Review by Sylvia A. Reddom
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
So in this second book, following IT BEGAN WITH A LIE, we find our heroine, Rebecca (Becca) is still living alone in her Aunt Charlie’s old house. Except she is never alone.
Neighbours (aka old customers) are all coming around looking for the renewal of her Auntie Charlie’s “tea” products; her step daughter Chrissy (who was a pawn in her former husband’s scam to steal her inheritance and the old house) and her cousin CB who just shows up. Becca’s bad former husband Stefan is refusing to give her a divorce, and has been arrested for all his wrong doings against her. Police hold out little hope of getting any of her inheritance money back.
Friends Daphne and Mia are still around to support her and give her advice and guidance. That and feed her vivid imagination with tons of conflicting ideas about what really happened to their old friend Jessica who just disappeared.
Margot, the foster mother to Becca’s step daughter Chrissy, says the girl is starving herself. Despite Chrissy being a part of her father’s plan to hurt her stepmother, Becca, is not willing to leave her on her own. So Chrissy comes back to live at the old Auntie’s house. She along with Becca, spirits and strangers abound around the old house!
Daniel her old high school beau is around but working as a policeman, Celia is married to his best friend Barry and not very warm to Becca. Another neighbourhood girl who goes out with them at times is Janey.
Oscar a black cat adopted her and helps with keeping her company as she rattles around the old empty house. Her cousin CB shows up from time to time (her only cousin from her Mother’s side, with his reddish blonde hair, not bad looking either) but he has a life back in New York.
Chrissy comes home with her friend Brittany a striking blonde who is the spitting image of Jessica. Strikingly like Jessica. Scarily like Jessica. She must be related but how?
Old friends want to catch up – so old pals Daphne, Barry and Celia, Mia, Rich and Becca’s cousin CB go out to a local bar. Immediately Celia starts insinuating that our Becca knows more than she admits. Over and over the group keeps bringing up the mystery of the disappearance of Jessica, 15 years ago.
Becca is overwhelmed with the stories – from Mia: who cannot get over the loss of their friend without explanation; Rich: who thinks he knows what happened; Daniel: who isn’t talking about much of anything except the cop shop work and his new fiancé Gwyn: who focuses her attention on keeping Daniel away from Becca at all costs. CB is there to calm her and stay with her a bit. Good old reliable cousin CB who she has known her whole life, always there when he can be.
Our dear girl Becca gets feeling very uncomfortable and wondering why she ever came back home.
Seems there is a Peeping Tom reported around town right when poor old Becca finds a footprint in her garden right under a window – same spot where she thought she had seen someone looking in one night!
I recommend that you just need to listen to the characters. They fill you in – each on their own perspective and in doing so; you are given pieces of a puzzle.
Sometimes you are thinking about Jessica, the “disappeared”, other times your focus is brought back to Rebecca and her friends and always lurking in the background is Aunt Charlie, Mad Martha and the whole house history.
As you try to find out what did happen to Jessica, you are taken down a few pathways. Just when you think you have it all figured out, and each character figured out – in pops a new angle or new person with new “old” information about what did happen 15 years earlier. Or what they thought happened.
Becca is pulled back and forth (and takes you along with her) every time she runs into her old beau Daniel – and his on again fiancé Gwyn – until she sees Gwyn without her engagement ring and Daniel starts asking her a lot of personal questions.
You are never really sure what will happen and where that will take Becca.
So back to the spooky old house – if you dare. We find out (via Daphne) that those 15 years ago, at the so called “going away party” for Jessica and Mia, Jessica had a big fight with Rich (who had a crush on her). She was screaming that Rich just “did not get it” and that “evil had taken place” there. The exact same thing that Becca’s stepdaughter Chrissy had muttered while sleepwalking at old Aunt Charlie’s house – and apparently what old Mad Martha had uttered many years before!!
Is the house haunted? By who – or by what? What evil lurks there? Did it take Jessica away? Was she dead? Did I mention that Maude a local homeless woman keeps popping up in front of Becca hissing “You know?”
Is the hair standing up on your neck yet? It should be.
Mia, always ready to talk about Jessica’s disappearance fills Becca in on a lot of details – which Mia thinks are super important. There were strange incidents right before and after Jessica “disappeared.” Like Jessica’s Mom wanting to send her away because she was acting strange and recounting dreams she was having of her Uncle Jesse warning her of “evil”. Mia shares that a missing suitcase with some of her clothes (apparently taken with her if she had run away) could not have included any of Jessica’s favourite clothes…they were all still in her closet! Something that Mia pointed out, as her best friend, she would know.
Throw into this mix Pat, her Aunt Charlie’s old friend, who bugs her daily for more “tea” that her Aunt had made, tells her she is haunted.
Local animals start going away and some are found, well dead. Then so is Pat!
Becca cannot tell who is lying to her, about what, and why. Who knows more than they are saying? Was Jessica taken by someone? Is she having dreams or hallucinations when she thinks she has visit from Aunt Charlie – and now Pat too? Was Pat right about a “Devil” being near?
You can easily plan a plot that includes any one of a number of these so called “friends”. However, subtly at first, building ever so slightly to a sudden surprise piece of information….. this story pulls you along with it.
At times dragging you past nearby spirits and “evil” things, it will entwine the past with the present. Then the plot takes a wee twist and you will be, well “surprised” to say the least.
You will love it. Oh but don’t turn the lights out…or stay overnight alone while reading this one.