Addie Morgan had left her troubled sister behind years ago to begin a new life as the marketing director at a vineyard. In love with the owner, happily planning the launch of a new wine, Addie does not want to be reminded of her past, her sad childhood, and the mental illness that has claimed her mother and sister. It made her life hell as the one who had to take care of everything and make it all right. A phone call from her Aunt Grace lands like a bomb in Addie's life. Janet, her sister, has just given birth to a daughter, and Addie needs to come home. Janet has been roaming the country, not taking her medicine, and is in serious trouble. Addie reluctantly comes back to Alexandria for what she hopes is a very short trip to arrange for her nieces' placement in a foster home. Addie has no intention of staying, nor of raising Carrie.
But life is funny, and Addie's reluctance to face the past, and deal with Janet, comes to a head. Also adding to the mix is her Aunt Grace's decline in health, which has led to the potential closing of the family business, Shire Salvage. In between Addie's drama, we also get the back story of the roots of what Addie has always called the family curse: the mental illness that plagues at least one sister in each generation of the Shire family. How does an accused witch banished to Virginia in the 1740's and a doctor's wife living in Colonial Alexandria at the same time haunt the Shire women today?
This is a book that has many levels: the frustration and destruction mental illness puts on a family, the needs of an infant that can't be raised by her mother, a woman's desire to have a "normal" life, and for a bit of lightness, the fascinating history of a city that has many secrets to keep. Characters from the Union Street Bakery novels are part of this one, too. Mary Ellen Taylor has the potential to create a series of novels that bring to mind the world building of Debbie Macomber and her Rose Harbor and Blossom Street series of novels.
Definitely for fans of Karen White! If you loved the Union Street Bakery novels, you'll be thrilled to have another treat. The next novel in the Shire Salvage series comes out in January:
Rating: 7/10 for a tale of a family curse, a woman's search for happiness, and compelling characters. Makes you want to pack your bags for Alexandria.
Available in paperback and ebook.