The Official Description: Declan Kensington isn’t really in the mood for Christmas. His latest mystery book sales are tanking, his finances are in a dismal state, and his spirits are anything but festive. Perhaps spending the holidays alone at his family lakeside cabin in the small village of Maplewood, Vermont, will provide him much-needed peace and quiet. Then he might finally get to work on a new book and (hopefully) jumpstart his stalling writing career.
When he starts receiving anonymous letters threatening him to leave, Declan realizes his solitary writer’s retreat isn’t at all what he bargained for. And if the threats aren’t enough, a killer strikes, casting Declan in the role of the most likely suspect. Now it’s up to him and the handsome local Public Safety Commissioner Curtis Monroe to find out the truth before Declan spends Christmas (and the rest of his life) in jail. But as dead bodies pile up and dark secrets are revealed beneath Maplewood’s picture-perfect facade, Declan’s heart may yet be in more danger than his life…
Just the facts: Contemporary M/M holiday romance with a murder mystery thrown in!
A sweet romance that builds up around a tantilizing mystery! A great holiday read! – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit:I don’t read a lot of holiday-themed books, but I couldn’t pass this one up. I’m a fan of Isabelle Adler’s writing and was thrilled to see this book!
Declan is a mystery writer, but he’s come up against writer’s block and a real lack of vision for his stories. His last book wasn’t a success, and he heads out to his parent’s old cabin for some rest, relaxation and a quiet environment to write. The small town he arrives in is just as he remembers, and Maplewood’s residents are quirky and interesting.
Things don’t go quite as Declan expects! First of all, he receives some threatening messages at the cabin telling him that he needs to go away “Or else”. This leads the way for Declan to get engage the services of Public Safety Commissioner Curtis Monroe. As soon as there’s a dead body involved, things get complicated for Declan … and a little disturbing. He puts his mystery-writer skills to work to try and solve the case in Maplewood. Of course, he shouldn’t be involved in the solving of any crimes at all and Curtis attempts to keep distance between them.
This isn’t an in-your-face romance – and I loved that about it! Declan is interested in Curtis when he meets him, but this is a slow-burn romance with a reason! Because Curtis is working on a case, he vows to keep things professional between him and Declan. I enjoyed his sense of right or wrong and the fact that he wanted to keep Declan from even the perception of conflict of interest.
Declan is a very interesting character. He’s still grieving the loss of his parents and Isabelle does a great job of exploring that. Declan’s grief isn’t just about the loss of his parents… it’s about the loss of “family”. He will never be part of a whole family again…. and he’s on the run. He’s honest about his shortcomings… at least, he’s honest with himself. I liked spending some time in. his head.
Isabelle has hit a pitch-perfect balance of the elements in this book. There is some romance and there’s an intriguing mystery with a bit of danger. The small town is full of interesting supporting characters, and the descriptions of the lovely winter landscape made me long for a snowy retreat.
This is definitely one to add to your list for the holidays!
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Descriptions of dead bodies, death of parents in the past, violence, physical injury, murder of supporting characters off-page, the main character receives threatening messages
I received an ARC of In The Winter Woods by Isabelle Adler from The Author in exchange for an unbiased review.