A great story with Amish characters but the romance is between the Englisch among them, along with some suspense to keep everyone in this rural town on edge and helping one another through a wave of unexpected crime.
I always sit with a sappy grin on my face when I begin a Marta Perry book. Perry's stories are like coming home to homemade apple pie after a stressful journey. They're sweet and wholesome with some suspense seasoned in to keep the reader turning the pages. The character conflict of a city girl landing in Amish country because of an inheritance creates ambience instantly for some cute situations to lighten the serious nature of the suspense in this latest endeavor. These key ingredients combined are why I began WHERE SECRETS SLEEP with a satisfied sigh.
Interior Designer Allison "Ally" Standish catches her boyfriend in bed with her boss. Now, not only has Allison lost her job, she's lost someone she thought was a good friend and mentor, not to mention her heartache over her boyfriend's cheating when he thought Allison had already left for her trip. How could she have been so blind?
Allison left that day with her cat for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, after being disrespected by these two people in her life. She had already scheduled personal time off to look over the property that her estranged father's mother, who is the grandmother she never knew, left her in her will. Blackburn House is a historical mansion that is currently being used commercially and Allison is the new owner, per the lawyer who contacted her. Her initial gut instinct is to get rid of this "white elephant" as fast as possible and get on with her life.
Life has a funny way of becoming more complicated than expected as Allison finds out when she realizes that more than one person wants this property she inherited, or she must make it profitable within a year if she wants to keep it. Should she sell or accept the challenge? Someone is determined to convince her to leave, or so it seems, as one thing after another seems to go wrong, including implicating Allison as a criminal. Can there be a new beginning for this city girl in a small rural community, or should she hightail it out of there as fast as possible?
Carpenter Nick Whiting is a single, divorced dad trying to make a good life for his son in the town where his family has a carpentry business. Nick's shop and showroom is at Blackburn House and he's not so sure he trusts the new owner, an outsider, to do what's best for all those who share the space. Blackburn House rents to a quilt shop, a bookstore, a lawyer and a realtor, in addition to Nick's family's business. Nick needs to think of his son first and not follow through on his attraction to Allison. Can he keep his heart closed off to someone who has begun to impress not just his friends and family, but also the young boy he's trying to protect?
WHERE SECRETS SLEEP contains likeable characters you'll find familiar if you love small town rural America and all the intricacies that make it a well-rounded place to live. It's a quaint story that focuses on the relationships of the Amish with the Englisch, exposing their differences as well as their willingness to be compatible as neighbors. There are some references to Amish faith and how it affects their way of life, but this story isn't about faith, or just the Amish, as much as it's about learning to live a fulfilling life. This story is modern but still exemplifies the less modern way of life in an Amish community.
The romance is sweet between Allison and Nick but there is some violence that is typical in a romantic suspense that reads more like a cozy murder mystery. Blackburn House is the perfect setting for a blending of characters from the charming Amish spinster, to the city girl who is transplanted into rural America and is attracted to a handsome carpenter with a cute child, to the meddling Englisch bookstore owner who can't keep his nose out of anyone's business, mixed in with various other characters including some devious villains.
I'm a fan of Amish suspense but I found the originality in this story particularly engaging. The setting lends itself to an almost Gothic Romance feel, without the ghosts, where the house is creepy and especially so when the plot quickens. If you need to relax, a trip to Amish country always does it, even when there's murder and mayhem afoot as in this story. If you're familiar with Amish country, then WHERE SECRETS SLEEP will certainly make you yearn for it.
As the first book in the WATCHER IN THE DARK series by Marta Perry, WHERE SECRETS SLEEP engages the heart. Great suspense mixed with delightful characters you'll look forward to revisiting in the next book.