Category Archives: Loretta Marion

Review: Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion

Title: Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion
A Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series Book Two
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural (Ghosts), Mystery
Length: 312 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a grisly murder, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of the killer.


Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion is a delightfully charming cozy mystery with a slight supernatural element. Although this newest release is the second installment in A Haunted Bluffs Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone. But I highly recommend book one, House of Ashes, as well.

With a storm bearing down on the coastal town of Whale Rock, Cassandra “Cassie” Mitchell  and Daniel Benjamin decide to postpone their upcoming wedding. Just before the storm makes landfall, Cassie stumbles onto the body of Lee Chambers. After the storm, everyone’s attention is focused on finding missing three year old Lucas Kleister. Police Chief Brooks Kincaid believes visitor Christopher Savage might be involved the young boy’s disappearance but Cassie is not convinced.

Cassie is a bit of an amateur sleuth but both Daniel and Brooks would rather she not become involved in the cases. But between the information she uncovers on her own and details from her reporter friend, Laura Prince, her curiosity gets the best of her. Cassie genuinely likes Christopher and her instincts are telling her he is not involved. However, as the police investigation continues, the evidence is stacking up against him.  But Cassie is a shrewd woman and she finally begins to piece together the disparate bits of information. Will she figure out what exactly happened to Lucas and who killed Wes?

Interspersed with events in the present are chapters that flash back to the past. Three siblings immigrate together from Italy at a young age following their parents’ deaths. As their lives go in different directions, they eventually become estranged. How do these long ago events figure into what is occurring in Whale Rock?

The various story arcs are quite intriguing but the sheer number of characters is initially quite confusing.  However, as the story continues, it becomes easier to keep up with who’s who. The investigation into Lee’s death simmers in the background as most everyone’s attention is on locating young Lucas.  The search for Lucas is heartbreaking and everyone remains hopeful he will be found unharmed. The story arc which takes place in the past is interesting but it does take a while to understand how those long ago events fit in with what is happening in the present day.

Despite a bit of a slow start, Storm of Secrets is a captivating mystery with a unique storyline and likable characters.  In the aftermath of the storm, secrets are exposed which leads to unexpected discoveries and heartwarming healing. Cassie’s great-grandparents continue sending her hints that guide her to some startling revelations.  Loretta Marion brings the novel to a rather low-key yet completely satisfying conclusion. A wonderful addition to A Haunted Bluffs Mystery series that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, Ghosts, Loretta Marion, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Storm of Secrets, Supernatural Elements

Review: House of Ashes by Loretta Marion

Title: House of Ashes by Loretta Marion
A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 350 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.

Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter—but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help—until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police—as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism—Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?


House of Ashes by Loretta Marion is an engrossing mystery with ghostly elements.

After her soon to be ex-husband squandered her inheritance, Cassandra “Cassie” Mitchell  is struggling to pay the mortgage on her beloved family home, Battersea Bluffs.  Having reluctantly received a loan from her older sister Zoe, Cassie is planning to renovate a building on the property into a rental cottage.  When a young couple accidentally wanders onto her property, she ends up striking a deal with Vince and Ashley Jacobson. With Vince and Ashley doing the reno work in exchange for room and board, Cassie plans to concentrate on her stalled work as an artist. Over the course of several weeks, Cassie becomes close friends with Vince and Ashley and she grows concerned when the couple disappear during an outing. Family friend and local Police Chief Brooks Kincaid is slow to help search for them so Cassie also puts in a call to the FBI. With Special Agent Daniel Benjamin in charge of the case, will they uncover the truth about Jacob and Ashley’s disappearance?

The narrative weaves back and forth between the events unfolding in present, the weeks leading up to  Vince and Ashley’s disappearance, and various time periods in Cassie’s great-grandparents Percy and Celeste Mitchell’s lives.  Cassie’s family history is a little dramatic since her great-grandparents’ marriage lead to a curse from Celeste’s spurned suitor Robert Toomey. In the years since Percy and Celeste’s tragic deaths, Battersea Bluffs has gained a reputation as being haunted and Cassie’s experiences with ghostly phenomena guide her as she searches for Vince and Ashley.

Cassie is a bit of a mess due to the break-up of her marriage and her financial difficulties. She is also fiercely determined to hold onto her beloved home. Her relationship with Zoe is fraught with tension especially since Zoe refuses to return Battersea Bluffs nor will she reveal what prompted her to move to the other side of the country.  Cassie is aggravated by Zoe’s frequent criticism of her choices but she does not let her sister’s negativity sway her.  And unlike Zoe, Cassie believes her great-grandparents are benevolent spirits who are doing nothing more than watching over and helping  their family.

Cassie is quite frustrated by the lack of progress into Vince and Ashley’s disappearance. She takes matters into her own hands and begins questioning locals who had interactions with  the couple. Some of the information she learns is useful and she is convinced some of them know more than they are revealing.  After the FBI scales back their involvement in the case, Cassie enlists Brooks’ help in an unofficial capacity and they gradually make headway but will they learn what happened to Vince and Ashley?

House of Ashes is an intriguing mystery with a clever plot and enjoyable characters. Cassie is a wonderful yet flawed lead protagonist who is a wee bit stubborn but incredibly loyal to her family and friends. Percy and Celeste’s ghostly presence is beautifully incorporated into the storyline and the glimpses into their lives is interesting.  With some very unexpected twists and startling turns, Loretta Marion brings this engaging novel to a very satisfactory conclusion. A unique mystery that I truly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, House of Ashes, Loretta Marion, Mystery, Rated B, Review