A romantic murder mystery from best selling author Olivia Stowe.
Ally returns to her home in Virginia to restore herself and stays to restore the castle that was her home. But returning also means discovering murder, her mother's forbidden relationship, and the secret of her own conception.
The bombing of a U.S. embassy building in Amman, Jordan, has left cultural affairs officer, Ally Templeton, wounded, both physically and emotionally, and without a job and a fiancé. On top of that, her eccentric, man-hater mother, Miranda, a former personal assistant to major symphony conductors, for the third time has tried to burn down the scaled-down replica of a Transylvanian castle she has been living in in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia.
Ally, still reeling from personal tragedy, returns to Virginia to a mother who is fading away, a mystery of disappearing men, and a rekindling of the question of who her father was. Determined to take control of her life, Ally decides to restore the castle and to do the contracting herself. Subcontracting, however, brings her a pair of men, one older and one younger, vying for her attention and affection, each of whom has issues of his own that threaten to entangle Ally ever deeper into increasingly more sinister mysteries.Excerpt:
Jake and Ally started off the morning with the same running argument they had been engaged in from the previous evening. Ally was saying it was time to take down the bookcase wall that was partitioning off the ballroom, and Jake was dragging his feet, making the argument that it was best the way it was and that the wall was too nice to take down.
Dont you want us to finish off the rooms you want to occupy while the construction is going on? he countered. It was an old argument now. He was dragging his feet on getting into the central section of the building. Again.
Before she could answer, he continued. Ive got to go down into Luray before my crews ready to come up this morning. Theres some building supplies I want them to truck up. You think about where you want to move next while Im gone.
Ive thought about where I want to move next already, Ally thought, fuming. But Jake liked to treat her like she was his pupil rather than his bossthe contractorso she said nothing. She just stood there, by the gaping opening of one of the tall windows from the old ballroom area out onto the front lawn of the castle.
She watched Jake get in his truck and drive down the road. When the tail end of his truck disappeared into the sea of grape vine stands, she calmly walked over to the side of the room, where shed put a sledge hammer the night before. Then she walked to the finely fitted book case wall in the partition that made the old ballroom into two rooms. She stood there and looked at the wall for a couple of minutes. She had to agree that the workmanship had been excellent, even though she had no idea who had done the work and when.
And then she lifted the sledgehammer, swung it way back and then forward, connecting with the wood of the bookcases. And started to destroy the wall. This would decide the issue forever. When Jake got back, the wall would be so destroyed that there would be no question that the partition was going.
It wasnt more than twenty minutes before she was breaking through from the bookcases on one side to the bookcases on the other side. Shed moved to a flush panel where a picture had hung and the electrical switches and outlets were located. The flush wall was about three feet wide. When shed checked the other side, that section of wall was flush to the front of the bookcases there too. So, she thought, there were ducts or something back there. She took three good, solid swings at that section of the wall. She was raring back for a really strong swing, having broken through the wall with the previous swing, when she looked at the wall, dropped the sledgehammer dangerously close to her foot, and let out a scream.
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