The Secret of Hillcrest House by @RobertsoKing is a Trick or Treat Bonanza pick #romanticsuspense
Title: The Secret of Hillcrest House
Author: Melanie Robertson-King
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Mystery with heat
Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.
Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.
Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.
Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel The Secret of Hillcrest House?
Jessica leaned forward in the driver’s seat as she eased her Chevy Aveo around the corner on the crest of the hill. Not only was it a blind summit, but a blind summit on a curve. Once moving straight again, she glanced down to the passenger seat. The picture of the house – her house – she’d printed before leaving home lay there. A cursory glance at the GPS showed she was within a block of her new-to-her home.
Long before the mansion came on the market, every time Jessica had a pen or pencil in her hand, she sketched a house. From where had the idea for such a grand building originated? She had never seen a house similar to it before. It came straight from the pages of a fairy tale. Why did this place hold such fascination? There were no homes like it in Terra Cotta where she grew up. Even when she moved to Toronto to pursue her dream career as a graphic artist she’d not seen anything like it. Where was this magnificent structure?
From the time she first saw the real estate listing for Hillcrest House on the Internet, she knew she had to have it. Some inexplicable force within her compelled her to create images of it. Sight unseen, her sketches were identical to the mansion. She submitted an offer, never expecting them to accept it. When it was, an ecstatic Jessica began winding down her business in readiness for the move. The entire transaction took place online via websites, emails, scans and e-transfers.
She knew the house would be on her right so she slowed to a crawl and watched out the passenger window.
“You have reached your destination,” the female voice with a British accent said.
Engrossed in looking for her new home, the noise startled her causing her to jump.
When Jessica set up the GPS unit, she chose a woman’s voice over a man’s. She’d never taken orders from a man before and wasn’t about to start now. Besides, this voice was the least abrasive of the available selections.
Flipping on her right signal light, she pulled her car over to the curb and shut off the engine. Climbing out from behind the wheel, Jessica stretched. It had taken her about five hours to get here and her body knew it. She ran her fingers through her short, auburn hair then turned and leaned on folded arms on the roof of the car.
The granite, Victorian mansion stood to one side of the lot. A wrought iron fence surrounded the property. Patches of bare metal showed through the aqua green roof. Weathered plywood replaced glass in some of the upper windows. Others had gaping holes in the panes. Stained glass filled the round top upper frames. She hoped they were all intact. It would be next to impossible to replace them.
Paint peeled from the pillars and balusters of the sweeping verandah. Sections of the railing were missing. This once elegant home had fallen into a serious state of disrepair.
The blip of a siren startled her. She whipped around in time to see a police cruiser come to a stop behind her car. The officer emerged donning his Stetson as he approached. He was well over six feet tall and fit. Why did she have to notice his physique? She swore off men when her marriage fell apart. Now she was ogling a cop. She needed to get a grip.
“You can’t park here. Didn’t you see the no parking signs?” He pointed to one near her car.
“No. Sorry, I didn’t.”
“Pull around the corner and park on the far side of the street.”
Jessica climbed back into her little Chevy. She didn’t intend on taking orders from a man but this one wore a uniform and carried a gun. She drove around the corner and pulled into the driveway. A chain stretched between two stone pillars prevented her from going any further.
Parked on the property, there would be no reason for the cop to hang around. Still, when she exited her vehicle, the cruiser was across the foot of her entrance.
“What’s your interest in this place?” he asked, standing with his hands on his hips.
“I own it,” she announced with pride. If he was trying to intimidate her, it wouldn’t work. She’d been through far worse. This guy, arrogant as he was, didn’t frighten her at all.
“Got any proof?” He folded his muscular arms across his chest.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” she shot back and leaned in the window. Jessica grabbed the strap on her enormous, suede handbag and pulled it towards her and out the window. Placing it on the hood of her car, she rummaged through it until she found the envelope from the lawyer. “Here,” she bragged, thrusting the envelope in his face.
He removed the papers and looked at them. “Everything seems to be in order,” the officer said handing the documents back.
The wind picked up making it difficult for Jessica to return the contents to the pouch. As she turned to place them in her purse, a face and hands appeared in the window over the side porch. “There’s someone in there,” she gasped, pointing to the location.
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If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
It would be either a witch or a crow because they both wear black. I have a black wig, witch’s hat and a long black cape that I’ve worn on previous Halloweens when giving out candy to the little ones who come to my door.
I could make the same outfit work for a crow (sans hat) but I’d have to fashion a beak. I love crows. They are intelligent and entertaining to watch. We’ve had them come to our bird feeders in the winter. I’ve watched them open snails on a trip to Vancouver. They capture the snail fly about ten feet in the air and drop it. The shell cracks. And a crow features in The Secret of Hillcrest House.
Explain why your featured book is a treat to read:
If you like haunted houses, ghosts, and skeletons in the closet mixed with a bit of spicy romance, this is the book for you. And let’s not forget the insidious crow.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US or Canada) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have an active Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to be eligible.
Runs October 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on November 1.
Everything you wanted to know about Melanie but were afraid to ask…
A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.
Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then, one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.
Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country a further twelve times and is looking forward to trip number twelve. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.
Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.
Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. She published eight of her articles. One graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) as well as novel-length work.
To date, she has published ten novels and is currently working on her eleventh.
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