Date published: August 20th, 2013
Publisher: Elizabeth Marx Books
Synopsis: What happens when your darkest truth is revealed to the world?
Scarlett Marbry was just sixteen when her mother, an acclaimed Sacred Harp singer, committed suicide in front of her, sending her running from rural Alabama and the darkness that pushed her mother over the edge. Now, after five years of building a fragile cage around her heart to protect herself, she must return to Crossroads for her grandparents’ funeral. There, she’ll not only be forced to deal with the reality of her deep Southern roots, but she’ll have to face the one she left behind.
Revell Marshall is used to working with fragile objects. He’s built a life and career around reassembling the delicate stained glass windows that have put Crossroads back on the map. He’s also been pining for Scarlett all these years . . . Determined to win her heart, he helps her piece together the facts of her mother’s past. Except these revelations, once exposed, could set Scarlett on the downward spiral she barely escaped the last time. Especially when the truth that stained the past may be the same one that shatters her faith in the one person she thought she could trust . . .
What I Thought:
Elizabeth Marx knows how to write a great story. I've read two other books by her and they've both been phenomenal. Initially I wanted to start off by sharing what my thoughts were when I finished reading the book, but there's a lot of "Oh my Gods" and other irreverent mutterings which are probably best left not shared. I sincerely doubt my words are going to be able to do this book justice. As it is I've only barely been able to refrain myself from stalking the author online and asking when the next book in this series will be out. For everyone who fears the cliffhanger, you're safe, there isn't one, but there are so many stories from Crossroads, Alabama that need to be told.
Elizabeth Marx says she's not a Southerner and hailing from Chicago, I think she did an unbelievably great job at nailing the attitudes and saying used in this book. As a life long Southerner, I've heard many of these sayings before and although they aren't used as often any more, it felt like a little slice of home seeing them in print. Others whose families are native Southerners for generations will further attest to the authenticity of the book, but this book truly had the Southern flavor that's lacking from books these days.
Coming back to the story, I don't even know where to start or what to say. It's just that I found myself putting aside everything else to read one more page, one more chapter. I didn't complain once about being tired the next day and the loss of sleep and functioning brain power was totally worth it. I felt this book in my soul. I loved being in Scarlett's head and in Revell's too. It's fitting this book was a dual point of view because these two were truly the other halves of each other. Reading about their fears and why they were separated for years from one another was painful. Scarlett was determined not to stay there in the town she hated and where she was hated too, even if it meant answers she'd been waiting her whole life for. Revell was as determined to keep her there, even though he knew the secrets revealed would be painful for everyone to hear.
While this story focuses mainly on Revell and Scarlett, the town of Crossroads, Alabama and it's citizens played an integral part in the story. Polly, Scarlett's friend and Alex the "Yankee Carpetbagger" had an amazing story arc. I can't wait to read more about them. Also since over half the town was related to Scarlett one way or another, it was interesting to see their interactions with her, especially since they wanted to get their piece of the inheritance promised if Scarlett left town before the time allotted in her grandfather's will. I wanted her to stay and get the answers she wanted, but the build up to the truth seemed like it would be devastating.
I must say some of the situations that happened in this book greatly shook me to the core. I railed and cursed and cried, but it was all part of the story and Revell and Scarlett's journey to the truth. People who have triggers shouldn't go into this book blind, but it's the twists this book takes that make it so amazing. Just thinking about it now makes my chest tighten all over again. This book has it all, great romance, great storytelling, pain, fear, and realization. It deals with so many tough issues and it's impossible not to be affected by the book. I couldn't get enough of it. Stained is the perfect title for this story of loss, love, roots, and redemption.
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