Annabelle Crouse is determined to reopen her great-grandmother’s boarded-up house–and her shunned life. Many years earlier, after an unexplained absence, Julianne was relegated to a separate home by a rigidly unforgiving husband, and the Crouse women have suffered the disgrace of her assumed guilt ever since.
Despite her family’s strong disapproval, Annabelle is driven to pursue her mission through cobwebs and dust, finding the clues and the coded story left behind by her great-grandmother — Why did she go? And why did she return? Annabelle has to know.
Only one person, a man she grew up with but never noticed, stands with Annabelle as she discovers the parallels between her story and her great-grandmother’s–two women, generations apart, experiencing what love truly is.
Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, November 2013
Time and Setting: late 1900’s with flashbacks to early 1900’s
Genre: Romantic Mystery
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Sabrina
There is something nostalgic in the retelling or in this case the learning of your ancestors’ past lives. Especially when you have the opportunity to resolve a long-standing family mystery.
Nobody knows this better than Annabelle who has been living with the family secret all her life. A secret that is always hinted at but never discussed. What it is about Annabelle’s great grandmother that inspires such revulsion and shame amongst the family and surrounding townspeople? When Annabelle is finally old enough to learn the supposed truth, she finds she does not want to believe it. Being the first woman borne of Julianne’s descendants Annabelle feels drawn to her great-grandmother in a protective way and wants to see if there might not be a different story to tell.
Annabelle is at the point in her life where she is on the fast track to success; she is young, engaged and has a promising career. It would be a lot easier for her if she could just accept the family’s story and move on with her life. Instead, Annabelle turns away from it all and decides to open up the tiny boarded up house Julianne used to live in in an effort to discover her great-grandmother’s real story. She is hoping to dispel the negativity surrounding Julianne and to help her family heal from the shame they’ve been carrying.
I absolutely adored this book. It has a quiet strength throughout that is uplifting despite the tragic events that unfold. The story Julianne tells is bittersweet and how she tells it is impressive. I loved the little clues here and there that Annabelle was able to find and follow. We are not only immersed solely in Julianne’s story, but also in Annabelle’s present day interactions. I felt the balance between both to be just right and equally interesting as we learn of Julianne’s story and experience Annabelle’s. I was captivated from the beginning by this beautiful book and felt a sense of closure and satisfaction by the end.