Author: Patricia Rosemoor
Read copy: eBook
Published: October 7, 2005
Though the impetuous Chloe Morgan arrives at the Graylord Pastures (a horse farm in northwestern Illinois along the Mississippi River) welcomed as the new summer tutor, she in reality is there for her own purposes. Her best friend, Dawn Reed, who was home-schooling Nissa Graylord before Chloe, disappeared into the night nearly a month ago. A letter saying she was eloping cut short any police investigation, but didn’t satisfy Chloe. She and Dawn were fostered together for several years, so they’re like sisters. Dawn would never disappear on her, not like her father had.
As Chloe settles in at Graylord Farms, she first suspects Nissa's father Damian Graylord of having something to do with her friend's disappearance. But he's everything to his daughter that her father wasn't to her—and he's everything she could want in a man. But will he want her when he learns that she's been lying to him about her reasons for taking the job?
Chloe Morgan moves into Graylord Pastures as a summer tutor for the thirteen-year old Nissa. But Chloe’s intentions are not entirely "pure". She’s in Galena, Illinois, to discover the truth about the disappearance of Nissa’s former tutor, Chloe’s foster sister, Dawn.
Dawn’s disappeared a month ago, leaving a note that she was eloping, but Chloe is more than doubtful. No matter the happiness and elation, Dawn would’ve contacted her. Which never happened. So, suspecting foul play, Chloe took the position of Nissa’s tutor, suspecting everyone around her, even her attractively mysterious employer, Damian Graylord.
This story was a bit over the top for me. There was just too much of everything crammed in those 253 pages. I know the author strived for a mysterious, chilling and thrilling tale, but using every single trick in the "how to write a suspense novel" overdid it.
We have the almost gothic atmosphere of mist-shrouded house, pastures, and dangerously steep bluffs (where a horse fell to his death). There’s the ghost of the dead horse, leading the heroine to small clues as to what the truth might be. We have a missing (presumed dead) ex-mistress of the house, a cheating, lying, materialistic "bitca" that made her husband’s life living hell (too Rebecca-ish for me). There’s a missing (presumed eloped and happily married) summer tutor. The heroine is involved in three suspicious incidents that almost cost her life (she’s pushed into the wall and looses consciousness, she’s almost run over in town, she suffers from monoxide poisoning). There’s a hidden treasure in rough-cut diamonds somewhere in the house, which is littered with several secret passageways that could explain the odd noises in the attic. Then there’s the sour-faced, downright hostile toward the heroine, housekeeper (again too similar to Rebecca). And of course, the mysterious, intriguing, dark and handsome Damian Graylord that might have had something to do with the "disappearance" of both his ex-wife and the former tutor.
Sorry, but Damian Graylord didn’t come through as the mysterious, intriguing, dark, and handsome leading man for me, but more along the lines of a schizophrenic, close-mouthed, brooding a-hole with the need for some serious anger-management sessions.
And the heroine was just plain silly. Not yet in the TSTL territory, but definitely borderline. She suspected everyone, even the man that made her tingle. Sheesh. Honey, you just don’t sleep with a guy you suspect might be a murderer. It just isn’t done! I just couldn’t stand the chit.
Also, the constant change of narrative point of view was bothersome at best, horrendous at worst. The jumping from first-person to third-person and back was confusing, tiresome, and just provided a further more reason as to why this story sucked.
Oh, and the villain could be spotted from a mile away. Dissapointing.