Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
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?
Historical fiction is not usually one of my go to genres, but when this beauty showed up in my mailbox I was immediately interested. Besides the gorgeous cover, (really it’s stunning, more so in person) the blurb gave me pause. I’ve always been taken in by the 1920’s, things seem so glamorous and chic, but throw in a crumbling family mansion hiding old secrets and I’m in!
Twisted characters never cease to appeal to me, but when there is an entire family that is twisted and shrouded in mystery? Be still, my heart. Kate is a young woman on a mission to find a husband. Not just any man will do, he needs to be of a certain status and able to provide the sort of life she’s only dreamed of. She was raised by a single mother and their life was a struggle, so when she meets Matthew Lemont and he is swiftly taken by her, she’s thrilled. They marry very quickly and before she can protest they’re living in his family home in Chicago with his mother Hannah and sister Marjorie. Expecting to start her brand new fairytale life, Kate is overwhelmed and apprehensive upon their arrival. Lakecrest is not as grand as it once was, the estate gives off a very sinister and creepy vibe, then there is her mother in law, a very controlling and ruthless woman who Kate struggles to connect with.
Kate finds herself very isolated and lonely, so her boredom leads her to start digging into the disappearance of Cecily, her husband’s aunt. That’s all I want to say about the plot, but the gothic vibe of the book worked very well for me and I was reminded of V. C. Andrews, whom I read all the time as a teenager. Blackwell covers a variety of taboo topics here, especially for the time period, and there are plenty of shameful family secrets lurking inside the walls of Lakecrest. I love a surprise ending and this one got me, I really liked where Blackwell left things in the end. If you’re a fan of darker, atmospheric historical fiction, check this one out.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to Lake Union for my review copy.