Author: Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing #1
Release Date: March 21, 2023
A brighter future awaits--if she can escape the shadows of the past
Emily Leland sheds no tears when her abusive husband is killed in a bar fight, but what awaits her back home in Sweetwater Crossing is far from the welcome and comfort she expected. First she discovers her father has died under mysterious circumstances. Then the house where the handsome new schoolteacher, Craig Ferguson, and his son are supposed to board burns, leaving them homeless. When Emily proposes turning the family home into a boardinghouse, her sister is so incensed that she leaves town.
Alone and broke, her family name sullied by controversy, Emily is determined to solve the mystery of her father's death--and to aid Craig, despite her fears of men. The widowed schoolmaster proves to be a devoted father, an innovative teacher, and an unexpected ally. As they work to uncover the truth, they just may find the key to unlock a future neither could have imagined.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
" . . . nothing appeared to have changed, but Emily Leland knew otherwise. Everything had changed. Or perhaps only she had changed."
Young, widowed, with a painful past and an uncertain future, Emily Leland returns to her childhood home in Sweet Crossings, Texas. Her marriage had been short and (unknown to her family) terribly unhappy, but nothing could have prepared Emily for the additional heartache that was going to cross her path on her very first evening home.
When newly hired schoolteacher Craig Ferguson and his young son Noah arrive in Sweet Crossings, the town is in crisis. A fire consumes the very building, which was to have been Craig's new residence, leaving him few options. What he didn't expect was an invitation to stay in the home of a young woman who had just lost her father on that very day. Was his new start doomed to end before it even began?
"Maybe this is the time for trust."
Forced to open up the family's lovely home as a boardinghouse, Emily continues to look for clues into her father's untimely death. Finding an ally in Craig, the two work towards a common goal, the truth. Despite Emily's reservations about forming any kind of bond with another man, "love comes softly" into the lives of these two sorrowed souls "after the shadows."
A tenderly told historical romance with rich spiritual depth and encouragement.
I received a copy of this book from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I also purchased a copy. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Karen Baney
Amanda Cabot delivered a suspenseful mystery that kept me guessing longer than most. Early in the novel, she sets the stage for a perplexing number of unusual deaths in the small town of Sweetwater Crossing. The most devastating was Emily’s father. As Emily struggles to recover from grief, she is convinced that her father’s death was not all it appeared to be, yet no one believes her.
As Craig and his young son start over in a new town, they end up living in Emily’s boardinghouse. While he and Emily start a friendship quickly, the romance plays out much slower. The way the author handled the romance felt very true to the characters and their heartbreaking pasts.
The suspenseful mystery part of the story kept me hooked, eagerly trying to solve it along with the characters. There were a few chapters about a third of the way through the book that seemed to meander, but then the story picked up the pace again.
I liked how Cabot wove real-life questions about faith and how to process a loved one’s suicide. It’s a difficult topic that Cabot handled delicately and lovingly from a Biblical perspective. While some readers may have a different view of suicide, I don’t think you will find Cabot’s approach offensive.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this first book in the Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing and look forward to more works by this author. I strongly recommend it for fans of murder mystery with a touch of romance in a historical setting.
Disclaimer: I requested and received an advanced copy of this book courtesy of Revell through NetGalley. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Billi Varela
I enjoyed Amanda Cabot’s style of writing. It was intriguing. I also love the history part of the story. It was really well done. I would forget that I was reading at times—such an amazing book.
I liked the mystery in this book. It was very interesting up until the very end. I liked that Craig and Emily worked together to solve it. I also liked that Craig did not make her feel less than others or belittle her. But instead helped her solve the mystery.
This is a Christian book. However, it is done nicely. It doesn’t sound or feel preachy.
I enjoyed Emily and Craig’s relationship. He was honestly so sweet and understanding. Always showing love and support toward her. I liked his kind heart. I also liked that he worked little by little to gain her trust. And I also liked that she was open-minded about him, given what she went through.
This is a clean novel free from sex and foul language.
I received a review copy courtesy of Revell through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Carolyn Bryant
After the Shadows is a beautiful beginning to the Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing trilogy.
This series centers around the lives and loves of the Vaughn sisters—Emily, Louisa, and Joanna. This is Emily’s touching story set in 1882 in Sweetwater Crossing, a small Texas town. The intriguing plot, constructed with perfectly placed twists and a slowly unraveling mystery, kept me totally engaged from beginning to end.
The richly drawn, compelling characters bring the story to life. I love the strong yet vulnerable heroine Emily and the wonderfully honorable hero Craig and how their sweet romantic relationship develops.
I appreciate the faith lessons on trusting God and accepting His plan. I totally enjoyed this heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking story and highly recommend it. I loved the sneak peek at the next book in the trilogy and look forward to continuing this family saga.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Conny Withay
“Craig was a good man, kind but firm. She had no reason to fear him, for he was nothing like George,” Emily convinces herself in Amanda Cabot’s novel, After the Shadows.
The first book in the Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing series, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in a historical romance involving family relationships in the Texas Hill Country.
With no profanity, topics of alcohol use, illness, physical abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an author’s letter, a teaser for the next book in the series, acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.
In this story set in 1882 in a small Texan town, Emily Leland returns to her home defeated, depressed, and lonely. Keeping secrets about her deceased husband’s abusiveness, she tries to put her past behind her. Turning her family home into a boarding house occupies her time, especially when the new schoolmaster comes to her unexpected aid as she searches for the truth about her father’s recent death.
I appreciate stories about working through family relationships. This one focuses on the oldest of three daughters, who feels inadequate compared to her siblings. I like how Emily’s friendship developed with Craig and how she slowly lets her walls of hurt and pain fall down.
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like this story, but it is not preachy or overbearing. Some may not like that it is the first of the series, so all the characters are not fully developed yet.
Since it is based on a minister’s family, I would have expected more spiritual undertones. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.
If you like sweet romances where a tight-knit community helps each other overcome the loss of their loved ones, this is a tender start to a lovely, heartfelt series that includes mystery.
Thanks to Revell and Interviews & Reviews for this complimentary book. I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Amanda Cabot is off to an excellent start with After the Shadows, the first book in her new Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing series.
Emily Leland finally escapes her abusive husband when he dies in a bar fight. She returns home to Sweetwater Crossing after discovering her mother died. Upon arriving, she encounters an angry sister who questions why Emily was not there for their mother. Shortly after their confrontation, a fire breaks out in the house where the new school teacher is to reside. Everything seems to happen at once after that. When Emily and her sister return from the fire, they discover their father has died. And the circumstances around his death are hard for Emily to accept. So she continues (much to her sister's anger) to pursue how he really died.
Meanwhile, the new school teacher needs a place to stay since the house where he would have stayed burned down. Knowing they will now require an income, Emily (without consulting her sister Louisa) turns their home into a boarding house.
A lot is coming at you in the first few pages, making this book hard to put down. Louisa's anger with her sister is never resolved because Emily never tells her the truth about her husband and Louisa leaves in a fit of anger. Hopefully this is resolved in book two.
The growing romance between Craig and Emily is sweet, and I loved how Craig was so sensitive to her once he learned about her abusive husband. Craig also didn't ridicule Emily when she wanted to discover how her father died. The supporting characters were also endearing and played a huge part in Craig and Emily's relationship.
This great historical romance with a mystery turns into so much more! Amanda Cabot never disappoints. I highly recommend this book.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through NetGalley for my honest review.
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