A GHOSTLY LIGHT by Juliet Blackwell

Series: Haunted Home Renovation, #7
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

In the latest mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Give Up the Ghost, it will take a beacon of ghostly intervention to guide contractor Mel Turner to the truth.

Dangerous tides ahead…

When her friend Alicia hires Turner Construction to renovate a historic lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay, Mel Turner can’t wait to get her hands dirty. Alicia plans to transform the island property into a welcoming inn, and while Mel has never attempted a project so ambitious—or so tall—before, she’s definitely up for the challenge.

But trouble soon arises when Alicia’s abusive ex-husband shows up to threaten both her and Mel, and later turns up dead at the base of the lighthouse stairs. With no other suspects in sight, things start looking choppy for Alicia. Now, if Mel wants to clear her friend’s name, she’ll need the help of the lighthouse’s resident ghosts to shine a light on the real culprit…

This is the seventh book in the Haunted Home Renovation series, starring Mel Turner, renovator extraordinaire. Her unique specialties are restoring historic places around the San Francisco area, communicating with ghosts, and solving murder mysteries that frequently pop up on her construction sites.

I greatly enjoyed Mel’s latest project, the restoration of a lighthouse and its keeper’s house in San Francisco Bay. The rich history and romance of lighthouses are fascinating, though tragedy and grief are parts of their past too, as Mel quickly discovers.

There are really two mysteries in this book to solve. The first involves the death of Mel’s friend Alicia’s ex-husband, an abusive jerk who shows up on the island unexpectedly and takes a fatal tumble down the lighthouse stairs. The second (and my favorite mystery) is about the mournful ghost who haunts the tower. Hers is a heart-wrenching story, and I easily got into the research Mel had to do to get all the pieces to fit.

A GHOSTLY LIGHT is an enjoyable cozy with likable characters, and the paranormal element makes it even more intriguing. I’ve read one previous book in this series, so I knew some of the backstory, but I think you’d be fine jumping in here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

LETTERS FROM PARIS by Juliet Blackwell

Letters from Paris
LETTERS FROM PARIS by Juliet Blackwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is the perfect read to wrap up the summer! Who wouldn’t want a last-minute getaway to Paris, even if you’re just an armchair traveler? LETTERS FROM PARIS is Juliet Blackwell’s second contemporary novel set in the City of Lights. In this story, her inspiration comes from the mask of L’Inconnue de la Seine, a famous work of art from the turn of the last century. It was so interesting learning about the mask! Turns out I’ve seen her face many times before, but didn’t realize it.

The story unfolds in alternating time periods. In the 1890s, a young country girl named Sabine comes to Paris to escape her cruel stepfather, only to find the city can be just as cruel. In present day, Claire Broussard travels to Paris from Louisiana to trace the origins of a mysterious broken mask found in her grandmother’s attic. I enjoyed how the two story lines intertwined with a couple of very surprising twists. LETTERS FROM PARIS is a lovely blend of mystery, family secrets, art, history, and second chances, with the city of Paris as its star. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE PARIS KEY by Juliet Blackwell

Publisher: NAL
Released: September 1, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

I’m a longtime fan of Juliet Blackwell’s cozy mysteries, so I was excited about her first foray into mainstream fiction. THE PARIS KEY is a poignant story about family secrets, loss, moving forward, and, of course, the beauty of Paris.

The story is told from the point of view of two women, Genevieve and her mother, Angela, in different time periods. Paris has been a refuge for them both, especially to Genevieve, first after her mother’s death, and now at the end of her marriage. Angela briefly left her family and fled to Paris many years earlier, and Genevieve was in for quite a shock at what went on during her mother’s stay. It’s hard to keep secrets buried, even ones locked away in the abandoned tunnels below Paris.

The author’s rich descriptions of life in Paris drew me in – the culture, food, people, and interesting sights. I especially loved that the author made Genevieve’s experiences as an American in Paris realistic. She struggled with the language, some customs, and the bureaucracy, but in the end, it was all worth it.

THE PARIS KEY is a lovely story about a woman coming to terms with her mother’s past and reinventing herself in the process, sure to delight fans of contemporary women’s fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.