocean thrumming the shore at high tide. The squall sends sand whipping through the air. The pier empties of people, except for the lone fishermen who wear rubber boots and heavy yellow raincoats, casting their lines in turbid water. Myra and Herb are ensconced in the inn, wrapped in sweaters and crocheted afghan blankets. Occasional guests trickle in, but not often. People visit the Oregon coast during summer.
Myra doesn’t take vacations during the off season, no matter how many empty winters pass. Charlotte knows her mother is waiting. She lived for the scent of the ocean, for the lacquer of salt on her skin. The crabs hidden under mounds of sand and the starfish in the tide pools enchanted Myra’s youngest child. Myra supposes this is why Charlotte was so attracted to the mystery of the deep, dark sea. The waves sweep away an entire pool of living things, but with the next tide, they begin again.
And so Myra is not particularly surprised when her dead daughter walks in the door.
Myra studies the sawdust-covered floor of the musty inn, thinking they should sweep it and install shiny new wood. She spends her free time leafing through the glossy pages of decorating magazines, considering all the possibilities for the place. It should be more modern, like the bigger hotels in Rocky Shores. There are bed and breakfasts with assorted coffees and fresh baked goods; there are vacation rental homes and cabins, some of which come equipped with pools and fitness centers. And the Barkley Inn is an entire mile from the open shore.
When Myra’s parents were alive, people shuffled in wearing flip-flops and shorts in the summer, eager for slabs of marbled steak served for cheap on Fridays. Peanut shells and loose sand scattered the floor. Back then, poets read their work on Saturday afternoons. Musicians strummed their guitars and sang with their husky, melodic voices on Saturday nights. Candle-filled Mason jars adorned the tables. Ripples of lavender incense hung sweet and thick in the air.
They have personal touches that have gone back decades—luxurious bath towels, chocolates on the pillows, chilled champagne in the honeymoon suite. But the curtains are a drab shade of olive-green, and antique topaz candelabras cast dim light over the lobby. In the sixties, they were eclectic; now they’re just creepy. Perhaps Myra could get one of those latte machines people like nowadays.
On this particular afternoon, Herb hovers behind her as she considers the flooring. She pretends not to notice his wry smile, how he watches her. Age spots dot his thin skin; his eyes are set beneath deep wrinkles, but they glow with a tenderness that has never changed. He will always be her Herb.
“Whatcha up to, honey?”
“Do you think we should get rid of the sawdust? I’m thinking deep mahogany floors.”
He says with a playful smile, “Does it really matter what I want?”
Myra rolls her eyes. “I’m just thinking of ideas to spruce the place up—”
A vehicle brakes hard, its screech penetrating the thick storm windows.
Herb cringes. “Good lord. Someone needs a brake job.”
Myra peers around the curtains. Headlights dip and rise over bumps in the gravel. Rain has streaked the windows, leaving tracks through the winter grime.
“A guest?” she says, thinking: no one has stopped by in weeks. Who wants to go to the bayside town and get drenched? Perhaps someone is traveling through. Maybe they need directions.
A rusty pickup truck with Washington state plates jerks into a spot.
“Great,” mutters Herb. “Here comes trouble.”
A stranger with inky hair climbs out of the car. It falls in thick, unkempt chunks around her face. “This one’s gonna have a fake ID,” she tells Herb. “A really fake one.” Myra isn’t one to turn away a guest. Everyone has a story—and if they’ve got information about Charlotte, they might not be exactly on the right side of the law. They don’t give every guest a room. But they’ve got a reputation for turning a blind eye to a fake ID, for accepting cash without a credit card as collateral. The dyed hair, the ancient truck. This is a woman running from a man. Myra has seen it before. She could never turn a woman out on the street because she doesn’t have a credit card, or she’s changed her name. Besides, it’s a bed and breakfast—rich folks with good credit tend to stay at five-star resorts. They can’t be overly picky.
Herb says, “Shoulda dumped that vehicle a thousand miles ago.”
“Maybe she couldn’t,” Myra says, watching.
The stranger ushers a little boy out of the backseat. She begins to trudge toward them, a duffel bag tossed over her shoulder, clutching the child’s hand. The woman stops sharply and turns back to the vehicle. She swipes the underside of the wheel with her palm.
Herb fixes his gaze on Myra. “Don’t go soft on me, honey. That girl’s running from something, and it’s probably trouble.”
“Can’t be too experienced.” She nods to the truck. The girl won’t find a tracking device stuck in a wheel well. It’s on the damn GPS.
Herb shakes his head, placing his thick knuckled hand on hers. She shoves it away, breath caught in her throat. Hanging his head, he shuffles toward the office. Myra knows what he is thinking. She could climb inside Herb’s chest and feel the rhythm of his heart. As much as anyone can know another person, Myra knows Herb.
As the sound of his footsteps recedes, she looks back to the window. The girl is too far away for Myra to make out her features. She slips into her vinyl chair and waits for their nebulous figures to sharpen. Leaning on her elbows, Myra breathes slowly, listening to the rain drum on the roof, run down the metal storm drain, and trickle onto the ground. The damp inn is cozy compared to the biting Pacific Northwest rain.
The bells on the door jingle as the woman pushes it open, water dripping from her clothing. The noxious scent of her fresh dye job wafts inside. She leans over the boy and whispers in his ear. He shoves his thumb in his mouth and looks back at his mother questioningly, and she nudges him toward the front desk. “It’s okay,” she says. “Let’s go up to the nice lady.”
The woman’s voice is eerily familiar. Myra can’t quite place it. Has she come through town before?
Myra glances at the stranger’s face as inconspicuously as possible, but she notices how this woman moves, the tilt of her chin, the cadence of her voice as she speaks to the boy—it is so familiar that a guttural pain shoots through her bones, her gut, every last piece of her. The hair may be black, but the eyes are the same. Her breath quickens; the room spins. She leans against the counter, reeling. “My god.” The words swirl off her tongue before she can catch them.
“Yes?” says the woman, who is not exactly a stranger, yet somehow strange. She backs toward the door. “I’m sorry. I guess you’re full—”
“No,” says Myra. “You look like a girl I once knew, that’s all.”
“We need a room. But if you’re full, we can keep driving.” She pulls the boy closer.
