From bestselling author Mary Ellen Taylor comes a story about profound loss, hard truths, and an overgrown greenhouse full of old secrets.
Adrift in the wake of her father’s death, a failed marriage, and multiple miscarriages, Libby McKenzie feels truly alone. Though her new life as a wedding photographer provides a semblance of purpose, it’s also a distraction from her profound pain.
When asked to photograph a wedding at the historic Woodmont estate, Libby meets the owner, Elaine Grant. Hoping to open Woodmont to the public, Elaine has employed young widower Colton Reese to help restore the grounds and asks Libby to photograph the process. Libby is immediately drawn to the old greenhouse shrouded in honeysuckle vines.
As Libby forms relationships and explores the overgrown—yet hauntingly beautiful—Woodmont estate, she finds the emotional courage to sort through her father’s office. There she discovers a letter that changes everything she knows about her parents, herself, and the estate. Beneath the vines of the old greenhouse lie generations of secrets, and it’s up to Libby to tend to the fruits born of long-buried seeds.
A southerner by birth, Mary Ellen Taylor’s love of her home state, Virginia, and its past is evident in her contemporary women’s fiction, from her first The Union Street Bakery, set in Alexandria, to her latest, Spring House, which takes place on the state’s Eastern Shore. In Spring Cottage and prior novels, Mary Ellen’s protagonists search for their place in the world. They explore issues of family, home and belonging, and their stories entwine with those of the locales in which they unfold, encompassing mysteries past and present.
Richmond born, Mary Ellen has lived there most of her life. She grew up in a family that appreciates stories of all kinds, from a well-told anecdote to a good yarn or a tall tale. Perhaps it was inevitable that she would embrace her storytelling heritage, walk away from her marketing job and challenge herself to become a published author.
“I realized early on the tremendous power stories have to inspire laughter, love, sorrow and even fear. It didn’t matter if they were found in the pages of a book, spoken in hushed tones around a campfire, or shared at an old-fashioned family reunion. Stories create connections, and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” says Mary Ellen.
Alongside writing, cooking and baking are important creative outlets for Mary Ellen, who’s been known to name recipes in honor of her characters. Just a few years ago, she earned her Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate at the University of Richmond’s Culinary Arts Program. “In some ways, I liken baking to my efforts as a writer. You need to learn the basic tools of the trade before you can push the limits and create a distinctive sweet dessert or savory novel.”
Her two passions —writing and baking—merged for the first time in The Union Street Bakery. Since then, she’s shared favorite recipes, connected to her books Sweet Expectations, At the Corner of King Street, The View from Prince Street, Winter Cottage and Spring House.
Mary Ellen is also known nationally as New York Times and USA Today bestselling suspense novelist Mary Burton. Together, they have published thirty-eight novels, with Mary Burton’s latest, I See You, debuting October 2019.
When not traveling or holed up writing, Mary Ellen spends time with her husband enjoying their empty nest and spoiling their miniature dachshunds, Buddy, Bella and Tiki.
The prologue on this story drew me right in. A young woman on the run, a dirty sheriff, a mystery, all the key ingredients for a great read.
Then chapter one happened and I was confused as to what was happening. A different young woman, in a different generation, divorced and recovering from the recent death of her father. Libby is a photographer and meets the owner of a generations old estate while shooting a wedding. She is invited to photograph the renovations on the estate and soon discovers several long buried secrets that could change everything she knows about her family.
While I enjoyed the author’s writing style, I found the book slow going and easy to set aside. That said, if you enjoy family dramas, this is a solid read worth four stars from me.
“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”