What drove their family apart just might bring them back together… It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Pennsylvania hometown on the shores of Lake Erie. But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame–and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever. With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.
The Bottom Line: From the moment I stepped into the world of the McAvoy sisters, I felt on edge, as if some huge, world-altering event or long-buried secret was just around the corner. In many ways, that edginess, that tension heightens the intensity of the read and kept me turning pages. While this is predominately an in the now read, there are trips to the past which very much inform the present and illuminate the issues that permeate the McAvoy family. In truth, the problems the McAvoy’s face aren’t just between Delia and Lindy, but among the entire family. This story isn’t just about two sisters but about a family who has long buried their issues, ignored their hurts and grievances, and refused to acknowledge events from the past that are profoundly impacting their present and future. There is ugliness and darkness in the McAvoy family and with Lindy’s return to the fold, their mother’s growing health issues, and the rebelliousness of Delia’s oldest child, that ugliness and darkness is threatening to come roaring back into the light.
I can’t say I really liked this book, but I also can’t say I disliked it either. While I certainly had a great deal of sympathy for this family, I also often lost patience with the lot of them for ignoring and burying their issues. So many of the problems faced by the McAvoy’s and the hurt they all clearly experience could have been avoided by dealing with their issues, seeking help, and simply acknowledging the harsh realities of life. At the end of it all, this isn’t a happy story nor is it in any way uplifting or light. This is the story of a sad family who only deal with their issues and problems when they are forced to do so, and this kept me from really liking this read. From a technical perspective, I have no complaints as the author clearly knows her craft and there are no glaring errors in this read.
In the small town of Celeste, Texas, Mitzi Taylor has never quite fit inside the lines. Nearly six feet tall, flame-haired, and with a plus-size spirit to match every curve, she’s found her niche: a custom wedding-dress boutique catering to big brides-to-be with big dreams. Taking the plunge alongside her two best friends, she’s proud they’ve turned The Perfect Dress into a perfect success.
Just when Mitzi has it all pulled together, Graham Harrison walks back into her life, looking for bridesmaid dresses for his twin daughters. A still-strapping jock whose every gorgeous, towering inch smells like aftershave, the star of all Mitzi’s high school dreams is causing quite a flush.
For Mitzi, all it takes is a touch to feel sparks flitting around her like fireflies. She can just imagine what a kiss could do. Graham’s feeling it, too. And he’s about to make that imagination of Mitzi’s run wild. Is it just a hot summer fling, or are Mitzi’s next designs for herself and seeing her own dreams come true?
“Folks up north start off a fairy tale by sayin’, ‘Once upon a time’. And us southerners start one off by sayin’, ‘You ain’t goin’ to believe this shit’.”
Mitzi, Jody, and Paula have spent the past year building their new business, The Perfect Dress. With an emphasis on plus-size custom made dresses, the ladies spend their days making the wedding dress dreams of larger ladies become an absolute reality. With originality, flair, and a desire to see every client happy and beautiful, the woman have little time for anything other than their work.
For Mitzi, the work is everything and though she wouldn’t mind having a man in her life, there isn’t much time for such distractions. In truth, Mitzi hasn’t had much time or energy for thoughts about her non-existent love life until the day she runs into Graham Harrison, her high school crush and newly divorced dad of two who has just moved back into town. Oh boy! With Graham back in town, Mitzi is suddenly faced with many, many new possibilities and those possibilities are taking up brain space normally reserved for design and sewing.
As if encouraging her thoughts on possibilities, Graham’s twin daughters work their way into Mitizi’s life and heart in short order. With fire, sass, intelligence, humor, and a very real interest in learning Mitzi’s craft, the girls are always at the shop and that means Graham is always in Mitizi’s orbit. In short order, Mitzi, Graham, the girls, Mitzi’s family, and her partners become a tight social circle which is a welcome for Graham and his girls as they settle back into town. Being together on a regular basis creates all kinds of wonderful and welcome feelings for both Graham and Mitzi and with literally everyone in their respective lives encouraging the match, it’s hard for both to ignore the obvious. As with so many other things in life, the path to happiness isn’t always easy and for Graham and Mitzi, there are considerations beyond their own desires that must be taken into account before they can commit to one another.
The Bottom Line: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Carolyn Brown is my go-to girl in this genre!! Once again, I fell in love with Brown’s version of small-town life, endearing characters, and a plot that is just right for the genre. While this story is meant to be Mitzi and Graham’s love story, there’s so much more going on with the other characters including Mitzin’s partners, Jody and Paula, and Graham’s twin daughters. The multiple sub-plots work beautifully with the main plot line and really come together to create a more complete book full of love, friendship, and community. It’s the spirit of love, friendship, loyalty, and community that keeps bringing me back to Brown’s books. I always know I’m going to get a solid, emotionally wrought read with real problems and real issues that are dealt with by real people. This particular read has a great number of issues and problems across a variety of characters and every one of them is blended perfectly with Mitzi and Graham. Once again, an excellent read from an author who perfectly understands small town life, creating real characters, and helping each of them reach a lovely and well-deserved HEA.
This all started with a well thought out plan for revenge. For months I plotted against the Linscotts, and I vowed to avenge my twin brother and father’s death. I had Tatum Linscott kidnapped, and held her prisoner in a room with nothing but an old bed, and a cold cement floor to piss on.
The plan was simple—kidnap the golden girl of the Linscott family, then lure her father straight down to the hell I had specially prepared for both of them. And once I had my fun, extracted every last drop of revenge I craved from them, they would pay the ultimate price with their lives.
I wanted to watch them bleed on the tiled floor of my dining hall, witness the life drain out of their bodies. I wanted to slice the blade of my knife through Tatum’s skin, to see her body weep tears of crimson. But little did I know that her blood would feed the monster inside me. That her innocence marred with desires for the darkness would make me want her in ways that were completely forbidden.
