An inheritance and a threat turn a teacher’s world upside down.
Gwen McPhail’s longest day begins when she’s awakened by a threatening phone call. Then she finds out she won’t be doing her usual teaching at a summer institute. All the while, she frets about her beloved niece Tasha’s engagement to handsome, wealthy, worldly Dalton Madison, a man Gwen doubts shares their Christian moral vision. The biggest surprise of the day comes when she receives a letter telling her she’s inherited an estate on Candle Island from a man she only vaguely remembers as Uncle Jonesy, a friend of her father. Dalton, who has connections on the island, and Tasha go with her to see what turns out to be a mansion much larger than the home Uncle Jonesy left his wife and son. Out of all the house’s many creature comforts, the only one Gwen likes is caretaker Stinson Scott, an attractive, sarcastic, down-to-earth islander who tells her Uncle Jonesy fell to his death from a nearby bluff. Dot Jones and her son, Ron, have good reason to dislike Gwen, whom Dot suspects of being her late husband’s lover. As Gwen meets more of the locals, she becomes more enamored of the people and the island, though still not the oversized house, and hatches a plan to give it all back to the widow. Dalton, by contrast, loves the house and looks forward to settling down there. He even invites his family for a visit. Although Gwen likes Dalton’s mother well enough, the time they spend together only reinforces her doubts about the differences in their values and lifestyles. Gwen must unravel the mystery of Uncle Jonesy’s death and his strange bequests before she can find the peace she seeks for herself and Tasha.
The prolific Cuffe sisters (Maine’s White Pine Cone Conspiracy, 2015, etc.) have produced another character-driven Christian cozy better enjoyed for its romance than its slight mystery.