Her Deadly Inheritance, by Beth Ann Ziarnik (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2016)
Runaway Jill Shepherd comes home just before she’s declared her legally dead – which blocks her Aunt Lenore’s dream of finally owning Windtop, the historic family mansion.
Jill’s only living family is hostile, dysfunctional… and possibly dangerous. Was her mother’s death really a suicide, or could it have been murder?
Resident handyman Clay Merrick is searching for evidence of murder, and he’s afraid Jill has walked into danger. The problem is, Jill believes God told her to return and reconcile with her family. Despite their behaviour, she won’t leave.
The inheritance in question is a gorgeous old home on Lake Superior, which Clay has nearly finished restoring. Jill doesn’t want it, not at the expense of relationship with her aunt and uncle, but her offer to share the house only makes things worse.
The characters are appealing, the mystery intriguing, and the romance well-balanced to not overshadow the suspense. Jill is a very caring person, and the way she reaches out to people she’s angry with isn’t typical. She still struggles, though, when it seems God wants her to forgive her mother’s murderer.
The novel includes significant talk of faith, which flows naturally from the characters involved. God is part of the story, making His will known in a variety of ways that Christian readers will recognize. As such, He’s part of the solution, but not in a deus-ex-machina-ruining-the-story way. The believing characters still have choices to make: will they obey God, or choose their own way? The unbelieving characters don’t even know He’s speaking.
Certain questions left unanswered at the end point the way to a sequel, and it’s one I’ll want to read.
Her Deadly Inheritance is author Beth Ann Ziarnik’s debut novel. She’s also active on her website, bethziarnik.com, and her blog, bethziarnik.wordpress.com. You can read my interview with the author here: Interview: Beth Ziarnik.
[Review copy from my personal library.]