WINTER COTTAGE by Mary Ellen Taylor


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Lucy Kincaid, a Nashville bar manager who wanted to go to art school, brings her mother’s ashes and German shepherd, Dolly Parton, to a town on the Virginia shore she’d never heard of until recently.

Just before Beth died of brain cancer, she told Lucy she had just inherited "some property" in Virginia, which would now be Lucy's. Lucy didn't know her mother had ever been to Virginia and wonders what the secrecy is about. The property turns out to be Winter Cottage, a mansion on hundreds of acres. Taylor (The View from Prince Street, 2016, etc.) takes more than 350 pages to tell readers what they can see coming in the first 30. Lucy meets Hank Garrison, a lawyer who's handling the inheritance and who, coincidentally, will inherit Winter Cottage himself if she chooses not to move in. Within a very short time, Lucy comes to decisions about the house; Hank; a 12-year-old named Natasha who needs a stable home; and her previously unknown father. There are inconsistencies beyond the way Lucy settles in so quickly after Taylor portrays her as too “restless” to stick around. For example, Lucy explores the attic and notes a trunk she can’t open without a key. Dozens of pages later she's back in the attic, where she and Natasha open the trunk just by pressing a button on the lock. Lucy and Natasha also watch videos Beth made of interviews with Winter Cottage’s last matriarch, Catherine Hedrick Buchanan, the woman who left Beth the house. Multiple storylines from past and present are rushed or never quite conclude, such as the identity of human bones found near Winter Cottage and the events that have driven Hank to want to “put everything on the line to bring this town back.” Lines such as “She finished up her eggs and dumped what remained of the veggies in the trash before washing the plate and setting it in the drying rack” are unnecessary to the story. Rather than allowing the action in a scene to illuminate characters' feelings, Taylor tells readers how to view her characters’ emotions, such as “Vulnerability and sadness drained the energy from Natasha.”

Pass on this one even if you like the shore.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5039-0388-3
Page count: 371pp
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2018


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