Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Release Date: 3-22-11
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. 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.
One thing I love about Sarah Addison Allen’s books is the way that old southern magic, the kind that your grandmother might have spoken about, is woven into the story like a character. It whispers to people and nudges them in the direction they need to go in order to live the life they deserve. If reading her books doesn’t make you want to drop everything and move to North Carolina, I don’t know what will. The characters were drawn from the past of their families and you could tell that although they were their own people, who they came from also had a huge impact on their lives.
This book didn’t grab me quite like some of her others. I felt it lacked the depth of Garden Spells (definitely worth reading), but I still had a lot of fun with the story. The mystery that they uncover is worthy of a Southern Gothic and I loved the way that modern day and flashbacks were used. While it won’t be my favorite SAA book, it definitely has the magic and excellent story that that I love about her books.