Myra realizes how bizarre she must sound. She ducks beneath the counter. The woman looks just like Charlotte. Those eyes.
Is she Charlotte?
No. Not again.
Herb is already convinced she’s insane. He’s probably right in his assessment.
She emerges from beneath the desk and tosses a hand towel to the woman. “You’re soaked to the bone. So is your son.”
“I’m sorry if I sounded stressed. I’m traveling alone with Theo.” The stranger’s voice wavers. Rain beads on the boy’s apple-shaped cheeks like teardrops. His threadbare pants graze his ankles.
“What’s your name?”
The woman hesitates, dropping her driver’s license on the counter. “Elizabeth Lark.”
“That’s a beautiful name,” she murmurs. Myra likes it when people choose lovely, poetic false identities for themselves. The lark is such a lyrical bird. Sometimes people come in with names like Moonstone or Pippin. Too much, she thinks. Unique is not what you’re going for when you are on the run.
Myra studies the driver’s license as she boots up the computer. It’s well done as far as fake IDs go. The little wheel on the computer whirls to the beat of her heart. “I’m sorry. It’s thinking.”
Elizabeth pulls her wet jacket around her thin frame, shivering. Her skin is a milky-gray color, and her lips, pale blue.
“You are about the same age as our daughter.” Her voice grows husky. She clears her throat and types the information into the computer. “We lost her years ago.”
Elizabeth avoids Myra’s eyes. The girl already knows. Maybe she has come to see about Charlotte’s ghost. Myra’s chest is raw and tender. A snake coils in her stomach, lithe and threatening to escape.
“Anyway, it’s done thinking.”
Elizabeth purses her lips and reaches for her driver’s license, knocking over Myra’s glass of water. The contents of her purse tumble behind the desk.
“Dammit, I’m sorry.” Elizabeth rushes toward the counter, stuffing papers and cards and cash back into the tattered bag.
That’s when Myra sees it.
A strand of silver is coiled against the green carpet. It could have been any silver necklace, really. But Myra would recognize the cracked edges of the half heart anywhere. Best Friends Forever. It was a gift from Charlotte to her sister, Gwen, the year before she disappeared. Myra picks up the necklace, locking eyes with the stranger, who holds the boy’s hand so hard her bony knuckles turn white. Myra turns it over and traces the initials with her finger.
CB. Charlotte Barkley.
“Where did you get this?” She steadies her voice.
The woman pulls herself to her feet, eyes wide. She takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. “It’s mine.”
Myra’s heart flutters. The snake is ready to pounce. Elizabeth Lark is not leaving, not until she explains the necklace. “Yours?”
“From long ago, yes.”
The world slows. Myra catches Elizabeth’s eyes. They are sapphire-blue, and the closer she looks, she more she is certain. They are Charlotte’s. Her little girl face has gone, and it is replaced by sharp cheekbones and an angular jaw. Elizabeth looks similar to Myra’s oldest daughter, Gwen. Her limbs go numb. The necklace slips from Myra’s fingers, landing in a soft pile on the floor.
“My daughter.” The word sticks to her tongue. “Charlotte.” Charlotte does not move. She is stuck in a different time. At this moment, Herb pads back into the lobby.
“What’s going on out here? Are you checking in?” He lifts his chin toward Charlotte.
“I don’t have any idea what she’s talking about.” The stranger’s face flushes.
Myra closes her eyes. Toddler Charlotte lays on her chest, knees curled up like a prawn, the light sweat from her cheek dewy and warm. Charlotte’s squeals as she races her wooden fire truck along the windowsills. Both of her girls would trample in and out, dripping sand and water all over the floor, covered in sticky treats from the ice-cream truck.
“Don’t track that water in the house, girls. Stop bringing that sticky stuff inside. Wash your hands!” She hears her own words and wishes she could swallow them. Take them back.
Twenty summers missed. Twenty summers of eclipsed sunshine, of icy heat. These guests wander in with nothing but their fake identities to cover secrets they cannot face, to investigate rumors of a haunted inn. Twenty years of drifters washed up from the frothy shores, looking for a room, dirty and chafed by the combination of sand and rain and heartbreak.
“My god, I have loved you. I have been here, waiting. I never stopped waiting.”
Charlotte grips Theo’s hand.
Herb takes Myra’s shoulders, meets her eyes. He whispers, “This is not Charlotte.”
Of course he says this. This has happened before. But this time it’s true.
“Look at her, Herb. She looks just like Gwen.”
Charlotte stares at them. “I have no idea what to say.”
Herb releases her shoulders. He knows when to recede. Myra and Herb dance like this, intricate and poised. They know when to dip forward, when to swing sideways. He knows where he can touch her and what is too tender. And they move gently because their breakable parts have shifted throughout the years, like plates of the earth, scraping against one another deep beneath the surface.
She presses the necklace in Herb’s palm. “Look at the initials, honey.”
Herb clenches his jaw. His eyes glisten. The jowls on his neck shiver. “Where did you get this?” His voice thickens with emotion.
The wind howls and bristles the door; the tick of the clock over the fireplace throbs in her mind. Warmth spreads through Myra’s chest. It relaxes in her stomach, heavy but silent.
“Charlotte’s home. This time she really is.”
Myra has a million questions. What has happened to her daughter? Who has had her all these years? And how did she find her way home?
Charlotte was only eight. Just a baby, really. And now, she stands before her mother, tears catching in her sunken cheeks.
Sweat beads on Myra’s forehead. Tentacles grip her neck. She is drowning, deep in the ocean, where they said Charlotte died. Except Charlotte is here, right in front of them.
Herb steps closer to their daughter, scanning her from head to toe. He turns back to Myra, breathless.
Charlotte is alive. Wondrously, exquisitely alive.
Washington State—One Week Ago
The necklace slips through Elizabeth’s fingers and lands in her palm. She inspects the cracked edges of the half heart and turns it over, focusing on the initials carved into the metal. She drops it into her purse.
The cabin reeks of dank mold. Elizabeth peeks out the window, hoping no one will see her, though there is no logical reason for her fear. The cabin is situated in a thicket of deep wood, where lime-green lichen weeps from the trees like gnome hats. Tufts of moss unfurl through the walls where the wood has rotted, while the foundation crumbles precariously beneath their feet. It is as tiny as a dollhouse dropped amid the lush, expansive forest, surrounded by frozen creeks and giant boulders. The moonlight seeps through a lattice of soft fir branches, and the cabin casts a shadow onto the snow. It is swallowed by the forest ahead. On each side of the shadow, crystals of snow glitter like a smattering of diamonds.
