A widowed newspaper publisher’s life falls apart when she finds a murder victim.
It’s been 10 years since Ava Logan’s police officer husband, Tommy, was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise Cole, who was 5 at the time, and Emma, who was 2. Although Tommy was abusive, Ava still feels guilty for having loved his partner, Grayson Ridge, who’s now the sheriff in their poor Appalachian county. Then one day she stops at her friend Trish Givens' mobile home to return her toddler daughter, Ivy, whom she’s been babysitting, and finds Trish’s bloody corpse. As publisher and writer for the Chronicle, she recognizes that she has a big story, but finding the body makes her feel she must accede to Ridge’s request to withhold any details of the crime scene. A product of a foster home herself, Ava is determined to keep Ivy out of the system. Luckily, her own former foster mother, Doretha, and Ridge help out while she waits for Ivy’s grandparents to arrive. Ridge is in an election battle with slimy, married realtor Ed Stinger, who’s hit on Ava several times but whose business and campaign provide ad revenues she’s not willing to jeopardize. He’s encouraged a local landowner to complain about the theft of his valuable ginseng in order to make Ridge look bad. As Ava investigates the story, she finds more to it than she expected. Trish was evidently selling it, but no one knows where she’d been getting her supply. Meantime, someone who apparently thinks Ava is getting close to the truth shoots at her and her children during a hike. When it turns out that Ivy’s grandparents don’t want her, Ava moves to adopt her while she tries to discover who fathered Ivy, hoping that revelation will provide the motive for murder.
The first in Willis’ planned series mixes murder and romance with enough suspects to keep you guessing.