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Secrets in the Hollow: A Sleepy Hollow Novel by Barbara Dullaghan is a Toasty Reads Bookish Event pick #SleepyHollow #fiction #toastyreads #giveaway

Title: Secrets in the Hollow: A Sleepy Hollow Novel


Author: Barbara Dullaghan


Genre: Fiction, Mystery


Book Blurb:


Carrie Peters is a forty-year-old riddled with guilt and secrets, struggling to understand how she and her ex-boyfriend could have gotten things so wrong. Carrie’s life is complicated when she returns to her hometown of Sleepy Hollow after her parents die. She still feels tremendous guilt for the deaths of her high school friends as a result of her indiscretions. Her best friend, a homicide detective, grows increasingly concerned about her erratic behavior.


Carrie has no one to turn to except her ex-boyfriend because he shares her secrets. But she finds it too painful to connect with him. He is a constant reminder of the life she lived and tried to leave behind. Carrie needs to deal with her guilt, but to do so she may have to confess her part in a life-changing incident and possibly risk her freedom.


Excerpt from Chapter 16   A Face in the Window:


          The first morning in April, I found a large manila envelope on my doorstep when I got back from my run. I saw the return address, then grabbed onto the railing to keep from falling. It read Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York. Jake. I hadn't heard a thing from him in fifteen, no twenty years. I turned the envelope over. No postmark.


          No way I can open that right now. How the hell could Jake send me a letter?     


          I shoved the envelope under the pile of mail. The dishes in the sink became a surprising priority. I emptied and refilled the dishwasher and waited for the package to explode or something. Then I heard the beep from the dryer and started to fold and hang up laundry. But I knew it was there. The envelope. I needed to work up courage to open it. My chest felt like it seized up.  I started to dry heave before I even got to the bathroom.


          How am I going to face this? This can't be good news, right?


          I picked up the envelope from the desk and walked out to the sunroom.


          The return address was confusing and alarming. Jake had committed suicide in prison in 1970. He hung himself with bedsheets. Another thing Danny and I had never discussed. I wrote him in Vietnam but he never responded to my letter.


          I went to the dining room and found a bottle of Scotch whiskey in the bar. My father always kept it stocked with the "best liquor money can buy," he used to say. I didn't care that it was 9:30 in the morning. I needed it.


          After pouring myself a shot, I looked long and hard at that sweet liquid in the glass. I closed my eyes, put the glass to my nose and took a strong whiff. Then I savored the taste. The burning in my chest gave me courage. I ripped open the package. Inside were two envelopes. The crinkled, tattered one was addressed to my maiden name with my parents' address from twenty years ago that had been returned to sender. They must not have accepted it because it came from the prison.  It looked nasty and smelled like smoke.


          One more drink to get through this.


          I poured another drink and opened the letter. Jake proclaimed his appreciation to me for visiting him in jail and writing to him. He apologized for kissing me when I was so vulnerable. I could almost see his face. And then I needed another swig to clear my head of those cobwebs.


          Barely able to stop my hands from trembling, I opened the second envelope addressed only with my first name. This one appeared newer and cleaner than the first. He said he had missed me over the years. The letter ended by saying he hoped we would be reunited soon.


          As I sat back to finish the last of my drink and think about the letters, I glanced up.


          And choked. And spit out my drink all over the papers and table.


          An image in the window. A face. Jake's face!


          I screamed and stood up, knocking the table and spilling the drink all over me. As I looked back toward the window, the image was gone. I ran and peered out but saw no one except the landscape guys.


          Did I just imagine that? Was it the liquor? Am I hallucinating?


          I bolted out the door and waved my hands at the landscaper on the riding mower until he saw me and stopped. I must have looked a little out of my mind. I didn't care.


          "Sorry to stop you. Did you see anybody out here near the window? A young guy with dark hair? Just a few minutes ago?"


          "Yeah, I did. I figured he was a friend of yours or someone doing an estimate for something. Why? You need help?"


          "No. You saw him. That's good. That's good," I said as I turned to walk back into the house.


          He saw him. I saw him.


          I ran around checking the locks on all the doors. Then I called Nessa and curled into a fetal position on the couch.


          But Jake is dead.


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):






What makes your featured book a must-read?


“Secrets in the Hollow,” my debut novel, explores guilt, redemption, and the power of confronting one’s past. The story's setting is Sleepy Hollow, NY, first made famous by the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The town is as much a character as the people in the story with its beautiful setting, haunted cemetery, and history dating back to the Dutch settlers. It has received two awards (NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite in Fiction and Firebird First Place in Mystery.) I think readers relate to it because we all make mistakes, we all have secrets, and we all have to live with the decisions we make.


Giveaway –


Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card:



Open Internationally.


Runs February 6 – February 12, 2024.


Winner will be drawn on February 13, 2024.


Author Biography:


Barbara Dullaghan grew up in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown and is enthralled with the magic and energy of the towns. She is published in gifted education with Kendall Hunt and Prufrock Press and her short stories and poetry can be found in three anthologies.  She and her husband, Jack, now live in coastal North Carolina and love spending time at the beach with their three children, spouses, and six energetic grandchildren. 


Social Media Links:


Facebook  barbaradullaghan

Instagram  barbdullaghan

Twitter @BarbDullaghan

Pinterest @bdulla


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Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your book in our Toasty Reads Bookish Event!

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