No one could find this cabin. No one away from the forest knows they are alive.
“Elizabeth?” Her husband’s gravelly voice startles her.
She turns back to her son, who snuggles with his blue blanket and stuffed giraffe on the couch, fast asleep. Elizabeth smiles at Theo and clicks off the television. She slides to the boy’s level and perches on the balls of her feet, tucking the blanket under his chin. The cold mountain air seeps into the poorly insulated cabin. His hair tumbles over his eyes, but she won’t cut it. A memory of Peter shaving her son’s luscious ringlets churns inside her. Elizabeth pushes her fist into her stomach and twirls Theo’s stray hair.
“Are you coming, or what?” Peter yells.
She steels herself for the next few moments.
“Coming.” She speaks just loud enough for him to hear her. This is the last time her voice will be low. She squeezes her hands into tight fists.
“Honey, my back is aching. Can you bring me a drink and my pills?”
This is the moment she has waited for. The man doesn’t pay the heating bill while he’s out of town. And now he wants to be taken care of.
Elizabeth can arrange this.
She swings open the hollow-core door softly, taking care not to let it bang against the wall. He lays in bed, quiet and vulnerable, covered with the only heavy comforter in the house. The curtains are drawn tight. “I’ll have your drink and pills in a second. You want food?”
“No. Just the pills. Please, honey.”
She hates the word, so thick and sweet off his tongue. She shudders, remembering the tang of his hot breath against her neck.
“I’m sorry about yesterday.” He groans in pain. “I can’t believe how slippery that ice is. It’s like someone dumped water all over the porch.”
Her lips curl into a smile. She pours three fingers of Jack Daniels into a tumbler—funny they can afford this, and his Vicodin, when she and Theo haven’t been to the doctor, not ever. They haven’t left this cabin in years, except to exchange pleasantries with the homesteaders who have cleared trees and built little farms that sprawl down the mountain. They have their own peculiarities, she thinks, because they aren’t alarmed that Elizabeth lives in this falling down shack with a five-year-old.
Still, Peter says to be friendly.
“But don’t get too close. I’m watching you.”
The threat hides beneath his words, like a rat scratching in a dark cabinet.
She drops a pill into the amber liquor, watching it billow into a thick, hazy cloud. And another. It is hypnotic. Venom fills her blood, lurid and dangerous. She swirls it with a teaspoon, and it clinks against the glass like the tick of a clock. She is numb, devoid of emotion, but she depends on this emptiness to survive. Pure instinct drives her down the crumbling hall. Holding her posture straight, she enters the bedroom.
“Here you go, babe.” Elizabeth helps him to a seated position. His warm body is sticky with sweat.
“Ahh, thank you. You are a goddess,” he says with a light smile.
Don’t believe him, don’t believe him. He will turn this on you and eventually kill you with his lies.
The whisky sloshes in the glass as she hands it to him. “Drink up.” She feigns cheer, but her voice shakes.
“Please don’t be afraid of me. I’m your husband. I’m sorry.” His eyes are pleading. And pathetic. “Is your arm okay?” Her flesh is mottled with purple finger marks.
She nods with a smile.
“I just don’t want to lose you.”
She and Theo have been trying to escape. And Peter’s relentless surveillance prevented them from contacting the nearby homesteaders without his looming presence. However, on one of his work trips, she and Theo walked a mile or so from the log cabin, until they came upon a farm. She got more than fresh eggs and a free-range chicken at the Hart’s place.
Mrs. Hart let her use the internet.
Theo played with the Hart woman’s children as she typed “domestic violence help” in the search engine. Alice Johnson’s name popped up first. She’d apparently been helping abuse victims for decades. Elizabeth sent her an e-mail, wrote down her phone number. But before Alice could respond, Peter rang the doorbell. She heard his voice booming from the front room and slammed the laptop shut. Trembling, she ushered Theo toward the foyer. He put his arm around her, patted Theo’s head, and said a sickeningly sweet goodbye to Mrs. Hart. “I was in the area,” he said. “I thought you’d appreciate a ride home.”
Once they got outside, he transformed back to the Peter she knew. With a sneer, he’d grabbed her by her thin shirt, digging his knuckles into her clavicle. He said, in cool, measured tone, “Mrs. Hart seems nice.”
It took month for Elizabeth to get another cell phone and make the call. And for weeks after that, they meticulously plotted their escape.
Peter cuts the water supply when he will be gone for more than forty-eight hours. She and Alice planned to wait for the faucet to shudder and spout, till only copper silt would vomit into the stained sink. But he’s become even less predictable. His back injury is an opportunity, perhaps the only one. They can’t wait for an out-of-town trip. One might never happen. She cannot predict what electrical line will short circuit within her husband next. There is nothing she can do right when it comes
to Peter, because what is right one moment is wrong the next. Every breath she takes is so cold it’s hot.
They have one shot.
I’m not the one who should be afraid. Not anymore, darling.
He slings back the drink with another pill. “Damn, that’s some strong shit.”
“You’ll feel better soon. Get some sleep.”
Peter leans back on the pillow, his eyes fluttering shut. How lovely it must be to be safe.
Safety is merely an illusion, a trick of the mind. It is never guaranteed.
She rushes back to her son and shoves the last six years of her life into a single duffel bag. Before waking Theo, she creeps back to the bedroom to make sure Peter is knocked out. He’s asleep, for sure. But his face is pasty. His olive complexion has turned yellowish, especially around his eyes. His lips are a bluish-gray color. Did she give him too much?
She tiptoes quietly toward him, afraid he’ll sit up in bed and pounce on her. He looks really bad. Elizabeth needed to immobilize him for an hour or two, not kill the man. Peter’s chest rises, ever so slightly. His neck rolls to the side with a labored breath.
Holy shit. Elizabeth runs to the living room, tears springing to her eyes. She shakes Theo awake.
“Don’t worry.” Elizabeth takes his cheeks in her palms. “He’s sleeping. We are going on an adventure together, just you and me.” She forces herself to smile, heart beating wildly in her chest. “Okay?”
