Monday, September 7, 2015

Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman

Opening Paragraph: They keep saying "the body" and Flora thinks this might make her scream and never stop. Speaking in whispers that are not quiet enough, as men do, they say it over and over. "We can't have the body simply lying in a room here." "If we put the body in the bathing pool, then it might appear to be a drowning." "But when they examine the body they'll find no water in the lungs." And so on. All the while, Flora locked in the grim prison of her mind, unable to comprehend anything since she discovered the poor, pale remains, shivers against the icy breeze that licks through the open door and stalks the tall eucalypts that line the dark valley. 

Back Cover Blurb: From internationally bestselling author Kimberley Freeman comes a captivating new novel about a scandalous attraction, a long-forgotten secret, and a place where two women’s lives are changed forever.

It’s 1926 and Violet Armstrong is a waitress at the grand Evergreen Spa Hotel, where Australia’s glitterati are spending a winter vacation. Among the guests who remain are Sam and Flora Honeychurch-Blacks, a wealthy brother and sister ensconced in the hotel for an extended stay. Violet and Sam have an attraction that is as passionate as it is forbidden as the hotel closes down for the winter season. When a snowstorm moves in, trapping them all, no one could have imagined what would unfold. The group must let their secrets be buried by the snow, but all snow melts, exposing the truth beneath… Eighty-eight years later, Lauren Beck takes a job at a cafĂ© in the Blue Mountains, built as the first stage of the Evergreen Spa Hotel’s return to grandeur. There she meets Tomas, the Danish architect overseeing the project. As their budding relationship grows, Lauren discovers a series of passionate love letters dating back to 1926 that allude to a whirlwind affair—and a tragic secret. Lauren begins to unravel this long-forgotten mystery, but will discovering the truth finally make her brave enough to take a risk that could change her entire life?

Review by Mirella Patzer

Evergreen Falls is a novel about two women of two different generations - Lauren Beck of modern times and Violet Armstrong of the 1920's. Set in 1926, in the Blue Mountains of Australia, the base of the tale is a hotel/spa named Evergreen.  

Lauren works at a coffee shop in the Blue Mountains, running from a difficult past and struggling to maintain her independence. That's when she meets a handsome architect named Tomas who is refurbishing the Evergreen, now in decay. When Tomas invites Lauren to explore the old hotel with him, they stumble upon some old love letters signed only by the initials SHB to an unnamed woman. Enchanted by the mysterious letters, Lauren decides to delve deeper into their history and try to learn the identity of the two lovers. As the story slowly unfolds, her relationship with Tomas grows richer, more profound. 

The story switches to the past, 1926, where the reader is introduced to Violet who comes to work at the new and elegant Evergreen as a means to financially support her ill mother in Sydney. Her time at the Evergreen is not always easy and soon tragedy and hardship affect the staff and customers. Social class, prejudices, forgiveness, and understanding are all themes.

Bit by bit, the two women's secrets are revealed, as are their individual strengths and weaknesses. Rich characters, an indepth plot, and the fascinating setting made for quite the page turner. such rich and fully-rounded characters. Romance with a touch of mystery made for an exciting tale. I devoured the novel in two settings! Another stunning novel by Kimberley Freeman and Simon and Schuster!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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