Review: House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

houseofsilence

December 27th 2016                               Kensington Publishing Corporation

ISBN 1496706080                                      Rating 4*

In the setting of Oak Park, Illinois, 1875 young Isabelle Larkin’s future seems to be set. She is engaged to the very handsome, charming, and politically ambitious Gregory Gallagher.  Isabelle envisions her happy future to be one of  a grand house, becoming an important political hostess and filling her home with wealth and beautiful children.  But then she witnesses a murder of a young maid being strangled by her very own fiancé.  When she tries to tell her mother and the doctor who cares for her, no one wants to believe her, and worst of all her mother continues to insist that she go through with her marriage to Gregory who denies it all.

Fearing for her life, Isabelle thinks of only one escape, she will pretend a mental breakdown that renders her mute and forces her mother to whisk her away to the Bellevue sanitarium.  After many episodes of trying to convince the doctor that she is indeed unstable and not ready to be released Isabelle does make the acquaintance and friendship with a fellow patient, Mary Todd Lincoln who was committed years after her husband’s assassination.  After a time, Isabelle and Mrs. Lincoln become unlikely allies where Isabelle is able to share her secrets, she must still continue her charade of mentally unstable because her mother refuses to give up her dreams of Isabelle marrying Gregory.

*** The threads of real life and fiction woven together made HOUSE OF SILENCE a fascinating read and the details of what life was like in the Bellevue Sanitarium were quite interesting – much different than what I expected and yet so much more.  Where I expected some of the cruelty and inhumanity associated with mental issues in the early century, Bellevue was like a rest home with assigned tasks to try to keep the patients relaxed. The author gave enough of background information  for some of the other patents that made this even more of story than just Isabelle trying to stay hidden and alive away from Gregory.

However, in the end it was a real thrill with edge of the seat action as the madness of Gregory came to the forefront and the reasons for it became exposed.   Bottom line:  HOUSE OF SILENCE was a truly interesting and well paced book that kept me up until the wee hours.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Tycoon By Joanna Shupe

tycoon-shupe

Series: The Knickerbocker Club   Print Length: 102 pages

Publisher: Zebra (February 23, 2016)  Sold by: Penguin Random House

ASIN: B00Y6RB2TQ Rating:  5*

Obviously at 102 pages this was a quick read, but regardless of the length, TYCOON was an excellent read and one I totally enjoyed.   Starting it,  I hadn’t realized that TYCOON was novella length but the writing was so crisp and dialogs so witty that I just immersed myself to enjoy a great story.

Ted Harper was simply minding himself on a train platform when a beautiful young lady rushed up to embrace him and give him a smack on the cheek and talking a mile a minute so that he couldn’t get a word in edgewise!

Clara Dawson, shop girl from a department store hadn’t been intending to board a train fleeing from New York but after witnessing her bosses murder by a notorious politician and his police bodyguard who would believe her!

The chemistry between Ted the stranger, and Clara was great especially when he offered her a seat in his private car.  He’s everything she ever desired even if a little stiff, but as a very nice bank clerk, she supposed that was how he should be. However as the danger slips in and Clara doesn’t tell him the truth of why she’s anxious to leave the city, Ted  suspects she is just another female trying to ambush him into marriage.  By the time he does come to believe her story, will it be too late to see her and lose the one female he has come to adore?

Bottom Line:   I loved this story, the character fleshing, and great writing!  Can’t wait to read more of the Knickerbocker Club!

Marilyn Rondeau