A dubious look crawls across Theo’s face.
“He’s sleeping. I promise. But we must go now.”
“What if he wakes up?” Theo whispers.
“He won’t,” she replies.
“What if he finds us?”
“He won’t. Not this time. Let’s go.”
“Did you pack my card games, my checkers?”
“Yes. I wouldn’t forget those. Come on, now.”
“Are you sure he won’t wake up?”
“Pretty sure.” She taps his shoulder. “Enough questions.” Peter might never wake up again. She shoves her hand under the couch cushions, looking for his phone, but he keeps it hidden from her. Maybe she should go back in the bedroom and make sure he’s okay. She isn’t a murderer. Lord, what has she done?
Maybe Theo won’t remember this moment. He is five years old. Maybe he won’t remember Peter at all. Peter will wake up, confused as hell, once they are gone, she hopes. He can’t possibly be dead. She covers her face with her hands, trying not to cry. Theo has watched Peter hit her, has watched television shows where people aren’t typically living in a cabin without heat, and with little food. He’s five, and his understanding of the world is expanding, ballooning within their captivity. It’s getting harder to hide the truth from him. He asks questions; he’s curious about life outside the forest. And she finds herself snapping at him because she can’t give him what he needs.
They need to get down this mountain.
Although, deep within the folds of her brain, she realizes that Peter will never let them go. As long as he lives, she is beholden to him. Even once they escape, change their identities, and move far, far away, Peter will be somewhere.
Safety is merely an illusion, a trick of the mind. He will hunt them till his last breath. Maybe it’s best he take his last breath now. But still . . . She takes a tentative step toward the bedroom. Oh, shit. Should she check on him again? He could be dying. Should she call someone? They’d help her; they would save Peter.
No, she decides, it is not safe for her child here. There was no other choice but to incapacitate him. Right?
Fuck. They head for the door.
Elizabeth ushers Theo to the truck, dragging the duffel bag behind her. “Hurry,” she urges. “But don’t slip.” The frigid air whips against her skin. Gripping his hand tightly, she instructs Theo to dig the heels of his boots into the ice as he walks. The ground is slick; jagged rocks shine in the moonlight. She clicks the seatbelt over her son’s waist, hands trembling, and tosses the bag in the back. Her own seat is awkward.
It has been years since she has driven a vehicle.
She turns the key in the ignition, hits the gas. They slide on the ice, over thick tree roots, into swathes of evergreen trees. The metal truck scrapes against branches, and she hits every gear wrong. But she gathers her bearings. They travel down the mountain, past the Harts’, past more pockets of homesteaders with chickens and goats, and away from their captor—her husband, his father. She squirts the windshield with fluid and wipes away a layer of dried mud.
Elizabeth inhales deeply when they hit the main mountain road.
When Peter wakes, they will be long gone. She conjures images of all the possible states Alice might take her to. Someplace sunny, like California. Or a tiny Midwestern town with a big yard for Theo.
What if Peter doesn’t wake up? She remembers the odd angle of his neck, his shallow breaths. Is she running from Peter—or the police? Could she be charged with murder?
The thought speeds her own heartbeat up. Blood rushes through her capillaries like a broken dam.
Her son looks out the window, enthralled with the road ahead of them. The sunrise spreads over the mountain, clear and wide. Theo points out the window. “Beautiful,” he says.
“Beautiful,” she agrees.
“Where are we going?”
“We’re stopping at a friend’s house.” She has no cell phone, no GPS to direct her. Only this rusted old truck. She will ditch it when they arrive at Alice’s, get on a bus. Elizabeth laughs, deep and throaty. They turn off the main road, crunching through gravel, and up a windy hill to a little blue house.
Her chest bursts with excitement. “C’mon Theo. Let’s go meet Alice.”
She drags him a little too quickly, and the boy’s feet slip on the ice. “Whoops.” He giggles as she catches him by the back of his threadbare coat.
Alice is a stout woman, with copper-colored skin and gray-streaked hair. Her smile is empathetic and kind. Several women linger around the breakfast table, holding mugs of steaming hot coffee, the rich scent wafting through the air. A couple of children play in the living room. The space is tight, but it exudes warmth and compassion. A pang of sadness hits her in the chest. She and Theo cannot stay here. It is too dangerous. He could find her among these women. The house is too close to the cabin. Does Peter have friends? He must. What if someone she doesn’t recognize tries to find them? He could trail them, set a trap. Theo and Elizabeth must disappear.
And if she’s killed him—oh god, she hopes she hasn’t killed him—that’s murder, right? She didn’t technically need that dosage to knock him into oblivion. Her brain spins.
“All right girl, come in the back.” Alice turns to Theo. “Why don’t you play Legos with the other kids?”
He crouches around the box of red and blue and green blocks. A blonde-haired girl helps him stack them into a little building. She takes a deep breath, hope blossoming through her body.
Elizabeth follows Alice down a dark, narrow hallway and into a tiny room with a neatly made twin-sized bed. She rests on the soft blue bedspread as Alice rifles through the closet.
“All right. Here’s the plan. You’re gonna leave the truck and take one of mine.”
Elizabeth opens her mouth to protest. Alice holds a hand up. “Look, girl. You can’t take off in the man’s truck. They’ll find you. And even if you tell the cops what’s happened, Peter will kill you and Theo before they can prosecute him. I’ve seen it before.”
Elizabeth decides not to mention that Peter’s body might be turning cold as they speak. “But what about you? He’ll find the truck—”
Someone will find the truck anyway.
“I’m gonna get in the truck and ditch it twenty miles from here. But don’t you worry about that. You take my vehicle.” She tosses a key ring onto the bed.
“Alice, I can’t take a car from you.” She sighs, rubbing her aching forehead.
“You can pay me back someday. Till then, your life is at stake. Don’t think about the cheap-ass car I’m about to give you. It’s not registered in my name or anything.” She rolls her eyes. “Still, you need to ditch it once you cross into Oregon. You’ll be conspicuous with out-of-state plates.”
“Whose car is it, then?”
“Never mind that. Doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the cops can’t trace it to you or me. Just don’t get pulled over.”
Elizabeth is bone-tired. “All I care about is getting away from here.”
