The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.
After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past?
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing| Source: Publisher| Rating: 3.5 Cups
Last night, I dreamed Lakecrest was on fire. I watched, indifferent, as flames devoured the brocade curtains and wood paneling, ashes coating my tongue and face. The windows shattered in a violent blast of heat, and turrets and walls and paintings crumbled around me. Lakecrest was dying and I was content to see it burn.
After reading the opening of the prologue, I knew I was in for a treat and I wasn’t wrong. The majority of the book had me riveted as the story of the ‘strange Lemont family’ unraveled yet the last two chapters let me down.
Here’s what’s going on. Kate Moore had one ambition in life: marry into money. Things seem to be going swimmingly when she catches the eye of rich and handsome Matthew Lemont. Marrying him was the easy part, but living in Lakecrest, his mysterious childhood home, is much harder then she imagined, especially when she learns of his aunt’s mysterious disappearance and the skeleton’s hiding in the Lemont’s closets. Will Kate be able to survive Lakecrest and the Lemonts?
At times, I found it very hard to like Kate. She’s very selfish and sort of manipulative. Lies just seem to spout from her lips and I’m never quite sure if she actually means anything she says or if she’s just saying things to further her quest to secure herself a financially sound future. As the book progressed, she sort of grew on me, although I still found myself questioning some of her actions.
I found myself feeling sorry for Matthew. He has PTSD, or ‘shell-shock’ as they called it then, from being a medic during the war but he’s also dealing with things he witnessed as a child, plus, I’m sure, the odd ‘treatment’ he received from his mother compounded to the problems he’s dealing with. The mysterious disappearance of his Aunt Cecily also plays with his mind. He’s a tortured, troubled man but he irritated me because he has no backbone; he’s content to simply sit back and allow his mother to take over every aspect of his life. I was waiting for him to put his foot down and tell his mother enough is enough but, sadly, it never happened.
Hannah, Matthew’s mother, is a control freak. I could not stand her. She’s definitely the puppet master of the Lemont family and Lakecrest. Everyone does her bidding and it’s going to be her way or no way. Marjorie, Matthew’s twin sister, is even more messed up than Matthew is. She’s definitely a wild-child who needs to grow up.
The mystery aspect was interesting. Fifteen years ago, Cecily Lemont walked into the Labyrinth she had built on the grounds of Lakecrest and simply disappeared. No one knows what happened to her and no one in the family is talking about it. Although Kate discovers that there was a bit more to Cecily than what the Lemonts want to people to know. She was the leader of this odd little cult of sorts and rumors of orgies and human sacrifices have been flying around since before Cecily disappeared.
As Kate uncovers more about Cecily and her strange behavior, she starts learning more about just how strange the family she married into really is and starts questioning Hannah’s motives. She stumbles upon an interesting scene that makes her wonder about incest in the Lemont family.
There is a gothic tone to this book and some parts of it are atmospheric. Yet I was slightly disappointed by the fact the author never followed through with any of the gothic elements. Why was Kate constantly hearing water dripping? Yes, it was a brilliant way to add that gothic touch, but, seriously, why was the dripping following her around?
While I enjoyed the majority of the book, the last few chapters let me down and I was left scratching my head saying, ‘really? That’s it? That was how you’re going to play it?’. The explanation didn’t meet the facts presented or add up for the way Kate was being treated. Seriously, what was the point in drugging Kate’s milk if that’s how you were going to play it out?
Then there was the ending. It was another head-scratcher for me. After everything Kate was put through why would a simple argument, that nowhere matched the scope of arguments or even events that happened before this, provoke Kate to do what she did? Especially given that they had been living in accord for several years. It just didn’t mesh with me. If Kate was going to do it, I just felt like it would have happened years before.
Overall, as a whole, I enjoyed this one. I wish a few things had been developed a bit more and the ending could have been different, yet it still piqued and held my interest.
Are you a fan of gothic mysteries?