Author: Marlene Bateman
Published: July 1st, 2017
Paperback/ebook: 272 pages
FTC FYI: I received a PDF from the publisher, all views and opinions expressed are my own.
Anna Coughlin is a modern 1920s woman, armed with a college education and a partiality for numbers. Now, within the walls of a fantastic castle-like mansion in the hills of Virginia, her skill will be tested as never before. Hired to serve as financial advisor to wealthy Lawrence Richardson, Anna finds the welcome she receives anything but warm. Lawrence's handsome but antagonistic son Tyler wants nothing more than to send her packing. The household staff isn't much better, but who can blame them, considering the way Lawrence's last advisor, Irene, disappeared . . .
Convinced that one of the enigmatic members of the household had something to do with Irene's disappearance, Anna doesn't dare trust anyone—not even temperamental Tyler Richardson, who, despite her best intentions, is beginning to steal her heart.
A series of frightening incidents ensnare Anna in a maze of intrigue, putting her life in peril. But even as Anna begins uncovering the secrets hidden within the mansion's stone walls, she harbors a secret of her own. Now, the only question that remains is whether she will disappear as mysteriously as Irene.
This is the first book I have read of Marlene's and I was very impressed. The author wrote a very solid and suspenseful mystery. There was one scene in particular that was downright creepy! I was on pins and needles. The characters were well-written and held their own. Anna was a strong character. I loved her determination and how educated she was. I appreciated how the author held back certain details and left the reader guessing as to why Anna cared so much about Irene. I thought the truth was introduced at a great time, not too early and not too late. I also really liked Tyler. Underneath his gruff exterior, he was a great guy. I appreciated how Anna told him the error of his ways in how he treated his son, Evan, and how she was a good influence on Evan and Tyler. The author also does a great job of planting seeds along the way as to who was the culprit and what happened to Irene. I kept going back and forth. I had my suspicions and kept changing my mind while reading. I also enjoyed the time period and setting of the book. The 1920s is a time period I don't read about very often.
4 out of 5 stars. The LDS church is referenced in the book, which I, of course didn't mind being LDS myself. I felt Anna's beliefs gave her a great strength during hard and stressful times, but other times the church references felt forced.
About the Author
Marlene Bateman Sullivan grew up in Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they live in North Salt Lake, Utah with their two dogs and four cats. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and wrote the best-selling romance/suspense novel, Light on Fire Island. She has written three other cozy mysteries; Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House, as well as the romance, For Sale by Owner.
Marlene has also written a number of non-fiction, LDS books: Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s from Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, Heroes of Faith, Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die.
The tallest parts of the mansion—fanciful turrets and a circular tower—were visible only in glimpses Anna caught between lofty oaks and towering pines as her cab wound through the knolls and hills of eastern Virginia.
When the cab turned up the long driveway lined with dogwood trees in full bloom, Anna Coughlin reached for her handbag, gripping it with a tension that had knotted her muscles ever since getting on the train.
The vast estate stood on a hilltop, like a castle—and she craned her neck to better view the starkly impressive gray-stone mansion of Ashton Hall—where she hoped to be hired. With its arched, leaded windows and slate roof with numerous chimneys, the house rivaled pictures she’d seen of castles in Europe.
Instructing the driver to wait, she climbed out, patted her hat in case it was askew, then smoothed her gray suit with gloved hands in hopes of presenting a professional appearance. Anna had no confidence she was clever enough or bold enough to pull this off, but she had to try.
Her eye was drawn by a tall man—more than six feet—who came from the side of the house. Since the man was striding toward her so purposefully, Anna stopped and waited. As he drew near, Anna noted his deep-set eyes were as black as his hair. His skin was tanned, his thin, long-fingered hands brown and strong.
“Miss Coughlin?” He stretched out a hand and shook hers, but there was no warmth for her in his eyes. “I’m Tyler Richardson. Unfortunately, your services are not needed after all.” A touch of arrogance marked his manner, as though he was long accustomed to command those around him.
“Your father called only last week to have someone come out,” Anna blurted in dismay. “May I ask what caused him to change his mind?”
A fleeting glimpse of discomfiture crossed Mr. Richardson’s face. “I wasn’t consulted about his hiring another secretary to replace the one who left so suddenly. My father isn’t in good health, and the last thing we need is someone coming in and upsetting him by making a muddle of things.”
His words kindled a fire that glinted in Anna’s eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her. “Since I’m here, I’m sure you won’t mind if I keep my appointment. After all, your father is the one who requested my services. I’m sure he’s expecting me.”
Her words hit home.It took a few bitter seconds, but he finally acquiesced. “Come in, then,” he muttered ungraciously before leading the way up the steps and opening the door.
Following his rigid back down the narrow hall, Anna’s brows furrowed as doubts crept in. How wise had she been to come to this remote place? Especially when the previous secretary had disappeared so mysteriously? Even her employer thought it odd that no one in this mansion seemed to know where Irene had gone or where she was now. It was as if Irene had vanished into thin air.
Irene and her publisher have graciously offered a giveaway of Searching for Irene
One ebook copy and one paperback copy (US only)