*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Springtime in the village means colored eggs, hot crossed buns, and a corpse.
As the vernal equinox brings welcome warmth and the promise of the coming tourist season to Wisconsin’s Northwoods, it also brings an invading Wiccan coven. Sheriff Jayne O’Shea isn’t worried about the witches. It’s the fact that her mother is coming for her first visit in nearly twenty years that has her on edge. Their reunion goes well, better than expected, and then a coven member disappears.
The other members don’t seem concerned. In fact, they’re so indifferent to the disappearance, Jayne is sure she’s searching for a body, not a missing person. The possibility of another death in the village is bad enough, but this one could mean the end for Whispering Pines. If Jayne can’t get her mom to see the lakeside community’s charming appeal, it will go up for sale.
Protected Secrets is book 10 in the Whispering Pines series, and while the mystery plot stands alone, you would miss out on a whole lot of character development and backstory by not reading books 1-9 first, so I recommend you do that!
As winter turns to spring in the cosy Wiccan community of Whispering Pines, Jayne – sheriff and joint B&B owner – has to face one of the most daunting items on her fix-it list. Her mother is coming to town. Regular readers have heard a lot about Jayne’s mum and her resistance to the appeal of Whispering Pines, and Jayne has to try to sell the community and lifestyle to her, or risk losing everything she has built up so far and come to hold so dear.
Luckily she has her newfound amity with her sister, Rosalyn; her solid relationship with partner, Trip; and her village friends to support her in her endeavours. Unluckily, the large visiting coven is stirring up tensions between the old and the new, and deputy sheriff Martin is struggling to handle the responsibility while Jayne tries to juggle her family commitments.
And then there’s the little matter of yet another dead body.
Jayne’s struggle to balance her duties to her two very different jobs, whilst simultaneously attempting to impress her mother causes her to doubt herself and her goals. And all the time, hanging over her head is the knowledge that something is wrong in Whispering Pines – something big – and it has been wrong for a long time now. Naturally, with everything she already has on her plate, it’s going to be Jayne’s job to try to fix that too!
In the course of reading this series I have become very fond of Whispering Pines and its community of people who found they didn’t belong elsewhere. Everything from the coffee shop to the inn is so enchanting that you just desperately want to move there, despite the horrific body count. Shawn McGuire also strikes the perfect blend between the paranormal and spiritual aspects of the community and Jayne’s pragmatic police-procedural approach, allowing the reader to maintain their own beliefs about events.
If you enjoy cosy mysteries with a magical flavour then I recommend the Whispering Pines series. I can’t wait for the next one, to find out what secrets Jayne will uncover next!
I was about to ask what the plan was when a noise, like someone playing an electronic synthesizer, came from… the lake?
“What the hell is that?” I whispered.
It did it again, and this time I thought of laser guns being fired in a space battle.
“What is that?” I demanded, and the locals laughed at me.
“Wouldn’t have believed me if I told you,” Reed said, “would you?”
“That’s the sound of ice thawing?”
– Shawn McGuire, Protected Secrets
You can find my previous reviews of the Whispering Pines series here: Family Secrets (#1); Kept Secrets (#2); Original Secrets (#3); Hidden Secrets (#4); Rival Secrets (#5); Veiled Secrets (#6); Silent Secrets (#7); Merciful Secrets (#8); Justified Secrets (#9).