As a child, Torrie Reynolds entered the haunted Hargrove House on a dare. Terrified by what she’d heard while inside Hargrove House, she avoided it since. Now fifteen years later, Torrie is an interior decorator. When Will Dalton buys the infamous Hargrove House and offers Torrie the job of refurbishing it, she has no choice but to take the offer to keep her business afloat. As the house is restored and rooms come alive with character and color Torrie brings to them, her fear of the house fades. Hargrove House begins to even feel like home to her. With each finished renovation project, it is harder for Torrie to leave. It is even harder for her to leave the comfort of Will Dalton’s arms. But she discovers there are things more terrifying than ghosts when she learns why Will is digging in the dark, frightening cellar.
Everyone in town knows Hargrove House is haunted and only the truly brave will take up the dare to go into the house. As a child, Torrie Reynolds took up the challenge, entered the house, and heard it call her by name before she bolted. For 15 years Torrie has managed to avoid Hargrove House but when Will Dalton walks into her office with deep pockets and free rein to redecorate, she once again walks in to Hargrove House.
The moment Torrie takes on the Hargrove House restoration, everything goes her way. The contractors and crews she wants are all available immediately, the rooms seem to speak to Torrie in terms of decoration, and every item she wants for decorating is available and shipped instantly. Will Dalton made it absolutely clear, there are only two conditions, don’t enter the master bedroom and meet the December deadline. With the luck Torrie is having, the deadline won’t be any problem at all.
You know that phrase if it seems too good to be true, it probably is? Torrie does too and from the beginning, Hargrove House just doesn’t feel quite right. Torrie seems to be the only person who ever sees Will Dalton, on a regular basis she hears what sounds like digging from the cellar, and every time she leaves the house, she feels an incredible sense of loss. For every oddity, there is a warm, fuzzy: Will’s interest in Torrie is made clear almost instantly, the new house keeper is an excellent cook, and much to Torrie’s surprise, Will has children she adores from the very moment she meets them. As the deadline for the project goes ever nearer, Torrie begins to feel as if she won’t ever be able to leave Hargrove House and she just doesn’t understand why.
The Bottom Line: Hargrove House turned out to be an OK read for me. It’s hard not to get hooked when the opening pages have a little girl hearing her name being whispered in a reportedly haunted house and then running all the way home. 15 years later . . . from the moment Will walks into Torrie’s life something is simply off and every time Torrie begins to suspect or ask questions, Will has an answer ready to go. Even when another kid appears. As the plot unfolds (and I won’t be spoiling anything here!), it is easy for the reader to figure out what’s really going on and how everything is going to play out but by the end, there are some elements of the plot that aren’t adequately addressed or simply ignored. I found myself frustrated by the lack of explanation but not so much that it kept me from finishing the book and generally enjoying it. I tend to cut the author a bit of slack for a first in a series read and fully intend to check out the second book in The Haunted series.
Torrie needed to see the pink room in the falling light as dusk settled over the house. Again, she looked around the room. All it needed—besides the books—was a little girl. Absently, Torrie picked up the doll that someone had placed on the dresser. She placed the doll in its rightful place at the small table. “There you go, Miss Velvet,” she said. “Now all we need to get is a little tea set. And don’t worry; we’ll have real China, none of that plastic stuff in this room. Do you take cream or sugar?” Torrie pretended.
“You found Miss Velvet.”
At the sound of a soft voice, Torrie jumped and nearly knocked the doll off the chair, let out a startled cry and looked toward the door. Then she stopped short and stared at the young girl who stood there. “Who…Who are you? And how did you get in here? Where did you come from?” Torrie knew she sounded like a balloon letting out its air, but she couldn’t seem to catch her breath. The child had startled her so badly. And damn, she looked just like the little girl Torrie envisioned could inhabit this room. With Miss Velvet in the girl’s arms, the picture Torrie saw when she walked into this room would be complete. The idea the girl could be a child fulfilling a dare touched her. Torrie tried to tell herself the girl was too young to venture into the Hargrove House on a dare. But hadn’t Torrie, herself, been about the same age when she stepped over the threshold?
Could the girl be a ghost? She wasn’t transparent. She appeared as real as Torrie. Torrie even felt a strange pull to reach out and touch the child, to see if her hair was as soft as it looked.
“Eleanor,” the little girl said. She wore what was previously a green dress. There was a smudge of dust above her left eyebrow.
Torrie took a step toward her.
The girl stayed rooted to her spot.
“Eleanor who? And how did you get in here? What, did someone dare you?”
“I live here. I’m Eleanor…Dalton.”
Then the little girl who claimed to Eleanor Dalton turned and left.
It took Torrie eight steps to reach the doorway. And the by time she did, the hallway was empty and the little girl was gone.
Allie Harrison lives with her husband in Southern Illinois. By day, Allie works in the medical field, but when she clocks out, she hits the keyboard, crafting stories readers will love. When she isn’t enjoying fun family time, games with friends, reading, crafts, music, camping, biking, and hiking, she’s working to build fictional worlds and unforgettable characters.