- N. N. Light
The Man in Cabin Number Five by @chrysteen_braun is a New Year New Books Fete pick #womensfiction
Title: The Man in Cabin Number Five, Guest Book Trilogy Book One
Author: Chrysteen Braun
Genre: Women’s Fiction
When Annie Parker discovers her husband’s infidelity, she doesn’t let it destroy her. She packs her bags and heads to Lake Arrowhead, Ca, the mountainside town where her family used to summer. Immersing herself in the restoration of seven 1920s era cabins, Annie begins to put the pieces of her life back together. But starting over is never easy.
Alyce Murphy needs closure. When she discovers her father did not die from a heart attack, as she’s been led to believe for the last 30 years, but in a murder/suicide, she is determined to uncover the truth of his death. But when she visits the cabin where her father ended his life, Alyce has to accept she may never know the true story.
Annie is looking towards her future while Alyce needs to put the past to rest. In parallel stories, both women are drawn to the rustic mountainside cabins as they search for the missing pieces---but they soon discover that the cabins have their own stores to tell.
I remember a lot of things about the lake house and our first summer there.
“Let me know if you’re going to toss your cookies,” my sister Loni said.
I’d never had a history of having a sensitive stomach, but when she said that, I had terrible visions of getting car sick from all the turns the first time we drove up the winding road to the mountains.
“Thanks for that,” I said.
It was also the first time my father had driven such a road, and my mother warned us to be quiet as he took the curves with a firm grip on the steering wheel. There were no seat belts then, and when he cut a turn too tightly, Loni and I slid from one side of the back seat to the other. The more Loni and I tried not to laugh, the more we did.
“Stop!” my mother scolded, turning to look at the two of us. All that did was make us laugh all over again.
It turned out I loved the drive up and down the mountain. On a clear day, you could pick out a small lake to the southeast, and the city below seemed to continue forever to the west. Sometimes the clouds would back up to the rim of the mountain, and they would be so thick, you couldn’t see anything below. They looked like balls of cotton you could just step out on. We later learned that when moisture pushed the clouds higher against the mountain, a dense fog would cover the roads and it would often be impossible to see the road ahead.
My mother worked in the lunch program at the elementary school, so she was usually off during the summer. My father was a chemical engineer, and had taken some vacation time so we could spend a week with us.
“You two should have lots of fun up here,” she said.
Loni’s head was resting on the back window, but I could still see her roll her eyes. The times when Loni and I still had fun together were getting fewer; she was just enough older than me that we were in two separate worlds. I was ten and Loni had just turned thirteen. I wasn’t included when she wanted to go places with her friends, and although she wasn’t allowed to, I knew she wore make-up when she left the house.
“We’re here,” my mother finally said as we pulled into a circular driveway.
My father slowly stretched as he stood. He unclenched his hands and shook them, willing the circulation and color to return to them. He sighed.
“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” she said, patting him on the shoulder. “Grab something,” she called as Loni and I scrambled out of our station wagon. “Open the back.”
I paused long enough to realize how quiet it was here. It was a warm day, and the wind whistled through the trees that circled our house, providing us with a cool breeze. And then I turned and saw it.
“I see the lake!” I shouted, pointing to the deep blue water. It was smooth as glass until a gust of wind ruffled its surface. I dropped whatever it was I’d carried, but my father gently turned me around and pointed me back in the right direction before I could run to see it...
“Not until we’re unpacked,” he said, grabbing some boxes. “Then we’ll all go down together.”
The Pinecone Lake House, as we called it, was large enough for at least two families to stay comfortably. There were fifteen rooms and twenty-nine doors and windows. Unlike most homes, lake houses had two fronts; one that you saw when you drove up to it, and the real front, the more architecturally interesting one, which you could only see if you were on the lake itself. There was a small grassy area on the lakeside which ended down at our dock and into the water.
We nicknamed our room the ‘Bunkhouse’ for it had two sets of built-in bunk beds and it was perfect for sleepovers; however, the term sleepover was inaccurate, for we never got much sleep when we were there with our friends.
There were three other bedrooms plus my parent’s room, a gigantic living room, dining room and a large kitchen where at least three people could work at the same time. The walls were pine, even in the kitchen, and floors were covered in western style area rugs. The previous owner left their artwork and a deer’s head, which hung over the fireplace mantel.
