A secluded island turned romantic resort, murder, a mysterious ring, an unknown woman in white, secret passages, cliff top struggles, old family legends of bloody hands, a locked room and missing key, romance and love that lasts beyond a lifetime. These are the elements you’ll find in Tammie Clarke Gibbs’ Island of Secrets.
Shane Alexander is a rich man with a private island and a big problem. After renovating his centuries-old family mansion into a private resort for the wealthy, his first guests flee the island complaining of ghosts, and spreading the story to news outlets. He summons a group of reporters to come to the island and see for themselves that it is not haunted. One of them, he promises, will spend a weekend at his luxury resort, all expenses paid.
Lila Fitzpatrick is a young woman who owes Cassie, her roommate and one of the invited reporters, a big favor. Laid up with a broken leg, and unable to take advantage of Shane Alexander’s offer, Cassie calls in that favor. Lila reluctantly assumes her identity and takes her place on the boatload of journalists going out to the secluded island. She figures she’ll take the boat ride over and come straight home, debt paid.
However, Shane Alexander chooses her as the reporter to spend the weekend and dispel the stories of ghosts. She soon finds herself in an eighteenth century carriage with an old purse containing a note of warning dated in the 1700′s and addressed to…herself! She slips on the ruby ring that is also in the purse, and enters Mr. Alexander’s renovated mansion, to find a group of what appear to be period actors, including Shane, discussing her.
Shane, having left her in the hands of his assistant, returns from his errands to find the reporter missing. She reappears briefly in the locked room, with the missing key. They find themselves drawn to one another, feeling as if they’ve known one another longer than a few hours, when Lila suddenly disappears before Shane’s eyes again.
Romance blossoms between Shane and Lila in the eighteenth century as they try to untangle the mystery of what is happening to Lila and Shane, who murdered Uncle Gustavus, and who wants to murder Lila, while the Shane of the present day struggles with the issue of the disappearing ‘Cassie,’ the real Cassie calling accusing him of kidnap and possibly murder, a police investigation, and his own flashbacks to memories of Lila and things he’s sure have never happened.
I found beautiful prose and imagery in Ms. Gibbs’ writing, such as The haunting silhouette of Winship Manor towered above like a savage animal, crouching in the darkness waiting for its prey, which made it easy to imagine the island, the old mansion, the roaring fires, dark passages, and clifftops. A compelling story line kept me guessing and pulled me along with several fascinating and unexpected twists. This was a fun story to read, and I look forward to more from Tammie Clarke Gibbs. If you like Gothic romance with a time travel twist, give this book a try!