My day usually starts in one of two ways:
a) I wake up my daughter, Lucy, in which case she’s grumpy and the day is off to a slow start, or
b) Lucy wakes me up, in which case I’m tired but happy and the day is off and running. Just like Lucy.
After I take her to preschool in Charleston, I usually head straight back to the manor where we’re living right now. It’s called Peppernell Manor and I’ve been hired to restore it to the way it might have looked during the days before the Civil War. The house is beautiful, but it’s been neglected and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work on it.
I have a detailed plan for the restoration and I work hard on the floors, the ceilings, the walls, and the trim. You name it, I work on it. It can be a dirty, grimy job, but I love what I do and the reward is seeing an old home get a new lease on life.
So my days are planned and predicable, right?
Something’s not right at Peppernell Manor. The family is divided over its future: Cora-Camille, the Peppernell matriarch, has hinted that she plans to change her will to leave the management of the property to the state of South Carolina. Other members of the family think the property should be administered by a for-profit investment group (the family will stand to make more money that way). I try not to get involved, but emotions run high and sometimes I wonder if Cora-Camille is safe in her own home.
I wonder if Lucy and I are safe here, too. There have been some frightening incidents since we arrived, and I don’t know who’s behind them. I don’t want to leave the restoration of Peppernell Manor unfinished, but protecting Lucy is my top priority.
Cora-Camille’s granddaughter, Evie, is one of my best friends. I love Evie dearly, but on top of everything else that’s going on, she wants me to start dating again. I’ve been anti-men since my divorce (my ex-husband left me for a stripper – that still stings), so Evie is a bit more enthusiastic about my love life than I am. But we’ll see. . .
Add to all of that the house manager who talks to ghosts, and you can see why my days don’t always go exactly as planned.
Did I mention it is hurricane season?
You can read more about Carleigh in The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, published by Kensington.
Outside of Charleston, South Carolina, beyond hanging curtains of Spanish moss, at the end of a shaded tunnel of overarching oaks, stands the antebellum mansion of Peppernell Manor in all its faded grandeur. At the request of her friend Evie Peppernell, recently divorced Carleigh Warner and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house to refurbish the interior. But the tall white columns and black shutters hide a dark history of slavery, violence, and greed. The ghost of a former slave is said to haunt the home, and Carleigh is told she disapproves of her restoration efforts. And beneath the polite hospitality of the Peppernell family lie simmering resentments and poisonous secrets that culminate in murder—and place Carleigh and her child in grave danger. . .
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About the author
Amy M. Reade grew up in northern New York. After graduating from college and law school, she practiced law in New York City before moving to southern New Jersey, where she lives now with her husband, three children, dog, and two cats. She writes full time and is also the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, a novel of romantic suspense set in the Thousand Islands region of New York. She is currently working on her third and fourth novels, set in Hawaii and Cape May, New Jersey, respectively. She loves cooking, reading, and traveling, and is entranced by the beauty and charm of the South.