Declan Treadwell, napping during the warm Italian August afternoon, with the shades drawn in his small apartment, was dreaming of Sutton. They were children and playing on the beach in Oregon. Their mothers were in low chairs, chatting like they did, sipping glasses of white wine, more friends than employer and employee. Roma and Declan are family, he often heard Constance say to Sutton. They’d all been together since before Declan could remember. His mother, Roma, had come to work for Constance when Declan was only eighteen months old and Sutton wasn’t yet born. Roma ran the house and took care of both Sutton and Declan while Constance wrote stories in the big office. But today was Saturday and they were all enjoying a day of play.
The sun was warm on his face. The waves crashed back and forth in nature’s music as Sutton buried him with sand, patting it with her tanned hands, her light brown hair in curls down her back. She wore a pink sundress; one strap kept falling off her shoulder. He counted the freckles scattered over her nose and cheeks, like flecks of nutmeg in a bowl of cream with a tad of vanilla. She was laughing, in the way she did, like cascading bells, and her face was alight, giving the world more air. "I need water to complete my evil plan," she said, patting the sand near his chest.
"You have to be evil to have an evil plan," he said, grinning. Sutton was his best friend even though she was a girl. She was such a girl. All she cared about was cooking and wearing pretty dresses. It should disgust him but she was so pretty. And sweet. When she smiled it was like the sun.
She threw her head back and let out a cackle, imitating the witch they saw on the movie, Wizard of Oz. Just last week they’d watched huddled together in her mother’s television room. Sutton was afraid of the monkeys and the wicked witch. She’d been sleeping in her mother’s room every night since. Sutton was afraid of things and Declan was brave. He was two years older and it was his job to protect her, his mother told him over and over. Sutton grabbed their plastic bucket, the red one with the broken handle, and ran toward the water. She knelt down, waiting for the water to come, the wet sand soaking through the thin material of her dress. After a moment, she fell to her knees, putting her face in her hands. Her body was shaking. Was she crying? Had he made her cry? Then he saw it. A wave was cresting, larger than it should be. A tsunami, like the signs warned. This way, the signs said. The giant wave would come and carry her out to sea, away from him. She would be crushed into the bottom of the ocean, mangled and broken. He called out to her as he twitched, trying to lurch his body from the sand that weighed him down. But he could not. He was stuck, as the girl he loved, the girl he’d loved all his life, was overcome by the wave and carried away. She screamed as the wave pulled her under, "Declan! Declan!" And then she was no more.
He awakened, his T-shirt wet with sweat. Sutton. Something was wrong.
Tea and Primroses by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Tea and Primroses by Tess Thompson is a 2014 Bookthrope publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sutton returns from a trip looking forward to seeing her mother because she needed to talk to her about her engagement to Roger. But, instead she is informed her mother has been in an accident and died. Foul play is suspected. Sutton is so blindsided by the sudden death she can't think about Roger. Not only that , her old lover Declan has come home for the funeral. With the idea her mother's death could have been a murder Sutton is unable to think of a single soul that would want to hurt her mother. When she began going through her mother's things she finds a story/journal/letter her mother wrote for her. Declan reads it to her and so begins the story of Constance's life.
Connie always wanted more than to live in a small town being married to the owner of the hardware store and raising babies. Her mother, a bitter woman without the ability to feel warmth toward her husband or daughter never supported Connie's dreams. But, Connie chose college, journalism and with the help of a special mentor, she became a very successful writer. But, the light of Connie's eye was her daughter, Sutton.
The story switches back and forth from the story of Connie's life to the present day. Sutton and Declan must come to terms with their feelings for one another after a six year separation and this letter/story from Connie is helping the two of the them open up about the past.
The story of Connie's life, her first love, her marriage, her best friend, who was Declan's mother and the unimaginable losses she suffered is just heartbreaking. I am on the edge of tears as I write this review.
While we are initially brought into the story by a murder, the novel takes a turn into another direction after the first few chapters. Without even realizing it , I was totally absorbed in the story Connie has begun to tell her daughter and the man that was like a son to her. I forgot all about the murder investigation. I forgot about this book being a mystery. This is an incredible and emotional story. True love, honor, sacrifice, tragedy and the renewal of relationships that should have been in place years ago all combined to make this one unforgettable love story. But, for those hard core mystery lovers, never fear.. the author doesn't forget about you and trust me, you will get one big huge shock as the pieces begin to fall into place. Certain thoughts might have crossed your mind as Connie's story unfolds, but trust me, you will never see this coming. I read many mysteries and crime novels and frankly, it's hard to pull one over on me, but I fell straight into the author's trap. This makes me want to read anything and everything by this author. I can't say enough nice things about this book. A+ or 5 stars.
Tess will be awarding an eBook copy of Tea and Primroses and Caramel and Magnolias (the first book in the Legley Bay series) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
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