Alice plops on the bed beside Elizabeth. Her eyes are dark brown, and her lipstick reminds Elizabeth of a ripe plum. Alice takes her hands and squeezes them tightly. Teardrops drip down Elizabeth’s nose.
“It’s going to be okay,” she says.
“Promise?” says Elizabeth, feeling very young.
Alice smiles warmly. “I can’t promise anything. But you’re gonna do your best. I have a good feeling about you.”
She clears her throat. Back to business. Alice shuffles through a box of cards, takes a few, and tosses them on the bed. “I made these with the pictures you sent me from the Hart woman’s computer. You did what I told you about, wiping your search history, right? And you cleared the photos from the webcam?” “Yes. But you said a computer can never be fully wiped. That all the information is stored on the hard drive.” What if the police discover she contacted Alice on the internet? Her hands begin to shake. If he’s looking for her, the first place he’ll go is the Hart place.
“Oh sweetheart. All we want is to keep the Hart woman from snooping around. Do you really think Peter is going to report you missing? Let the cops search that dump he’s been keeping you in?”
Elizabeth nods. The log cabin is essentially a prison.
It is a prison.
“Where do you think you’ll go, Liza? As far as anyone is concerned, you don’t exist,” Peter had said, with a nonchalant shrug.
Elizabeth’s conviction grows. She will leave; she will take her boy far away, where he will never find them.
Unless she’s killed him. Then the police will search everywhere, including the Hart’s computer. Dammit! Why did she give him all those pills?
“All right. We’ve got three IDs here. One Oregon State driver’s license. One Social Security card, which is essentially worthless for applying for credit or a job. It’s just for show if someone doesn’t buy the driver’s license. Same with the passports,” she says, laughing. “That ain’t gonna get you out of the country if you plan to return. And I hear Tijuana isn’t a fun place to live.”
Elizabeth shoves the cards in her purse, beside the necklace.
“You’ve gotta be careful with fake IDs. Lots of people think giving a person a new first name is safest. To my mind, it’s risky. You’ve been called Elizabeth your entire life. You could not respond to a strange first name. Hell, I’ve heard of a woman who started to sign the wrong name on a job application. How do you turn back from that? ‘Sorry, it seems I’ve signed the wrong name?’ Nah.”
“Technically, I’ve been called Liza. A nickname my mom gave me because she loved Liza Minnelli . . . but I get a new last name?”
“Yup. You are no longer Elizabeth Briggs. Now, you are Elizabeth Lark.”
“I love it,” she says, smiling.
“Don’t get too attached. My work isn’t that authentic. We may have to change it again, if he comes after you, or someone else finds out.” Alice purses her lips, thinking. “For now, aim for jobs at small companies. Family owned. It’s not so much the name, as the Social Security number, which is completely fabricated. Make sure you avoid companies that are gonna do a damn background check.” She shakes her head. “That, we do not need.”
Elizabeth considers this. “Isn’t it strange that this pile of false IDs is no more fake than I am?”
Alice ignores the existential musing. “Next is the hair.” Alice reaches into a chest of drawers filled with boxes of hair dye, combs, and scissors. She points to the adjacent bathroom. “Welcome to my spa.”
Elizabeth settles into the chair, inspecting her gaunt face in the mirror. Alice works methodically, chopping her long, sand-colored hair to her shoulders. Elizabeth watches it land in chunks on the ceramic tile.
“I’m not trained in this,” she says. “But I have a lot of practice. My handiwork will have to do.” Alice puts her hands on her hips, squinting a little. “I think we need to go darker.”
They turn the chair and Elizabeth leans her head back, letting her hair tumble into the sink. Her neck digs into the cold ceramic. Alice pours a pitcher of warm water over her hair, greasy from lack of a decent shampoo. She massages Elizabeth’s temples and scalp with a dollop of Suave.
“You normally wait to wash the hair after applying the dye, but you really needed the wash first.” Alice squeezes out the excess water with a towel.
Alice rubs the dye through her hair. The smell of ammonia settles heavily in the stuffy bathroom, stinging Elizabeth’s nose. She is woozy from the cocktail of chemicals. Alice peels her rubber gloves off and cracks the window. A shiver runs down her neck. It’s funny to think how a whole new life begins with her hair.
“So, how did you end up there?” She tucks cotton around Elizabeth’s scalp and behind her ears, then covers her head with a plastic cap.
“Stupidity. Pure stupidity.”
Alice perches on the fluffy pink toilet seat. “Tell me about it. Out of all the stories I’ve heard—”
Elizabeth shakes her head. Alice cannot know. No one can.
Thirty minutes later, her hair is the color of a moonless night. Alice packs her bag with burner phones and rushes them out the door.
“Be careful now.” She takes Elizabeth’s cheeks into her palms, looking at her with intense, shiny eyes. “You get across the border, into Oregon, and stop for the night. Go someplace that takes cash. Then call me. I’ll arrange a bus ticket in my name to your next destination. Keep your head down. Try to be unmemorable.”
Elizabeth takes a shaky breath and waves before they pile into the truck. They drive down the forested road in silence, leaving Washington for good.
“Where are we going, Mommy?”
Elizabeth cracks the window and lets some of the noxious smell from her damp hair out of the truck. She takes a deep breath.
“I’m not sure, baby.”
But the road takes her toward the seashore, almost against her will, and definitely against her better judgment.
She is going home.
Charlotte Barkley is a legend throughout the country, but for the residents of the small town on the Oregon Coast, she is everyone’s daughter. The Barkley Inn is nestled across the highway from a tiny, hidden pier outside of Tillamook County. The marina is weathered gray, with a few boats that seem perpetually docked there. There is a surf shop with an ocean mural painted on its door, an old-fashioned candy store needing a coat of paint, and a fish-and-chips restaurant. Rocky Shores is so sleepy it is swallowed by the lush, endless forest.
Rocky Shores was never a well-known town, not until Charlotte’s disappearance. Now, the tourists stop by the bayside for a piece of a secret. Elizabeth wonders what the Barkleys think about this—how they feel about the influx of business their private tragedy has brought. Some of the kids at school whispered that the Barkleys knew what happened to the little girl. Others said that Myra Barkley’s obsession bordered on insane, that she would wait at that inn for Charlotte till the end of time.
