THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES by Suzanne Rindell

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★

A suspenseful and page-turning descent into obsession, love, and murder in the wake of San Francisco’s most deadly earthquake–and Suzanne Rindell’s most haunting novel since her acclaimed debut, The Other Typist

Which wife holds the darker secret?

San Francisco, 1906. Violet is one of three people grateful for the destruction of the big earthquake. It leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy–if the secret that binds them together stays buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and orphaned, wallflower Violet reinvents herself.

When a whirlwind romance with the city’s most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history.

The cover of this book is so stunning that I had to read it! Suzanne Rindell has written a Rebecca-esque historical mystery set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Violet and her two best friends ran away from an orphanage the day it burned down. A few years later, after a dreadful stint working in the red-light district, the great earthquake strikes, and the girls come into an unexpected fortune. Their new-found wealth comes with the burden of a dark secret, and Violet, Flossie, and Cora decide to go their separate ways.

Violet reinvents herself as a proper, upstanding shop girl, and she catches the eye of the dashing and wealthy widower Harry Carlyle. The one sore subject with Harry is any discussion of his wife, the first Mrs. Carlyle. Harry and Violet marry, but life inside his mansion is anything but bliss.

The oppressive presence of the first Mrs. Carlyle is everywhere. What really happened to her? Violet hears shocking rumors about her fate, but should she ignore them and believe Harry? And who’s behind the strange occurrences happening at night?

THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES is classic Gothic suspense, and I enjoyed it. There were a few times that I wanted to scream at Violet for being so naive or not standing up for herself! Overall, though, it was an intriguing historical mystery with some surprising twists. Borrowed from the library.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Audiobook Review: SECRETS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE by Santa Montefiore

Format: Audio; 12 hrs, 42 mins
Narrator: Susan Riddell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Dreamscape Media
Released: August 20, 2014
Source: eBook review copy from NetGalley/Audiobook borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★

Ellen Trawton is running away from it all. She hates her job, she doesn’t love the aristocratic man to whom she is engaged, and her relationship with her controlling mother is becoming increasingly strained. So Ellen leaves London, fleeing to her aunt’s cottage in Connemara. Cutting ties with London society, Ellen gives in to Ireland’s charm and warmth, thinking her future may lie where so much of her past has been hidden. Her imagination is soon captured by the ruins of a lighthouse where, five years earlier, a young mother died in a fire. The ghost of the young wife, Caitlin, haunts the nearby castle. Unable to move on, she watches her husband and children, hoping they might see her and feel her love once more. But she doesn’t anticipate her husband falling in love again…

SECRETS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE transported me to the magical coast of western Ireland, and I savored the journey. I also enjoyed the story, even though I wanted to throttle the heroine several times. Ellen is a 33-year old modern woman, so I had no idea why she felt she had to live with her parents and do as she’s told. *scratches head* Thank goodness she ran away to Ireland to track down her mother’s estranged family!

Ellen’s time in Connemara with her Aunt Peg turned her world on end as secrets from her mother’s past were discovered. I enjoyed seeing Ellen’s character grow and mature throughout the book, though sometimes she was oblivious to the truth staring her in the face. I can’t forget to mention Connor, the brooding widower that Ellen falls for. He has some heavy emotional baggage, including the ghost of his wife who died five years earlier. Caitlin is still obsessed with her husband, and she’s none too pleased about him loving another woman. Other than Aunt Peg, Caitlin was probably my favorite character, and I loved seeing her transformation as well.

The audiobook was narrated by Susan Riddell, and she did well with the Irish and English accents, and the wide range of emotions the characters experienced. Anyone who loves Gothic romances, ghost stories, and Irish settings should give this book a read or listen.

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