Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Silencing Sarah
Silencing Sarah
by M. L. Cordle
5 Hearts
A novel of voices: gossip, ghosts and a mysterious drowning.

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing (October 2007)
Madison Owens returns to Virginia like a prodigal daughter only to discover that Will McGomery now has possession of her grandparents' land and cabin, a place she had hoped to call her own. Determined to undo this wrong and get him to sell her the property, she keeps visiting. Maddie feels a powerful attraction to Will despite the horrible rumors and the cloud of suspicion of his connection to the suspicious drowning of Sarah Chambers and his wife's suicide. Will wants nothing more than  the peace of solitude. The cabin is the perfect sanctuary to escape the town's rumors and the deep secrets of the past that haunt him. When Maddie arrives on his doorstep, persistently asking questions, Will attempts to warn her about the dangers of bringing the past to light. Maddie cannot resist her growing attraction to this recluse. Everyone blames him for Sarah's murder. When he hears the voice of Sarah herself, Will knows that he must act. Inconsistencies and personal relationships among the townspeople lead Maddie to believe that Will might be innocent despite the rumors, but his strange behavior also adds to the suspicion. Mystery, silence and innuendo surrounds all those involved with Sarah Chambers, that the truth may lie hidden in the hearts of a whole town. Can Will face the past? Can Maddie uncover the truth and stay alive? Can love speak across the divide between life and death and cry out for justice, not only for those wronged but for the future?

Madison's journey home to Virginia opens up a can of worms! Suddenly all the secrets and underground sexual liaisons that an entire town has kept below the surface now seethe and simmer in full view. From the first pages, the reader hears all the voices and the gossip directly in dialogue as family and townspeople the townspeople discusses Will and Maddie and the case of Sarah, speculating but not giving straight answers. The author extensive use of dialogue to set the story adds to the Southern setting, creating a location where people get together and talk and tell stories. As speculation about Maddie and Will heightens, so does the suspense as gossip unveils the personal liaisons and emotional attachments behind the enigmatic Sarah. Alongside Maddie, the reader starts to realize that something darker lies behind the town's more public stance on Sarah's drowning. As Will reveals the tortured past, can he find peace or forgiveness? As the author's portrait of Will deepens, the reader feels the contrast between the dialogged of gossip and the voice of Sarah haunting Will, a voice of truth that stands out amongst the gossip and destructive relationships. Sarah's voice speaks quickly, warning with an unusual directness and urgency. As the author moves into the narration of dreams and the supernatural, the language takes a more lyrical tone, creating a richness that contrasts with the dialogged. As the suspense heightens, Sarah's voice creates a spiritual dimension breaks through to a kind of justice beyond what the law might achieve.

SILENCING SARAH has a different tone than the standard fare in romantic suspense, a tone that kept drawing me deeper and deeper into her story. Although it might be a little less polished than some of the more vetted works in the genre, the author also takes more exciting chances, truly surprising the reader as the path to the truth narrows. SILENCING SARAH is unique, more cutting edge than the typical bestsellers, and quite refreshing to readers looking for variety within the genre. Will is not a blameless romance hero. Indeed, many characters are flawed human beings whose past tortures them. M.L. Cordle creates a vision of romance that extends outward and beyond, healing even those riddled by guilt and tormented by their past decisions and actions. This book might not appeal to those who want a more simple distracting read or something that complies with stricter genre definitions, but to readers, like myself, who enjoy exploring the more eclectic, and finding something unexpected, SILENCING SARAH appeals precisely because it defies easy definitions. M.L Cordle creates an exciting mix of romance, suspense and the paranormal with a gratifying depth of spirituality coming out of the twisted past. M.L. Cordle takes risks in the narrative style that worked for me, making SILENCING SARAH more meaningful. I loved SILENCING SARAH because it is the kind of book where I followed the book versus a book that followed my expectations.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews

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