She kisses Theo on the forehead and tucks a blanket around him. It is the thickest blanket he’s ever had. His lips turn up in his sleep, and she wonders what he dreams of.
Myra Barkley doesn’t strike Elizabeth as all that odd. She would wait for Theo too.
Elizabeth redirects her thoughts to the plan she must adhere to if they want to escape. She unzips her duffel bag and rifles through it, retrieving the three burner phones Alice purchased from different Walmarts, and the stack of different identification cards.
Don’t fuck this up, she thinks.
She holds the phone in her palm. Should she call Alice yet?
No, not until she is sure they are safe. She knows one thing— they can’t stay here.
Elizabeth runs her fingers along the silver necklace and squeezes her eyes shut. How will she get out of this one?
Her breath quickens. Elizabeth poisoned the man. She could be guilty of murder. Or maybe it would be considered self-defense. Elizabeth is no lawyer. She’s got no experience with cops, and there’s no one she can think of to ask without sounding suspicious as hell.
Elizabeth cannot spend one more day incarcerated.
As soon as Myra and Herb retreat to the house, she will gather Theo and sneak out to the truck. Her eyelids are heavy; sleep threatens to overtake her. Even her muscles have gone soft from the hot bath Myra had drawn for her that afternoon. She decides to lie down, just for a few minutes. It is better to wait till deep in the night. She cannot head to the police with Herb and Myra in the morning. Run. That’s what she is supposed to do. What she was told to do. Everyone from Rocky Shores is haunted by Charlotte Barkley. The old case will resurface. When the truth comes out, Elizabeth and her son will be filleted by the media. Imposter takes advantage of grieving mother. Her chest aches as she lies beside Theo.
Elizabeth Lark is no one’s daughter.
Excerpt from Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti. Copyright 2021 by Melissa Colasanti. Reproduced with permission from Melissa Colasanti. All rights reserved.
My Book Review:
In her debut novel, Call Me Elizabeth Lark,author Melissa Colasanti weaves a riveting thriller that easily draws the reader in with its suspenseful storyline set in the Oregon coastal town of Rocky Shores, that follows three women as they deal with a twenty-year old traumatic event that has devastated their family.
Twenty years ago Myra Barkley's eight year old daughter Charlotte disappeared from a beach across from the family's inn. Myra hasn't given up hope that her daughter would return home one day, even though everyone believes that Charlotte drowned.
Gwen Barkley has been dealing with guilt, anger, and anxiety since her younger sister Charlotte's disappearance. Gwen had been babysitting her sister, but while attending a beach party at the cove with her boyfriend and friends, Gwen wasn't paying attention to what Charlotte was doing until she couldn't be found anywhere on the beach.
Elizabeth Briggs escaped from an abusive marriage with her five year old son Theo. With the help of an abusive women's advocate / attorney named Alice Johnson, she is given new identification under the name of Elizabeth Lark. Elizabeth and Theo return to her hometown of Rocky Shores to plan out where to go next. Elizabeth and Theo seek shelter from a rainstorm at the Barkley Inn, but Elizabeth didn't count on innkeeper Myra Barkley thinking that she is the woman's missing daughter!
While Myra is sure that Elizabeth is really her missing daughter Charlotte, and Gwen deals with her ongoing guilt, Elizabeth is caught between the fine line of truth and lie. And if that isn't enough, there is someone out there who is determined to make sure that the truth behind the Barkley's girl disappearance twenty years ago never becomes known.
Call Me Elizabeth Lark is a riveting multi-layered tale told in the third person alternating perspectives by Myra, Elizabeth and Gwen. The author does a phenomenal job of delving into the slow-building and tension filled storyline interwoven with a dysfunctional family dynamic, flashbacks to the past, and a tangled web of secrets, lies, and betrayals. It has enough intriguing and suspenseful twists and turns that leaves the reader with no other option than to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. The reader will be kept in suspense until the suprising truth behind the Barkley daughter's disappeance is revealed. It just doesn't get any better than that!
Call Me Elizabeth Larkis an intense thriller that is a must read!
RATING: 4 STARS
About The Author
Melissa Colasanti is a mother and an author. She has a BFA in fiction from Boise State University. Her writing has appeared in Lithub, Memoir Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal and others. She is the Stephen R. Kustra scholar in creative writing for 2019, and was awarded the Glenn Balch Award for fiction in 2020.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Melissa Colasanti. There will be one (1) winner of one (1) signed Copy of Call Me Elizabeth Lark + Swag (US Addresses ONLY). The giveaway begins on May 1, 2021 and runs through June 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest book review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
She was a mega-celebrity—he was a billionaire businessman—now he’s dead—she’s in jail.
Laurie Bateman was living the American dream. Since her arrival as an infant in the U.S. after the fall of Saigon, the pretty Vietnamese girl had gone on to become a supermodel, a successful actress, and, finally, the wife of one of the country’s top corporate dealmakers. That dream has now turned into a nightmare when she is arrested for the murder of her wealthy husband.
New York City TV journalist Clare Carlson does an emotional jailhouse interview in which Bateman proclaims her innocence—and becomes a cause celebre for women’s rights groups around the country.
At first sympathetic, then increasingly suspicious of Laurie Bateman and her story, Clare delves into a baffling mystery which has roots extending back nearly fifty years to the height of the Vietnam War.
Soon, there are more murders, more victims, and more questions as Clare struggles against dire evil forces to break the biggest story of her life.
“Do you know who Laurie Bateman is?” my friend Janet Wood asked me.
“I do,” I said. “I also know who Lady Gaga is. And Angelina Jolie. And Ivanka Trump. I’m in the media, remember? That’s what we do in the media, we cover famous people. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.”
“Laurie Bateman hired me.”
“As an attorney?”
“Yes, as an attorney. That’s what I do, Clare.”
We were sitting in my office at Channel 10 News, the TV station in New York City where I work as news director. I should have known something was going on as soon as Janet showed up there. We usually met at Janet’s law office which is big, with panoramic views of midtown Manhattan, and a lot nicer than mine.
Janet never comes to see me at Channel 10 unless she has a reason.
I figured I was about to find out that reason.
