Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Aspen House

 2 of 5 stars false1/2
Immediately after graduating from college, Miranda Morton suffered a severe illness. Now she has 100 dollars in her bank account and is on the verge of homelessness. That’s why she accepts a job she’s totally not qualified for: personal chef to rock god Michael de Bracy at a remote mountain retreat. Although Miranda expects to face challenges in cooking for de Bracy and his five friends, her real problems turn out to be much more serious: three people are viciously murdered with an ax during a freak snowstorm, and no one sees or hears a thing. Now Miranda finds herself stranded in the mountains with a killer. Even worse, she thinks the killer might be the man she’s fallen head over heels for, Michael de Bracy. Can Miranda protect herself and her heart until the police arrive?


****This book was part of a blog tour I was given a copy for my honest review****
Miranda got sick right after she finished college, now she has no money and won't have a home anymore. Her roommate/friends get her a job as the personal chef to Michael de Bracy and his group who are going up to a house in the middle of nowhere. When a snowstorm hits and three people are murdered Miranda doesn't know who the killer could be, all she knows is she has been falling in love with de Bracy and he could be the killer. Aspen House was a very quick read; I read the entire thing in less than two hours. The plotline itself was interesting and the author did a great job keeping you guessing at whom the killer was, however, the characters were one dimensional. Miranda was the only one who seemed to have any personality and even that seemed to taper off as the book progressed. There seemed to be no reason why Miranda and de Bracy ended up together, beyond her liking him before they even met. The ending was a bit anticlimactic and seemed rushed. If this book was a bit longer, the characters had more personality and the romance angle was explored a little more, this would be a great book. The core of the story is there, I just think some things got messed up in the execution. 

At lunch, Valdez seemed pensive, and McGillicuty decided to tell Miranda a story.
“Have you ever heard about the last few people who stayed in the Aspen House?” he began, with a curious expression.
“Don’t,” Valdez said shortly.
“Let the kid talk,” Perry grumbled, sticking some chew in his mouth.
Since Miranda figured McGillicuty had been talking to her, she replied that she had not.
McGillicuty set his book aside on the table and donned an attitude of someone about to tell a ghost story at a slumber party. “Back when this land was still part of the Spanish Empire, it was public land--the people were free to walk through it, harvest the piƱons, and hunt. In the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hildago, everything here was given to the people of the valley for their use.
“But then a wealthy man named Barklay decided he wanted this land for himself. So he sent people here to convince the citizens to sign over their land. Then, as now, most of the people who grew up in the valley and lived here spoke only Spanish, but the documents Barklay sent were in English. The people were told they were signing a petition to lower taxes, but instead they were signing away their rights to a man in New York--for free.
“Barklay built this ranch and moved in before the people even knew what had happened. To keep them from hunting on ‘his’ land, he hired the meanest cowboys he could find to guard the ranch. Once they encountered a shepherd trying to find a lost sheep, and beat him almost to death, dumping his body on the steps of Cordova’s courthouse."
“What did they do once they found the shepherd?”
“They killed Barklay.”
“Quite gruesomely, too,” Perry interrupted.
“They set fire to the house. Since the ranch owner had to use a wheelchair, he couldn’t get out in time, and perished in the blaze.”
McGillicuty allowed a moment of silence in honor of the dead man, then continued, “A new wealthy owner bought the land and rebuilt the Aspen House, only to sell it within a few years, as did the rich man who bought it after that. Some say that the house is cursed, and that the spirit of the first owner is too jealous to let the property belong to anyone but himself.”
Valdez snorted and rolled his eyes, then ordered the hands to get back to work. Despite his incredulity, however, Miranda found herself slightly spooked as the day wore on...
Author Bio:
Ellis Drake worked in museums as a curator and researcher for several years before she realized that she wanted to write mysteries.
Where to find Ellis: Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

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