Series & Title: Honey Ridge, Book 3: The Innkeeper's Sister
Author: Linda Goodnight
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon
Publisher: Harlequin: HQN Books
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Romance
ARC Received From: Harlequin via NetGalley
Reviewed For: TLC Book Tours
Welcome to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, where Southern hospitality and sweet peach tea beckon, and where long-buried secrets lead to some startling realizations…
Grayson Blake always has a purpose—and never a moment to lose. He's come home to Honey Ridge to convert a historic gristmill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery…and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger.
Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright facade can't erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she's lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to resolve an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth…and hope.
All that was done in the dark will eventually be brought to the light. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time, sometimes it takes a lot. But the truth will be made known.
The discovery of a skeleton beneath the gristmill opens a door to the past and a mystery that's been waiting years to be solved. Grayson and Valery reunite, childhood friends who drifted apart are now together again. So are feelings that once grew from friendship but were never acted on. But there's a lot to let go of, to accept and move on from, before they can even begin to think of the possibility of a future together.
The unearthed skeleton brings about renewed grief and anguish for Valery and her sister. Is it her sister's long-lost son? The agony of losing a child and not knowing how or why is tangible, not just for Julia, Valery's sister, but for Valery herself.
There are slips into the distant past in this story that eventually shed light on the unearthed skeleton, but it all ties in with the present. The dance between past and present is beautifully done, compliments on the dance floor without overshadowing each other.
I liked this story for all its complexities and unanswered questions. Everything made sense by the end. The mystery was a bonus, in my opinion, but to watch healing occur because it was time was the icing on the cake. The future couldn't happen until the past had been dealt with. It was a slow walk, no rushing, no jumping ahead, and it was worth it.
NY Times and USA Bestseller, Linda Goodnight writes novels to touch the heart as well as to entertain. Her emotional stories of hope have won the RITA, the Carol, the Reviewer's Choice, and numerous other industry awards. A small town girl, Linda remains close to her roots, making her home in rural Oklahoma. She and husband have a blended family of eight, including two teenagers recently adopted from Ukraine. Many of her books are about family and children and rightly so, as she draws her deeply emotional stories from her surroundings, her great love of family, and from personal experiences as a nurse and teacher.