Early Review: The Memory House by Linda Goodnight

31 The Memory House

The Memory House by Linda Goodnight
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 31st, 2015
ARC provided by Netgalley and Harlequin

Synopsis from Goodreads: Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley–though tragedy took away both years ago. Finding comfort in the routine of running the Peach Orchard Inn, she lets the historic, mysterious place fill the voids of love and family. No more pleasure of a man’s gentle kiss. No more joy in hearing a child call her Mommy. Life is calm, unchanging…until a stranger with a young boy and soul-deep secrets shows up in her Tennessee town and disrupts the loneliness of her world.

Julia suspects there’s more to Eli Donovan’s past than his motherless son, Alex. There’s a reason he’s chasing redemption and bent on earning it with a new beginning in Honey Ridge. Offering the guarded man work renovating the inn, she glimpses someone who–like her–has a heart in need of restoration. But with the chance discovery of a dusty stack of love letters buried within the lining of an old trunk, the long-dead ghosts of a Civil War romance envelop Julia and Eli, connecting them to the inn’s violent history and challenging them both to risk facing yesterday’s darkness for a future bright with hope and healing.

Angie’s Review – 3.5 Skulls – B

The Memory House is a telling of two stories – one in the past and one in the present taking place in the same location – Peach Orchard Farm. The second I read this blurb for this book, I was intrigued. It had a ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ feel that made me pick it up!

This was a story of second chances and of finding healing, in whatever capacity you’re able to accept it. The current story revolves around Eli, an ex-con learning to navigate the shaky grounds of society as well as being a single father, and Julia, a woman who lost her son in a way that could never allow her to find resolution. The past introduces Charlotte – a vicar’s daughter who traveled overseas in order to marry.

My favorite character in this story was Eli. He led a very privileged life right up until he went to prison, but he lost more than that; everyone he’d loved walked away from him. What made him so wonderful to read was that he came out of prison completely stripped of that sense of entitlement. He could have returned home and played on sympathy in an effort to get a hand out, but he didn’t. He was going to work hard to make a decent life for him and the son he’d just met. Despite his past and his lack of parental guidance, Eli was making every attempt to be a good father for his son. The evolution of their relationship was beautiful to read.

A pair of courting bluebirds caught Eli’s eye as they dipped and flirted. He smiled a little, though the action felt stiff and unfamiliar. Since his release, he’d been mesmerized by nature. The rising sun, a fluttering butterfly, a dog sniffing tires. Nature brought a peace, a rightness to his tumultuous soul. In his despair and self-pity, he’d forgotten those simple gifts he’d once taken for granted.

Julia was tough to read about. Losing a child is earth-shattering, and it’s something that can’t possibly be understood unless it’s something you’ve experienced. Even then, every situation is different. This is a woman who has worked hard to retain some semblance of life. She has to make the effort to get out of bed every day and trod on, but she does it. She does it with a smile, and she does it with kindness. She was an admirable character.

After leaving a family who’d shown her love and patience, Charlotte came to America to marry. Though her life wasn’t easy and her husband wasn’t affectionate (or particularly kind,) she was content with her life until her home was commandeered by Yankees during the Civil War. To her surprise, she found kindness from an unlikely source – Yankee Captain William Gadsden. It wasn’t until she met and spent time with him that she realized how different her life could be. What I liked about Charlotte was that she always stayed true to her morals, even when those around her didn’t deserve it. It tells you a lot about someone’s character when they don’t allow the events going on around them change who they are at their core.

The imagery this story inspires is stunning. The fact that it takes place on a Peach Orchard alone brings to mind lush, green landscape lined with trees and hints of orange and brown. This story had the elements of small town living: everyone knows (or at least knows of) everyone else, gossip abounds, and the town drunk likes to makes trouble. I really enjoyed the pacing. In both stories, things progressed slowly and deliberately. Every scene was created to give us more insight into our characters. The ending left me a bit unsatisfied for a few reasons. First, there was a paranormal component to the story that I wish had been explored more. The second reason includes a spoiler, so read at your own risk.

Hey people? This is a spoiler--Fair Warning!

I thought The Memory House was a wonderful story of perseverance and love. There was a gentleness in the way it was told that made it feel fragile, as if it was important to get everything just right. If you’re a fan of stories where the characters have to rebuild their lives and establish new relationships, this one is right up your alley.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½

Thank you to HARLEQUIN and Netgalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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