*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Things are heating up in Whispering Pines, and it’s not just the weather.
Sheriff Jayne O’Shea is on edge. Hopeful applicants have taken over the commons area, all of them begging to become residents. Villagers who left long ago have returned, causing an uproar among the locals. The slow burn feud between the sister witches has reached the boiling point. And her parents are acting just plain weird.
Fortunately, it’s time for the annual Beltane celebration, the last opportunity for everyone to gather before tourists invade the village for the summer. Attendees dance around the Maypole, decorate fairy chairs, weave witch ladders, and nibble Green Man cake. Good, innocent fun.
Except, this year’s fire festival is being held during the driest spring the Northwoods has seen in a decade. And like bees to honey, the event has attracted an arsonist intent on burning the place to the ground one little fire at a time.
Phew! Whispering Pines’ eleventh instalment is all go from the first page! More and more often we see our main character, Sheriff Jayne O’Shea, trying to balance the multiple demands of her personal and professional life, as the series reveals layer upon layer of secrets buried within the apparently-peaceful village community.
With this series, I would definitely recommend you start from Book 1 (Family Secrets) and read through in order, as both Jayne and the wider Whispering Pines community develop and change as the series progresses, and whilst the individual plot might stand alone, you miss all of the background and subtle nuances of the worldbuilding if you don’t follow the bigger storyline. Which, as the titles suggest, is all about secrets – old and new.
Jayne is experiencing Beltane in Whispering Pines, along with the village tradition of interviewing prospective new villagers. As usual, however, there is trouble bubbling just below the celebratory surface and Jayne has to somehow keep a lid on it, whilst also trying to defuse a long-burning feud and protect the village that she has come to love from being damaged from both overt and more subtle threats.
All of this, while still running her popular B&B with her partner (not just in business), Tripp, finding time for a social life, keeping an eye on her pregnant bestie, and trying to remember where she left her K9, Meeka! Never a dull moment for the sheriff – and founding descendant – of the Pines!
Shawn McGuire delivers a well-crafted mystery every time, but the draw that keeps pulling readers (myself included) back every time, is the warm, slightly woo-woo community she has created in this series. The characters are interesting and well-developed, and the setting is enchanting – I can’t help wanting to move there every time I read another story, despite the murders and mayhem. I’m sure a cosy, bookshop stuffed with books about Wicca, magic and mystery would be a perfect fit for the Council, even if I have to wait until next May to apply!
Recommended for fans of cosy mysteries with a female investigator as lead, with plenty of family intrigue, mild peril, and a large helping of spiritual mysticism. I can’t wait to find out what Jayne uncovers in Whispering Pines next!
“You can’t stop us from moving here,” a female voice insisted.– Shawn McGuire, Burning Secrets
I scanned the quartet. A man and woman, a couple if the way they held hands was any sign, had their eyes fixed on their leader of the moment. Another woman, with her jaw set in defiance, took in the council with a sweeping glance.
Five foot four, approximately one hundred ten pounds, wavy dishwater-blonde hair just past her shoulders, a ring on either side of her lower lip.
Lip rings worn that way were called snake bites. My sister, Rosalyn, had considered getting a set during one of her phases. I convinced her to get a faux set that didn’t require actual piercings.
“Actually,” Sugar replied to Snake Bite, “we can.”
“It’s a free country,” Snake Bite pushed.
“But Whispering Pines is a privately owned property.” I matched her supposedly intimidating stare. “My family owns this land. My grandmother formed the council decades ago to be sure all villagers had a voice, but being able to live here is by invitation only.”
Burning Secrets is available on Amazon right now!
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); Protected Secrets (#10).