Judith E. French has written some wonderful historical romance, but I had never tried her romantic suspense. The setting, an island off the Eastern Shore of Maryland, captures an area I love, but the suspense story just did not rise above ordinary for me. In addition, many of the hidden secrets in this story are nasty enough to mention that it is decidedly not for the faint-hearted.
Adopted as an infant, Bailey Elliot returns to Tawes Island to claim an inheritance left to her by a birth relative she didn’t even know she had. Though born on Tawes, the locals make it clear to Bailey that they see her as an outsider and that she would be better off leaving the island right away. Bailey decides that she will at least stay long enough to see the property.
Bailey is naturally curious to learn the secrets surrounding her mother, her family, and her own birth, but her every inquiry is turned aside. Though the attraction between Bailey and islander Daniel Catlin seems to be mutual, Daniel still cautions Bailey that she would be better off back on the mainland. This unwelcoming thought is one that Bailey will hear often on the island.
Initially, this novel started off strong. The almost gothic air of secrecy surrounding Bailey’s heritage draws the reader in and the various characters on Tawes are most definitely interesting. The islanders are an eccentric lot, but, thankfully, not in the two dimensional cookie-cutter mold of so many other books I’ve read. While some are likable, there is still plenty of darkness and unusual surprises lurking in the small-town world of Tawes.
If the story of Bailey finding out the secrets of her past were the only mystery in this book, it would likely have garnered a higher grade. However, another mystery subplot is thrown into the mix and even as I reached the end of the book, I still couldn’t find anything that made this subplot necessary to the story. It wove in and out of the main story in an awkward fashion and distracted more than intrigued.
Bailey and Daniel were a likable enough couple, but they never really came to life for me. As a result, even though the main suspense plot intrigued me, it was hard for me to feel fully part of the story. This slightly distant quality, combined with some truly nasty revelations toward the end of the story, made this a rather “blah” read for me. It is not a bad book, but there are much more interesting thrillers out there.