By: Mary Ellen Taylor
Alexandria Series #2
Publication Date: 1/5/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
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The author of The Union Street Bakery and At the Corner of King Street returns to Alexandria, Virginia, with a heartfelt tale of reconnection.
Rae McDonald was fifteen when a car accident took her sister’s life and threw her own into reckless turmoil. When she got pregnant a year later, she found a loving couple to adopt the child. Since then, she’s buried her grief and guilt under a heart of stone.
Lisa Smyth survived the fateful crash, but never told the truth about what happened. And when a family obligation draws her back to Alexandria, the weight of Lisa’s guilt grows heavier by the day.
As both women confront a past refusing to be forgotten, long-buried artifacts are discovered by the Shire Architectural Salvage Company that point to a shared history between families. Now, Rae and Lisa must finally ask themselves if denying the past is worth sacrificing the future.
“Taylor’s complex tale spans three families over two centuries and includes a dose of ancient magic, but the story remains grounded in fascinating history and emotional turmoil that is intense yet subtle. An intelligent, heartwarming exploration of the powers of forgiveness, compassion, and new beginnings.”
“The second book in Taylor’s Alexandria series completes the story started in the first novel, and everything wraps up beautifully. Continuing characters from the Union Street Bakery series provides richer depth to the narrative. Themes of family, letting go of the past, and owning up to mistakes breathes life and emotion into the tale.”
—RT Book Reviews
A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Mary Ellen Taylor returns following At The Corner of King Street (Alexandria #1) with a complex multi-generational mystery of the past THE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET (Alexandria #2) rich in history and charm-- with three families crossing two centuries-- mystery, intrigue and some ancient magic to stir the pot.
As the locals read the weekly Lifestyle edition and the online version of the Old Town Alexandria paper, Dr. Rae McDonald is known to have a heart of stone, however, some think she is a matchmaker, trying to help her clients find happiness.
In fact, Rae knows sadness, all too well. It had nearly destroyed her at age sixteen when her old sister had died, and thereafter she had made reckless choices that resulted in a pregnancy. She gave the baby boy away to another mother for adoption. The pain and the loss were crushing. Since that day she knew her survival depended suppressing her feelings. Her detachment had served her well. She can remove herself from her client’s storms, problems, and her own emotions.
We meet up with the MaCrae’s we met in book one—Addie Morgan and Margaret McCrae, owners of Shire Architectural --the contractors who removed her stones six weeks ago. Addie is raising her niece, Carrie, eight weeks old. Addie was saving her family’s business for the brink of ruin. Margaret worked full time with the salvage company but still maintained close ties to the archeology center. She had a PhD in History and was a well- qualified expert in local history, especially Alexandria.
They had read about Rae, the trained clinical psychologist in the paper. They had found a bottle. A witch bottle. An incredible find. Protection spells. They were created hundreds of years ago by people who feared black magic. They were designed to ward off a witch’s spells and evil curses. Most were typically made of wine bottles filled with all kinds of sharp objects. (to cut or slice into the magic). Curses? A witch.
One of the bottles they found belonged to Addie’s family. Sarah Shire Goodwin buried that one. Patience McDonald buried the one they found on Rae’s property and Imogen Smyth made the one they found on the Prince Street Property. All three women lived in Alexandria around 1750.
As the book flashes back from the eighteenth century to the present we find the connections of three Alexandria families. At the beginning of the novel, it opens with a letter in 1751. A bind between these three families. A dangerous barter.
Rae's sister’s best friend Lisa Smyth survived the crash, but never told the truth about it. As long-buried artifacts that link their family histories are unearthed, both women are forced to confront the secrets of the past, before they can have a future.
Secrets. A Buried past. Choices.
As the book moves along, both Rae and Lisa are at a crossroads in their lives. The ties that bind. Face the past in order to have a future.
“Past, Present, and Future are links in a chain. For a chain to be strong you must have all the links. Not the ones you select. “A thought provoking question: Can you live in the now without acknowledging the problems of the past?
Ultimately, an emotional heartwarming novel of motherhood, forgiveness, letting go of the past, and second chances. As always you can count on Mary Ellen Taylor to deliver a bold life lesson, a strong takeaway message, and some savory recipes.
This time Rachel at The Union Street Bakery offers her Lemon Polenta Cookies and Never Too Much Chocolate Chip Cookies. An excellent choice for book clubs or further reading group discussions with questions included. If you have not read The Union Street Bakery series, highly recommend!
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About the Author
A southerner by birth, Mary Ellen Taylor’s love of her home state, Virginia, and its history is evident in the first of her contemporary novels, The Union Street Bakery. Its protagonists, the McCrae family, own the establishment, which has been in Alexandria’s Old Town for more than 150 years. They returned in Sweet Expectations. In both instances their stories intertwine with those of the city and the nation, presenting mysteries rooted in the past. While the McCraes are not the focus of Mary Ellen’s new novel, At the Corner of King Street, events of the past and their impact on the present remain a constant.
In addition to writing, cooking and baking are important creative outlets for Mary Ellen and she’s been known to name recipes in honor of her characters. She recently earned her Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate at the University of Richmond’s Culinary Arts Program.
Mary Ellen received her degree in English from Virginia’s Hollins University. After a decade of working in marketing and sales, she left to devote her time to writing. Today, in addition to her books as Mary Ellen Taylor, twenty-three of her romantic suspense novels and five novellas written as Mary Burton have been published and have earned spots on The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. The latest, Be Afraid, has just been published.
Mary Ellen and her husband spend time alternately enjoying and lamenting their newly empty nest and spoiling their miniature dachshunds, Buddy, Bella and Tiki. Website Twitter
At the Corner of King Street
Alexandria Series #1
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The author of The Union Street Bakery presents a new novel about a woman searching for a fresh start—while unable to forget the past…
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