Monday, August 7, 2017

Review - - The Innkeeper's Sister

The Innkeeper’s Sister
By Linda Goodnight
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Grayson and Devlin Blake have made a name for themselves as owners of distinctive restaurant. They have returned to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, where they spent childhood summers with their grandparents, to turn a nineteenth-century grist mill into their newest restaurant. While the transformation is taking place, the brothers reserve rooms at the Peach Orchard Inn (The Memory House and The Rain Sparrow). Grayson, a survivor of childhood cancer, is brilliant and driven. His spreadsheets, phone alarms, and clock-conscious life are ways to feel that he is in control. But when a human skeleton is discovered buried in the basement of the mill, he discovers how limited his control is.

Valery Carter was able to use the restoration of the Peach Orchard Inn to lead her sister Julia out of overwhelming grief and depression following the abduction of her young son. Julia is finding happiness again as the wife of Eli Donovan and mother to his son Alex, but Valery is unable to overcome her own secret past. Once a promising dancer, she has given up the art she loved passionately to expiate her guilt, but her demons still torment her.  Her nephew’s abduction exacerbated her guilt and her grief. The choice that is destroying her remains a secret, and she has turned to alcohol for solace. Her drunkenness intensifies her self-hatred. On the surface, Valery appears to be light-hearted and even frivolous. Not even those closest to her realize her suffering.

Grayson had a crush on Valery as a teenager, and his attraction to her is renewed when they meet again. He is wary of his feelings, fearing that Valery could break his heart, but he knows she is troubled and longs to help her. Valery finds Grayson’s combination of intelligence and compassion irresistible. She brings a needed lightness to his life and encourages him to return to the music he has abandoned. But it will take courage on both their parts to reach healing and happiness. They are helped by music composed by Patience Portland more than a century earlier and a mysterious old vagrant who seems attuned to Grayson and Valery’s lives as well as possessing knowledge of horrendous events in the history of the mill.

Goodnight’s third Honey Ridge book blends past and present in another seamless tale that will touch the hearts of her readers. Grayson is a wonderful hero, flawed but honorable and tender and possessing a great capacity for love. Valery is both fragile and strong, and her vulnerability makes her a sympathetic character to a degree that may surprise readers who may have viewed her less tolerantly in the earlier books. They are perfect for each other, different enough to supply needed balance but alike in their love of family, music, and history. I enjoyed seeing Julia, Eli, and Alex living happily as a family and the brief glimpse of Hayden and Carrie, who are preparing for their wedding. The story of Patience Portland and the slave Tandy, whose life, as he acknowledges, parallels that of the biblical Joseph, is also emotionally powerful.

Despite the many strengths of this book, I gave it fewer stars than I awarded the two previous books, both highly recommended in my reviews. Other readers may respond differently, but I found the lack of any resolution to the abduction of Julia’s son a huge disappointment. Goodnight explains her reason, and I respect her authorial autonomy. However, understanding did not mitigate my disappointment. I didn’t expect Nicky to be miraculously restored to his family, but I did expect some resolution.  Julia and Valery’s fear when the skeleton is discovered and their mixed reaction when the bones prove not to be Nicky’s were moving and poignant. But I wanted more closure. If you are a reader who enjoys stories that skillfully weave together the past and present with characters who are real and compelling, I recommend the book. But if you have followed the series, you may find it less than fully satisfying.


Do you enjoy books that blend the past and present?

Have you read Linda Goodnight's books?

Are you reading the Honey Ridge series?

We have a print copy of The Innkeeper's Sister for one randomly selected person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM (EST), August 9, 2017. (U.S. / Canada only)


  1. I haven't read her as yet but I have read about her stories and they do sound good.

  2. I enjoy books that blend past and present since they are fascinating and meaningful. I have not s yet read any of Linda Goodnight's novels but would love to.

  3. Books which involve the present and the past absorb me. I would love to read Linda Goodnight's series.

  4. It sounds good, and would love to read it :-)

  5. Sounds like I would enjoy it. Have not read any of Linda's books.

  6. I do enjoy books that blend the past and the present together This sounds like a very interesting book.

  7. I love stories which blend the past and the present together, especially when set in the South.


  8. I haven't read any of her books. I do really like stories that blend the past and the present. Thanks!

  9. I do like books that blend the past and present together but I struggle when there's no closure.

  10. I have not read anything by Linda Goodnight, but it sounds like I will need to catch up with this series. Blending past and present in a story adds depth and dimension to it. What happens today has been influenced by what came before. Thank you for the review. Another author and series you have added to my Wish List.

  11. I haven't read anything by Linda Goodnight yet. But it sounds like a great series. I do love reading series that tie the past and present together. :) Another series to add to my TBR pile. :)

  12. I have not read this author. Sounds good.
    Patty B43