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review 2016-09-16 04:10
Return to Crutcher Mountain (Cedar Hollow Book 2) - Melinda Clayton
Return to Crutcher Mountain - Melinda Clayton

In Return to Crutcher Mountain, Melinda Clayton travels back to Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, to further the tale of Jessie, the troubled, abused girl who was adopted by Billie May Platte in Appalachian Justice. Jessie is an adult now, and has created a successful career in Hollywood as a movie producer. But she still has problems with trusting people -- including the man she's currently seeing.

After Billie May died, Jessie inherited her mountain land. There, she has founded a center for children with developmental disabilities. And now she's called back to Cedar Hollow because of some problems at the center -- problems serious enough that the center might have to close. In rescuing the facility, Jessie may find healing once again, this time with the help of a little boy named Robby who's staying at the center.

Clayton tells her story with a sure hand. Robby's first-person sections are cute, but not overly so. I spent a good chunk of the book rooting for him and hoping he would eventually be able to tell Jessie what he knew about her past. Jessie is properly worldly and self-assured, yet vulnerable. There's a plot twist toward the end that was totally plausible, and the ending seemed to hold promise for everyone.

I'm highly recommending the whole four-book Cedar Hollow series, which Clayton recently released as a box set. You don't have to read them in order -- I didn't -- but readAppalachian Justice first. It explains Billie May's back story, which is key to a full appreciation of the rest of the books.

Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/09/return-to-crutcher-mountain-cedar.html
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review 2016-08-26 02:19
Shadow Days (Cedar Hollow #4) - Melinda Clayton
Shadow Days (Cedar Hollow Series Book 4) - Melinda Clayton

Shadow Days was a tough, but ultimately cathartic, read for me.

The main character is Emily Holt, a widow living in Florida whose sons are away at college. On the anniversary of her husband's death, Emily gives into an impulse to flee. She gets in her car and drives away, wandering aimlessly, until her car breaks down on a winding mountain road. The sheriff's deputy who picks her up takes her to the nearest town -- which happens to be Cedar Hollow. There, Emily begins to find her way out of her complicated emotions, and she also finds a way to tell her sons the truth about their father's illness.

Clayton has created a realistic portrait of a woman with a loved one who's suffering from mental illness. Emily's husband, Greg, was manic-depressive, and she spent the vast majority of her marriage covering for him in one way or another: finding him work, dealing with his behavior and his medical needs, and raising their children pretty much by herself. To compound matters, she strove to shield the boys from all knowledge of Greg's illness.

Without going into detail, I'll just say that I identified with Emily in a lot of ways. I was in tears more than once. And I was heartened that Emily's story might eventually have a happy ending.

Shadow Days is available both on its own, and as part of Clayton's Cedar Hollow omnibus. All four novels are highly recommended, but I think this one might be my favorite.

Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/08/shadow-days-cedar-hollow-4-melinda.html
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review 2013-07-03 00:00
Cedar Hollow
Cedar Hollow - Tracey Smith

Cedar Hollow is the first Romantic Suspense book by Tracey Smith, author of the Love Trilogy. Tracey already had the romance writing down, and she has nailed the suspense aspect with her initial endeavor in this genre.

The author's writing style is easy to follow. The story-line is fast-paced, as a good suspense novel should be. I didn't want to put it down – but I had to. Couldn't pull an all-nighter, because I had to work the next day.

Part of the suspense and intrigue is due to the periodic narratives by “The Chosen One”, a mysterious avenger whose time of reckoning has come, to right the wrongs, and let no one stand in the way. The first such narrative is at the end of Chapter One, so right away the reader is drawn in to the mystery. As I was reading, I correctly suspected a certain character as being “The Chosen One,” but this didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book at all.

There are also gothic elements that increase the suspense in the book. Cassidy feels a sensation of coldness whenever she walks near the foot of the 3rd floor staircase. The unused rooms on the 1st floor are kept ominously dark. Even though Cassidy closes her curtains at night, they're open in the morning.

The main characters, Cassidy and Ben, are well written, and are my favorites. At the beginning of the book, Cassidy comes across as a rather cold-hearted workaholic businesswoman, in charge of acquisitions for a resort chain, which means talking people into selling their property to the resort. Ben, who has a chip on his shoulder for an unknown reason, resents her for the job she does. As the story progresses, the reader learns of Cassidy's history, and why Ben felt that way towards her. Learning “the rest of the story” makes both characters more likeable.

Also as the story progress, several accidents occur, with Cassidy barely escaping serious injury. During the time when the accidents were occurring, the relationship between Ben and Cassidy evolves – from Ben being barely civil to Cassidy, to Ben being intimate with Cassidy (with three explicit scenes). This romantic suspense is heavy on the romance! The mystery is finally solved, with an exciting climax to the story.

I enjoyed this book very much, and rated it four out of five stars. It is a pleasing blend of suspense and romance. If you like Harlequin® romances, and the gothic novels of Barbara Michaels, you'll love Cedar Hollow by Tracey Smith!

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