Tuesday, October 30, 2018

ARC Review: Widow's Island Novellas 1 & 2 by Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh

Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh have teamed up again to write a series of four novellas telling a larger story. These are the first two in the Widow's Island quartet.

Close to the Bone
Author: Kendra Elliot
Publication: Montlake Romance (October 23, 2018)

Description: FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde is back home on a remote Pacific Northwest island when she gets the call: a teenager’s skeletal remains have been found on a nearby island.

Together with Tessa Black, a childhood friend turned local deputy, Cate confronts dreary weather and bleak leads to make sense of the death. The complications pile up as Cate is distracted by the coroner on the case—and by nagging memories that draw her twenty years into the past. The remains suggest eerie similarities between this victim, and Cate and Tessa’s friend Samantha, who disappeared when she was fourteen.

Cate finds herself up against closemouthed locals, buried town secrets, and even her own heart. As the case unravels, will she be able to cut through the fog and find justice for the missing and the dead?

My Thoughts: FBI Special Agent Cate Wilder is back home on Widow's Island recovering from a gunshot wound to the shoulder and the loss of her partner when she gets a call to check out some bones on Ruby's Island. Since the ferry isn't running, no other agent can get there.

This is rather traumatic for Cate since her best friend disappeared when she was fourteen and Cate and Tessa have been feeling guilt ever since. Both Cate and Tessa went into law enforcement and now Tessa is back home working on Widow's Island as a deputy.

The bones might be of their friend Samantha but it is more likely that the bones belong to Becca Conan who disappeared a few years earlier. Her father is the only one who lives on Ruby's Island. He's a best selling mystery author who has taken his daughter's disappearance badly. His wife headed back to New York but he won't leave because he is still holding out hope that Becca will come home some day.

The story, for all its brevity, builds a lot in. Widow's Island is a unique place. Many, including Cate and Samantha, are descendant's of the original settlers and still recall the scandal of Elias Bishop, wealthy shipbuilder, who betrayed his wife Camilla with Ruby. Elias and Ruby died together and many thought that Camilla was responsible. Cate is the great-great-granddaughter of Ruby and Elias. She feels certain that she's seen Ruby's ghost but that isn't something she's shared with many. Also, Widow's Island is unique in that some feel at home there and find it a healing place while others can't get comfortable there and quickly move on. Cate's mother is one of those who moved on leaving her son and daughter to her own mother to raise.

There's a budding romance between Cate and the new doctor on the island. The main mystery in this one - the identity of the bones and who killed her - is solved. But the bigger mystery of Samantha's disappearance is still unsolved and Tessa and Cate decide that they need to look into it.

A Bone to Pick
Author: Melinda Leigh
Publication: Montlake Romance (October 23, 2018)

Description: Deputy Tessa Black gave up her career as a detective with the Seattle PD and returned to the Pacific Northwest island she calls home to care for her ailing mother. Tessa thinks her mother’s illness is the worst thing she’ll face—until she responds to a routine call in the state park and discovers a local man harpooned to a sign.

As the murder investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that the victim harbored secrets. Together with her FBI agent best friend, Cate, and park ranger Logan Wilde, Tessa must connect the pieces before the murderer strikes again. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more she finds herself—and the ones she loves—in harm’s way.

Pressure mounts as Tessa attempts to juggle the current case with her search for the truth behind her childhood friend Samantha’s disappearance twenty years ago. Can Tessa find the murderer and uncover answers about Samantha without jeopardizing everything she holds dear?

My Thoughts: Tessa Black has left her job with the Seattle police department and taken a job as a deputy on Widow's Island. She needs to take care of her mother who suffers from dementia. She answers a call from a woman who hears screaming in the nearby forest. Because the other deputy's are off the island or already on duty, she calls local park ranger Logan Wilde to go with her. He's her best friends older brother and the object of her childhood crush. Logan has left the Army Special Forces to take this job because he couldn't deal with the situations he was forced to handle anymore. He's hoping that Widow's Island will be a quiet healing place for him.

Together, they discover the body of a young local artist who has been harpooned. He's only been on the island for about a year and no one knows him well. Almost the first thing that they discover is that he is living under a false identity. Tessa is attacked by a stranger when she goes to investigate the artist's house, but she also discovers a dufflebag with about $100,000 which is much more money than an artist painting landscapes for tourists should have and four nude portraits of older women. More searching also discovers a portrait of Tessa's mother.

Tessa and Logan investigate wondering if the killer is someone from the artist's past or perhaps one of the husbands of the women the artist painted. Meanwhile, Tessa's mother has taken to wandering away. One time, Tessa's friend Cate finds her and brings her back. Another time it takes an organized search before she is found. Tessa doesn't know what she is going to do, but the local Widow's Knitting and Activist group and Logan come up with a plan that will work for now.

The story was suspenseful and fast-paced. The mystery in this episode was solved. The larger mystery begun in the first book of this quartet takes the backburner here. FBI files about their friend's disappearance are located and are surprisingly thin.

I can't wait to read the next two books in this quartet of novellas.

1 comment:

  1. I thought they did a great job especially with how short they were. Definitely looking forward to the next two :)


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