It was early December and outside it was snowing, the first real storm of the winter. The snow started falling during the night, and by now it was covering the city with a powdery white blanket. Pretty soon the car exhausts and trucks would turn it into brown slush, but for now it was gorgeous. From the window next to my desk, the city had an eerie, almost unreal quality. Like something from a Norman Rockwell painting.
My outfit for the day was perfect for the snowy weather, too. I’d walked in wearing a turtleneck sweater, heavy corduroy slacks, a blue down jacket with a parka hood and white earmuffs, scarf and mittens. The ski bunny look. I felt like I should have a cup of hot chocolate in my hand.
“Why does Laurie Bateman need you as an attorney?” I asked Janet.
She hesitated for what seemed to be an inordinately long amount of time before answering.
“Are we talking off the record here?”
“Whatever you want, Janet.”
“I need your word on that.”
“C’mon, it’s me. Clare Carlson, your best friend in the world.”
“Laurie Bateman wants me to represent her in divorce proceedings.”
“I thought you’d like that.”
“Is it too late to take back my ‘best friend in the world/ off-the-record’ promise?”
Janet smiled. Sort of.
“How much do you know about Laurie Bateman?” she asked me now.
I knew as much as the rest of the world, I suppose. Laurie Bateman seemed to have the American Dream going for her. Since coming to the U.S. as a baby with her family after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the pretty Vietnamese girl had grown up to become a top model, then a successful actress, and finally, the wife of one of the country’s top corporate deal makers. She had a fancy Manhattan townhouse, a limousine at her beck and call and her face had graced the covers of magazines like Vogue and People.
Her husband was Charles Hollister, who had become incredibly wealthy back in the ’70s as one of the pioneers of the burgeoning computer age. He was a kind of Steve Jobs of those early days, and he later expanded into all sorts of other industries—from media to pharmaceuticals to oil drilling and a lot more. He was listed as one of the ten wealthiest businessmen in America.
When Hollister married Laurie Bateman a few years ago, there were a lot of jokes about the big difference in age between the two—she was so much younger and so beautiful. Like the jokes people made about Rupert Murdoch with Wendy Deng and then Jerry Hall, his last two wives. People always assume that a younger and pretty woman like that is marrying for the money. But Laurie Bateman and Charles Hollister insisted they were in love, and they had consistently projected the public persona of a happily married couple in the media since their wedding.
Except it now appeared they weren’t so happily married.
“Is she trying to divorce him to get her hands on his money?” I asked.
“Actually, he’s trying to divorce her and stop her from getting her hands on any of his money.”
“So the bottom line here is this divorce is about money.”
“Isn’t there a pre-nuptial agreement that would settle all this?”
“Yes and no.”
“Spoken like a true lawyer.”
“Yes, there is a pre-nup. But we don’t think it applies here. That’s because other factors in the marriage took place which could invalidate the terms of the pre-nup they agreed to and signed.”
“Such as?” I asked finally.
“For one thing, Charles Hollister has a mistress. A younger woman he’s been seeing.”
“Younger than Laurie Bateman?”
“Much younger. In her twenties.”
“Jeez! Hollister’s such an old man I have trouble imagining him being able to have sex with his wife, much less getting it up for a second woman on the side.”
“Her discovery that he was cheating on her, along with a lot of other reasons, have turned Laurie Bateman’s life into a nightmare—a living hell—behind the walls of the beautiful homes they live in. She’s kept quiet about it so far, protecting the happy couple image they’ve put on for the media. But now she wants to let the world know the truth. That’s where you come in, Clare.”
Aha, I thought to myself.
Now we’re getting down to it.
I was about to find out the real reason Janet was here.
“Laurie Bateman wants to go public with all this,” Janet said. “She wants to tell her story in the media. The true story of her marriage to Charles Hollister. We know Hollister is going to use his clout to try and smear her and make her look bad, so that’s why we want to get her version out quickly. What I’m talking about here is an exclusive interview with Laurie Bateman about all of this. Her talking about the divorce, the cheating—everything. And she wants you to do the interview with her.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why not Gayle King? Or Savannah Guthrie? Or Barbara Walters or Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer or another big media name? I’m just the news director of a local TV station here.”
“She wants you, Clare. In fact, I think that’s the reason she hired me for her lawyer. She found out you and I were friends—and she’s hoping I can deliver you to her to do this interview on air with her.”
“I still don’t know why she wouldn’t want to go with someone really famous . . .”
“You’re famous too, Clare. You know that as well as I do. And that’s why she wants you. You’re as famous as any woman on the air right now.”
Janet was right about that.
I was famous.
It could have gone either way—I could have wound up being either famous or infamous because of what I did—but in the end I’d wound up as a media superstar all over again.
Just like I’d been when I won a Pulitzer Prize nearly twenty years ago for telling the story of legendary missing child Lucy Devlin—even though I didn’t tell the whole story then.
“Laurie Bateman’s life with Charles Hollister is a big lie,” Janet said to me. “Now she wants to tell the truth on air about all those lies she’s been hiding behind. Like you did when you finally told the truth on air about you and Lucy Devlin. That’s why she wants you to be the one who interviews her.”
I still wasn’t sure how I felt about all this new found fame I’d gotten from my Lucy Devlin story, but there was no question that if it got me this Laurie Bateman story . . . well, that would be a huge exclusive for me and the station.
“When can I meet her?” I asked Janet.
Excerpt from Beyond The Headlines by R.G. Belsky. Copyright 2021 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.
My Book Review:
In Beyond The Headlines,the fourth book in the Clare Carlson Mystery Series, author R.G. Belsky weaves a riveting mystery tale that easily draws the reader into New York Channel 10 News Director Clare Carlson's latest investigation.
The story begins with Clare's best friend, attorney Janet Wood representing supermodel and actress Laurie Bateman in a divorce proceeding that her billionaire businessman husband Charles Hollister has begun against her. Laurie wants to go public and tell the true story about their marriage, so she wants an exclusive interview with Claire. But the day of the interview, Charles is found murdered in their apartment and Laurie is taken into custody for his murder. An exclusive divorce interview now turns into an exclusive investigation to prove Laurie is innocent of her husband's murder.
As Clare delves into the investigation of the marriage between Laurie Bateman and Charles Hollister, she finds that there are more questions than answers, a growing list of suspects, dark pasts, and deeply buried secrets, so she has to go beyond the headlines to put the puzzle pieces together. And if that isn't enough, the intertwining of Clare's personal and professional lives and her dark past continues to come to the surface.
