Wright, Kristin. 2019. Lying Beneath the Oaks. Bella Rosa Books. ISBN 978-1622681433. $15.95 USD.
I was fortunate to win a signed copy of Lying Beneath the Oaks by Kristin Wright in a giveaway sponsored by The Debutante Ball. Established in 2007, the DB is a group blog for authors making their debut in the literary world. They are currently in their twelfth season of celebrating up-and-coming authors. Former Debs include bestsellers in the genres of women’s fiction, mystery, literary fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and more. This link will tell you more about it: https://www.thedebutanteball.com/
In her debut, Kristin Wright has written an entertaining and tightly-paced novel, which includes sympathetic characters with distinct voices, well-written dialogue, and enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages.
The main character, Molly Todd, has secrets. A lot of secrets. Somehow she finds herself waking up married in Vegas to a stranger - a Southern gentleman lawyer from a well-respected family named Cooper Middleton. Neither remembers any of it. Deciding to return home to Charleston to see about getting an annulment, Molly finds herself staying at Cooper's family home, and keeping even more secrets.
I enjoyed the fact that the author takes her time in unveiling all of the mysteries in this novel. A few I figured out before the end, but that didn't diminish the reading experience. Molly also has some amnesia about a traumatic event in her past, and the unraveling of that mystery was one of the big payoffs for me as a reader.
There's a antagonist in this book (I sometimes refer to them as "evil bads") who is almost over-the-top in his evil-ness, but not everyone sees it right away. One of the major plot elements is Molly trying to find a way to convince others of how bad the guy really is, as he's very good at keeping it hidden.
The romantic element is a slow-burn, with a few spicy encounters. I'm not an author, but I imagine writing love scenes can be a challenge. This first-time author definitely doesn't write like one, in any way, in her debut. Other authors, such as Linda Castillo and Sally Kilpatrick, have given this novel a nice thumbs-up, and you can see more author reviews and information about the book on the publisher's website here: https://bellarosabooks.com/
I enjoyed my time spent turning the pages of this debut, and I will definitely look for more from the author in the future.