She was the daughter of my enemy, and the blood my family demanded flowed through her veins. Yet, I couldn’t stop myself from being captivated by the blue eyes that seemed to plead with me to set her free from the prison society had put her in.
Her body called out to me.
The scars on her skin seduced me.
And ultimately…Tatum Linscott ruined me.
A few weeks ago I was kidnapped by an enemy I didn’t even know I had.
I was beaten.
I was starved.
I was humiliated.
My life held no value to my enemy, and death was promised with venomous threats of hate. Every minute that went by was a minute spared. I knew it was only a matter of time before a knife got driven through my heart.
But then something happened, and it changed everything. Somehow the line between captor and prisoner had been crossed, and I found myself in a world I never knew existed. A world where family and loyalty were everything, yet lies and deception were used as weapons against blood.
The Fattores built their hate, and their war against me and my family based on lies told by a man that I trusted once. A man I welcomed into my life, and into my bed. In the end it almost cost me my life.
While I was held captive I never could have predicted the outcome. What I never expected to find within the walls of lies that surrounded me was freedom. That was why I had to run…because Castello Fattore freed me.
Blood & Vows is the second and final book in my Twisted Duet series,
and should be read after Blood and Lies.
I’m sad to let Castello and Tatum go, but I loved every minute I spent with these characters. Telling their story has been the best part of my writing career so far.
Please be aware that this novel contains scenes of violence, and sexual situations that may be triggers, and make some readers uncomfortable. For some readers there may be scenes that are just downright disturbing. But you’ve been warned.
To all the readers who have fallen in love with the dark and twisted romance between Castello and Tatum, thank you for loving these characters as much I do.
“Hey, Angel! You got a live one there?” A man with tons of chunky silver rings on his fingers yelled over to our quiet corner.
“Fuck. Off. Saint,” Angel replied, swiping him the middle finger without even looking.
“Saint?” I asked, lips curling together. “And Angel.”
Angel winked. “And don’t forget Mercy. Must be destined, oui?”I smothered a smile, taking another long drink of my beer. “Well, I don’t think he’s a saint or you’re an angel. Not by the way those pretty ladies looked like they were competing for your company earlier.”
“You saw that?” Groaning, he rubbed a hand down his cheek. Then his face lit up from the inside. “So you were watching me just as much as I was watching you.”
I couldn’t help but laugh as he gloated.
Then I pressed my palm against his chest and lifted up to the toes of my boots to whisper against his jaw, “I was waiting to see if you’d get your eyes gouged out.”
He laughed loudly, tipping his head back so his gold curls shimmered.
I snickered, draining the rest of my beer.
“Buy you another?” His arm ringed around my waist.
And alarm bells went off.
I wrestled free, quickly checking the time on my watch.
“I have to go.” I slammed my bottle onto the nearest table.
“Didn’t mean to scare you off, Mercy.” Angel stepped in front of me as I waded to the door.
He held his hands raised in front of him.
I dodged around him, fleeing like I should have done an hour ago.
Running down the sidewalk, I tripped on the uneven pavement in my over-sized boots.
A strong arm banded around my waist, drawing me up and steadying me.
“Got you, beb.”
Puffs of breath pelted against my ear, and then Angel released me from his grasp.
He spun me gently around, his hair like a halo lit by the streetlight. “At least let me give you a ride. Where you headed?”
I shook my head. “I just need to go. Please.”
I got the feeling Angel L’Esperance didn’t chase just anyone. But I couldn’t let him get close to me. I didn’t want him knowing where I lived.
Shame and embarrassment bled into one big ball of regret.
His fingers came up to tenderly caress my cheek.
The first touch on my skin from a male that didn’t make me flinch or quake or want to crawl away in fear.
“Can I at least get a kiss?”
My heart leaped.
Angel didn’t pose a threat. How could he, with a name like that and sincerity shining in his clear blue eyes?
Even more, he’d easily tunneled beneath years of distrust and hurt . . . in mere minutes.
“Yes,” I whispered.
He closed his eyes. He hummed a deep rumbling sound. He bent his burnished head over mine, and seconds later the softest, most pleasurable sensation melted against my mouth. His tongue took a trip across the seam of my lips, sailing to a stop before he plucked my bottom lip between both of his.
When he drew back, I swore I could read dreams in his eyes.
It wasn’t a kiss. It was a promise. It tasted like hope.
Hope I couldn’t afford.
“How about your number, Miss Mercy?”
Hope became cinders in my mouth. “I don’t think so.”
Threading his fingers through his hair, he tousled the strands even more. “At least let me put my number in your phone.”
“I don’t have a cell phone.” Another thing I wasn’t allowed.
He frowned heavily at me before grasping my hand and squeezing it. “Wait here.”
He raced back to the bar, and I knew I should leave while I could.
But my lips tingled. I pressed my fingers against my mouth, remembering the firm warm pressure.
I wasn’t going to make it back to the Lair in time.
Half a minute later, Angel ran back to me. His grin didn’t make it to his eyes that time. He stuffed a napkin in my pocket.
“My number. Call me.”
He laughed curtly. “Whaddya mean why? I wanna see you again, Mercy.” Gathering my hands in his, he asked, “You sure I can’t give you a ride?”
“I have to go. I have to go now.”
“Okay.” He released me. “Okay.”
I turned away from him, pulling the napkin out to crush it in my hand. To hold it in my hand.
Dashing away tears that came from the deep hidden well within, I sprinted. I looked back once, and Angel still watched. He watched until I was out of sight.
I tried to keep my bearings. I hoped I got home before my kinfolk. Because something bad would happen if they found me missing.