Beyond The Headlinesis a captivating mystery tale that is rich in detail and vivid descriptions. It has enough intriguing and suspenseful twists and turns that leaves the reader with no other option than to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. As a diehard fan of mystery tales, I must admit that this fourth installment in the series is my favorite. The complexity and multi-layers of the Laurie and Charles' story, and Clare's investigation kept me thoroughly riveted and so engrossed, I couldn't help but try and guess the outcome as Clare puts all the pieces of the puzzle together.
With a complex and realistic cast of characters, the author does a phenomenal job of transporting the reader into this fast-paced white-knuckle storyline. The thrilling cat-n-mouse game engages the reader to follow Clare's investigation as she tries to find out who really murdered Charles Hollister. The jaw-dropping surprise ending will leave the reader completely speechless. It just doesn't get any better than this!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I adored the author's richly vivid description of the Christmas holiday season in New York City. I love taking day trips to NYC during the holiday season, and the author captured the famous landmarks and all the sights and sounds of the season, all the reader has to do is close their eyes and be transported to that magical season in my favorite city.
Beyond The Headlinesis one heck of an adrenaline rush that is a must-read for the true diehard mystery junkies!
RATING: 5 STARS
About The Author
R. G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City.
His new mystery, Beyond The Headlines, was published in May 2021 by Oceanview. It is the fourth in a series featuring Clare Carlson, the news director for a New York City TV station. The first Clare Carlson book, Yesterday's News, came out in 2018. The second book, Below The Fold, came out in May 2019. The third book, The Last Scoop, came out in May 2020.
The first Clare Carlson book, Yesrerday News, won the David Award at Deadly Ink for Best Mystery of 2018. The second Clare Carlson book, Below The Fold, was named Best Mystery 0f 2019 in the Foreword INDIES Awards.
He also is the author of two thrillers written under the pen name of Dana Perry – The Silent Victim (2019), The Golden Girl (June, 2020) and Her Ocean Grave (June 2021 – Bookouture).
Belsky previously wrote the Gil Malloy series – The Kenneconnection, Shooting For The Stars And Blonde Ice – about a newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News.
Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. He has also been a top editor at the New York Post, Star magazine and NBC News.
His previous suspense/thriller novels include Loverboy and Playing Dead. Belsky lives in New York City.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.G. Belsky. There will be two (2) winners who will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 1, 2021 and ends on June 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
From New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio comes a heartfelt beach book like no other -- The Beachgoers, Book 13 of The Seaside Saga.
You know them on a first-name basis. Jason. Maris. Elsa. Shane. Celia. Kyle. Lauren and the rest of the Stony Point beach crew. So catch up on the enchanted evening sand and join your favorite friends on the Connecticut shore. In this deftly woven novel, love, secrets and surprises are in store.
My Book Review: In The Beachgoers, the beach friends' story continues where Stony Point Summer left off. Author Joanne DeMaio transports the reader back to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where the summer season is coming to a close. The story picks up during the Labor Day weekend, where our beach friends lives are like the tides, sometimes they keep moving and changing.
In The Beachgoers, Author Joanne DeMaio easily captivates her readers' attention with this beautifully written tale through a seamless and flowing storyline, and with a wonderful description of a tranquil beach setting that wraps itself around the reader like a sun-warmed beach towel. The characters draw you into their lives with a strong emotional pull, their complexities and flaws are true-to-life, it is easy to relate to them with compassion, empathy, and hope.
The Beachgoersis an intricate story of interweaving friendships, life events, and deeply held secrets and drama. It is a wonderful story that continues to demonstrate the power of the magical sweet salt air that will cure what ails you. In this installment in The Seaside Saga Series, the author weaves a story that alternates between the present and flashbacks to the beach friends' pasts. This segment of the beach friends' story focuses on heartbreaking traumatic events from ten years ago involving Jason and Neil Barlow, and Kyle and Lauren Bradford; while interweaving it with the continuing present ongoing marital strife between Jason and Maris; Elsa's secret leading up to the grand opening of her Ocean Star Inn; a blossoming attraction between Celia Gray and Shane Bradford; and a surprise celebration for Kyle and Lauren Bradford.
This installment in the series held so much angst, you can't help but feel the full gamut of emotions as the author takes the reader back to ten years ago, and the traumatic events that the beach friends had to deal with. At the end of the prior book, Stony Point Summer, the author teased her readers with a couple of cliffhanger endings that are revealed in The Beachgoers:Elsa's secret is revealed and Jason realizes who the person is in the mysterious beach binocular photo. But alas the reader has a new cliffhanger when someone shows up at Elsa's door, and oh wait ... the author decides to add another cliffhanger ending ... Maris tells Jason to get ready because he is going somewhere ... perhaps a beach friends intervention? We'll just have to wait and see what is revealed in Shore Road, the fourteenth installment of the series ... sigh.
I think this installment in the series has the most emotional storyline, as the reader follows along with the beach friends' lives that are full of friendship, love, secrets, regrets, challenges, heartbreak, grief, surprises, and second chances. As you read this installment, have the tissues ready because you will definitely need them because you will be experiencing the full gamut of emotions as you turn the pages. And just when you think you're all caught up with the beach friends' lives, the author teases the readers by keeping them in suspense and anxiously waiting for the next installment in the series.
So now that I have whet your interest in the beach friends latest comings and goings, drive under the railroad trestle and enter the enchanting beach town of Stony Point ... pull up a beach chair ... and visit with the close-knit longtime friends in author Joanne DeMaio's delightful novel, The Beachgoers.
The Seaside Saga Seriesis a heartwarming series of stories of friendship, family, painful secrets, new beginnings and second chances. Author Joanne DeMaio weaves a wonderful tale written in the third person narrative, that is set in the present with flashbacks to the past. The reader is transported to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where they follow along with Celia, Maris, Eva, Matt, Jason, Kyle, Lauren, Nick, Elsa, Cliff, and Shane as their lives change like the tide's ebb and flow on their little tranquil coastal town.
RATING: 5 STARS
About The Author
Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. The Beachgoersis her newest novel. Currently at work on her next book, Shore Road. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.