Sarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House, despite allegedly witnessing the fatal fall. There was talk of foul play, dark whispers, and sidelong glances, all aimed at Sarah, prompting her family to send her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco, under a cloud of suspicion. Now, on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder, Sarah has been summoned home. Convinced of her innocence, she returns to Bennett House, hoping to put the broken pieces of her life back together. But when another murder occurs shortly after her arrival, Sarah once again finds herself a suspect, as she is drawn into a web of suspicion and lies. In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died. But as she works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.
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The Spirit of Grace
Sarah Bennett is returning home after a year spent in an asylum – one year ago, she was found next to her dead mother, with no memory of what happened. Much suspicion fell on Sarah, and it was hoped that the time away would trigger her memory, but it never came back. Upon her return, Sarah finds that her father has remarried, and, Grace, his new young wife, clearly intends to rule the house. She also had no qualms about helping herself to any of Sarah’s possessions while she was institutionalized.
Sarah struggles to cope with the changes in her home as she adjusts to life outside the asylum. Grace is obviously not thrilled to have her back, and is less than friendly to her. Her father is absent mindedly kind, yet as aloof as ever. However, Zeke, her father’s assistant, warms to Sarah, and appears to be her ally. A lot of suspicion is still directed at Sarah, especially when another murder takes place. As the story evolves, many more elements come into play. There are also rumors in town of spies, as it’s 1942, and WWII is happening. There are lies and betrayals close to Sarah, and a big secret about her past comes to be revealed.
I was interested in reading THE SPIRIT OF GRACE, because I had read it described as a gothic tale, though I would consider it more of a suspense novel with romantic and paranormal elements. . I would have liked there to have been more development in the relationship between Sarah and Zeke, and to know more about him. Still, right from the first page, I knew that I liked Terry Lynn Thomas’ writing style. She uses words in such a way to draw you right into the story and the time. There were also some unexpected plot twists which surprised me and added to my enjoyment of this story. THE SPIRIT OF GRACE is a solid, well plotted mystery which I’m happy to recommend, and I look forward to future work from Terry Lynn Thomas.