Author: Sarah Addison Allen
It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.
But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.
For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.
Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. It is a pretty quick read. I liked the themes of friendship that the author explored, such as childhood vs. adult friendships and can they really make the transition? What makes a true friend and when is it OK to let a friendship go? The author also explores how much of our childhood self we carry over into our adult life and how it shapes who we are as adults. As for the characters themselves, I was most impressed by Paxton's character. I think she goes through the most change in the book and I was rooting for her in the end. I also enjoyed the friendship that develops between Willa and Paxton.
This book offers two romances. I'm not sure I really bought into the relationship between Willa and Collin. In the end, I wasn't sure why they were together. Their relationship was quite boring and I couldn't really see how either character changed enough to want to be together. The relationship between Paxton and Sebastian was much more intense, although the question of "is he or isn't he" was dragged out a bit longer than it needed to be. (I won't give you the answer, you have to read it to find out). I liked their friendship and think their relationship was the stronger of the two.
I felt like the description of the book was a bit deceiving as there is no real mystery in the book. It's pretty easy to figure out who Tucker Devlin is; even though it takes the main characters a while to get there. I would recommend the book. I think it would be a good beach read this summer.