Author: Karen Robards
Read copy: eBook
Published: December 18, 2007
Olivia Morrison is the prodigal daughter returned. She was only six when her mother died, leaving her to be raised by a stepfamily, the affluent and well-respected Archers. Growing up on LaAngelle Plantation—a lavish estate in northern Louisiana—and leading a life of privilege did little to quell Olivia's wild urges as a teenager.
After a promiscuous and rebellious few years, she ignored the advice of her adoptive family and ran off at the age of 17 to marry a charismatic rodeo rider. Now, nine years later, divorced and struggling financially to raise her eight-year-old daughter, Sara, Olivia has been summoned back to her childhood home by her beloved step-aunt, Callie, who has been diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer.
Though Olivia is prepared for a less than exuberant welcome, she isn't prepared for the reaction she gets when she first arrives at the estate. The Archer patriarch, John, takes one look at her and collapses with a heart attack. From this less-than-auspicious beginning, Olivia's visit quickly becomes even more complicated.
There's Seth, her older step-cousin, who was once like a brother to her but now triggers an unexpected passion. There's Seth's fiancée, Mallory, a cool, slender, professional woman who is busy planning the wedding, which is mere weeks away. Then there's Seth's daughter from his first marriage, eight-year-old Chloe, whose temper tantrums and hysterics have everyone on edge. Rounding things out are a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins who all trip in and out of the stately old house, making for an eclectic extended family.
As John Archer lingers near death, Callie's condition rapidly deteriorates, and Seth's marriage date draws ever nearer, Olivia's emotions are further taxed by a recurring nightmare centered around her mother's drowning death years before. Several times Olivia is awakened in the middle of the night, only to smell the lingering traces of her mother's perfume. As time goes by, Olivia begins to suspect there is much more to her mother's death than she remembers. What Olivia doesn't know is that her return to LaAngelle Plantation has resurrected a dark and deadly family secret, one that can provide the answers Olivia seeks but at a horribly high price—namely, the lives of her and Sara.
Maybe a tad too long for my liking (the whole are they, will they started to drag), but the suspense was great. Toward the end there were so many theories, so many suspects...and when the truth was finally revealed, I sure didn't see it coming. I love surprise endings.
It concentrated more on the suspense aspect than the romance, and the romance was made up of the whole push-pull think that got old rather fast, so I rated it accordingly. I missed a better mix of romance and suspense that would've made this book a true romantic suspense. Instead it was a thriller with romantic aspects. Which could've worked if those romantic aspects were better.
I don't think I'm making much sense...I liked it, but not as much as I hoped I would.