After our family tour of the front and the lake, I could hardly wait to roam the land around the house. Even though it was summer, mud and leaves clung to my shoes as I made my way further to the back of our property. Wooden planks ran along the ground, toward the weathered and splintered garden shed, which even then looked like it would fall down in a strong wind. While chipped and peeling, it was painted the same colors as the house. Thick brush kept me from going any further, which was disappointing, so I turned to make my way back to the house. One of the low-lying branches that covered part of the view of the lake clipped me on the forehead as I ran under it, and I immediately felt blood trickle down my face. Not to be outdone by a tree, I wiped my face with the back of my hand, and then wiped my hand on my pants. I’d be in trouble for doing that when I returned, but I continued on. The glimmer of the water in the sunlight called to me.
That was the year we bought our boat. Lake Arrowhead is a private lake, and in order to keep the water free from mussels, all boats had to be inspected and licensed before they could be put in the water.
At first, my mother wasn’t interested in learning how to operate a boat, but at our insistence, she relented and got herself a permit too. Although it was superstitious to change the name of a boat, ours was named “Rum Runner” and my father wanted to name it “Destiny” after what he thought coming to America and marrying my mother meant for him.
I remember the first time we all went out in it, and when my mother took the wheel, she was timid and nervous. By the second time around the lake, she’d worked up the nerve to increase the speed enough, so that water sprayed on our faces. My father, who was the more conservative of the two, had to tell her to slow down, or we’d all get into trouble.
“Well, that was fun,” she said breathlessly.
That was the summer Loni started her period and my mother learned how to start the fire in the pit so we could roast marshmallows; and, more importantly, how to put the fire out properly. It was the summer I twisted my ankle when I tripped on a tree branch as I ran back to our house for lunch, and it was the first time we saw wild animals. Deer leisurely searched our property, looking for something to eat, and a bobcat graced us with his presence. We were as quiet as we could be as it walked through the trees, getting closer to the house. When Loni went inside to grab our camera, he casually turned to see who we were before heading off back into the forest before she could get back. It turned out there was a postcard from the previous owner still stuck on the refrigerator with a postcard of a bobcat, so he’d most likely visited them too. We nicknamed him “Bob.”
It was the first time we learned you couldn’t leave your trash cans outside the night before the trash truck came the next day, for hungry bears and other wild animals would come out during the night searching for something to eat. They’d not only damage your trash barrel, but remnants of whatever was not edible would end up scattered all over the ground.
It was the first time of many that I collected pinecones and greenery to put in a bowl that sat on the entry table, hoping to bring to the indoors the fragrances of being outdoors. And when we went into town, I bought a guest book with my own money so we could have everyone who stayed with us sign their names. Of course, I signed my name first.
It was also the first time I fell in love.
Amazon ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Y9KGZ3R
Amazon paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1647044626
Amazon hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1647044642
B&N paperback: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-man-in-cabin-number-five-chrysteen-braun/1141373079?ean=9781647044626
B&N hardcover: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-man-in-cabin-number-five-chrysteen-braun/1141373079?ean=9781647044640
It’s a brand-new year, full of possibilities. Did you make any resolutions/goals for
2023? If so, please share one.
I quit making absolutely, positively, drop dead goals that had to start New Year’s day, and now I try to start around December 20th working on an achievable goal; my primary one this year is to continue thinking about what I’m eating, and when I make a bad choice, don’t give up, but instead, learn to eat differently the next meal.
Why is your featured book a must-read in 2023?
The Man in Cabin Number Five has everything a reader would love; hope, love, forgiveness and a bit of mystery and intrigue.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs January 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on February 1, 2023.
Chrysteen Braun is a California native, born and raised in Long Beach.
The mountains, where she and her husband had a second home, were the inspiration for her first three books, The Guest House Trilogy. These fictional restored cabins from the late 1920s all had their own stories to tell.
Her writing crosses genres of Women’s Fiction with relationships, and a little mystery and intrigue. She’s published articles about her field of interior design and remodeling, both for trade publications and her local newspaper.
She lives in Coto de Caza, with her husband Larry and two Siamese cats.
Contact her at email@example.com, or www.chrysteenbraun.com
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