Desert Isle Keeper
The Sound of Glass
I began this book, as I do any book, optimistically expecting a good read. What I got was a great one – a story that completely blew me away; that had me laughing and crying and smiling. It’s an unusual tale showing us that even the simplest of lives can hold amazing secrets and it is a book you won’t want to put down.
Two years after the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband she receives some unexpected news—his grandmother’s home in Beaufort, South Carolina now belongs to her. The news is especially unexpected because Merritt had no idea he had any family. Anxious to leave behind some bad memories in Maine, she determines to move to the house and begin her life anew.
Her arrival is met with unexpected complications. Gibbes, her (unknown of) brother-in-law, arrives determined to get some of his left behind possessions out of the house. And Merritt’s own estranged family in the form of her step-mother Loralee and half-brother Owen show up expecting to spend time with her.
Merritt certainly has no intention of holding on to anything that doesn’t belong to her and she makes it clear to Gibbes that he is welcome to anything in the house. She is also too polite to send Loralee and Owen packing and grudgingly allows them to move in for a “visit”.
Trying to settle in to the ancient ancestral home turns out to be more difficult than expected, though. Everything needs updating. The shades of the former residents’ lives are everywhere, making Merritt, Loralee and Owen feel a bit like interlopers. And when the door to the attic is finally opened, Merritt and Gibbes find things that both surprise and frighten them. Slowly they begin to unravel the secrets of the Heyward family, uncovering mysteries that rock the very foundation of all they ever knew about their pasts.
I’m not sure what I loved most about this book. Certainly I adored the mystery portion of the story. Finding out what was in the attic and why was intriguing. But discovering the connections to everything as we did at the end was fabulous. There are a lot of layers to the surprises in this book, a few of them relying on coincidence. But I accepted those convenient occurrences because the timing of them was actually perfect and believable. For me, the whole thing just worked.
Another positive was the characters. When we are first introduced to them, they aren’t very lovable. Merritt is prickly, Gibbes seems judgmental, Loralee pushy, Owen too perfect. By the end of the story, by adding layers and depth to each person, the author had made me fall in love with them all.
The author also made me accept two of my personal reading taboos. I tend not to like books where the hero or heroine falls for the sibling of their former significant other. In this case it didn’t bother me. There were moments it came close but ultimately, because the two really got to know each other first, I accepted it. I also don’t like the super young, beautiful second wife but Loralee quickly wins the reader over. There were genuine reasons for her story arc and in the end I was thoroughly charmed by the character.
The book does deal with one very dark subject I feel I should warn the reader about though – spousal abuse. It is treated very much as a problem which can pass on through the family for generations. It also seemed as though there was a sense that children who grow ups to be abusers showed a propensity to violence early. The issue was in no way made light of and the complexities involving family and the emotions of the abused toward the abuser were very much in evidence. This is a subject I don’t think anyone likes to read about it but it was handled well here. This and Loralee’s illness keep the book from being a lighthearted read though.
This book engaged me from the beginning and kept me engrossed throughout. I would recommend it –strongly- to anyone who likes women’s fiction or who enjoys mysteries that involve the past.