The Innkeeper's Sister (A Honey Ridge Novel) by Linda Goodnight - Amazon
Rating: Very Good
Description: Grayson Blake always has a purpose and never a moment to lose. He's come home to Honey Ridge to convert a historic gristmill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger.
Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright facade can't erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she's lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to resolve an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth, and hope.
Why I Picked This Book: I really loved the previous book from this author and wanted to spend more time in Honey Ridge and at the Peach Orchard Inn.
My Impression: This wasn't the easiest read for me. There's such pain and loss shown by 2 mothers - 1 modern day, 1 in the 1860s - and my heart hurt for them. The author makes the emotions so real without seeming overwrought or melodramatic. It's interesting seeing that while the circumstances of the mothers are so different that the grief is the same. It was so beautifully done that while it was difficult for me to read it added heart and depth to the characters.
Grayson and Valery are both interesting characters. Grayson has always been the more serious quiet brother compared to his more adventurous outgoing brother Devlin. I did really enjoy the brother relationship. Either could have resented the other but they didn't and they worked together incredibly well. Valery's relationship with her family is a little more complicated. It's clear early on that they don't have much faith in her ability to be reliable or serious but it wasn't clear for a long time as to why exactly that is and honestly I thought that her family - especially her mother - wasn't being fair to her or considering all the good she had done. Her past actions clearly still haunt Valery and it seems like her mother holds a grudge for something that doesn't really make sense. The guilt Valery isn't the most logical emotion but I did understand why she felt that way and it was easy to see how she had drifted into more self-destructive behavior.
I loved watching Grayson and Valery start to develop a relationship. They were so good for each other though they both have a hard time admitting that they need anyone. As well, I was captivated by the historical story line. Typically when an author has 2 timelines going I greatly prefer one to the other. This was not the case here and I was completely caught up in both story lines and connected with all the characters. This is the 3rd in the Honey Ridge series but this is one you could jump in anywhere. I've read the 2nd and now the 3rd and loved them both and never felt that I had any problems understanding what was going on or just who everyone was.
If you love contemporary fiction that focuses on emotional connections and isn't afraid to tackle some very serious issues this is a series and a book that you must not miss.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I really enjoyed this one and can't wait to read more from this author.
Would I Recommend this Book? I would. While it's billed as a romance to me it falls more under the Women's fiction heading and I think most readers of either genre would really enjoy this one.