RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Where All the Dead Lie by JT Ellison


Title: Where All the Dead Lie
Author: J.T. Ellison
Publication Info: MIRA 2011
ISBN: 978-0778312680
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Where all the Dead Lie This review was written by Darcy. This story was nominated in the Best Romantic Suspense category.

The summary:     

The headshot didn't kill Taylor Jackson. But it will haunt. In her showdown with the murderous Pretender, a bullet taken at close range severed the connection between Taylor's thoughts and speech. Effectively mute, there's no telling if her voice will ever come back. Trapped in silence, she is surrounded by ghosts– of the past, of friendships and trusts lost–of the specter of a lost faith in herself and her motives that night.

When Memphis Highsmythe offers Taylor his home in the Scottish highlands to recuperate, her fiancé John Baldwin can't refuse her excitement, no matter his distrust of the man. At first, Memphis's drafty and singularly romantic castle seems the perfect place for healing. But shortly the house itself surrounds her like a menacing presence.

As Taylor's sense of isolation and vulnerability grows, so, too, does her grip on reality. PTSD. Pills. Ghosts. Grudges. Someone or something is coming after Taylor. But is she being haunted by the dead…or hunted by the living?

And here is Darcy's review:

Don’t start reading in the middle of a series.

At least, that’s my usual mantra.

A big romantic suspense enthusiast, I had heard great things about J. T. Ellison’s books, but the titles were lost in my daunting TBR pile. (Pile? More like a black hole.) Volunteering to read and review the latest Taylor Jackson gave me the perfect excuse to procrastinate on everything else. (If my TBR pile and my to-do list challenged each other in combat, it’d be like one of those old school early season Power Ranger battles.) The only issue I had was whether I would enjoy and appreciate Where All the Dead Lie without the detailed backstory of previous books.

This isn’t the standard case of decision making when starting to read a new series. Where All the Dead Lie raises the bar. In the previous book, So Close the Hand of Death (A | BN | K | S | ARe), Taylor suffers a major injury and devastating trauma to her body and soul. It’s the same for ALL of the recurring characters. In their own way, each has hit bottom. They have to claw their way out through personal strength and reaching out to others. It’s brutally relatable.

I believe that is what struck me most about the story. The character Taylor Jackson and I met as two strangers, and as a stranger I was thrown into this horribly vulnerable time of her life. Going through that journey with her had an almost voyeurish feeling. But by the end of the book, I felt a bond with her. The kind two people have who have gone through something extraordinary together. If we never met again, that bond would never change.

That is a testament to the level of how real the character became for me. Great characters, great stories, they do that. It’s why we read, right? What I wonder is if I would have reacted the same way if I had read the previous books. I can’t say, but that curiosity doesn’t stop me from recommending Where All the Dead Lie to both fans and newbies.

Where All the Dead Lie has this beautiful gothic tone, going so far as to have the main character read Rebecca at one point. One of my favorite books, I loved seeing the hints of it everywhere in the story. (I am beyond excited for the musical opening on Broadway in October.) Even Taylor’s muteness put me in mind to the famously nameless second Mrs. De Winter.  Both women are stripped of a piece of their identity.

After much deliberation (I really did go back and forth on this) I’m giving Where All the Dead Lie a B+.  I have to take points away for some aggravation at how long it took Taylor to actually get to the friggin’ castle. I understood why she had to debate it, but at the same time I just wanted to shake her and yell ‘JUST GO ALREADY, WOMAN!’ Then at the end, the book wrapped up too quickly for me. As I said before, Taylor isn’t the only one having to heal and those perspectives pop up too. I wasn’t satisfied as a reader that enough was resolved.

Though, I have to say that J. T. Ellison saved herself from receiving some extremely perturbed tweets from yours truly for including the much needed and deserved epilogue. There would have been tears without it… Although, there were tears anyway, but good ones! Good reader tears of joy! I’ll have to wait and see if they make another appearance when I read it again with the rest of the series. Oh yes, now I HAVE to read them!

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks.

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  1. 1
    Karenmc says:

    I bought the first three books in the series when they were on sale, but haven’t read them yet.

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