Juneby Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Published by Crown on May 31, 2016
Genres: Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Film, Friendship, Girls & Women, Historical, Historical Drama, Historical Romance, Mystery, New Experience, Romantic Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet comes a novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake made sixty years ago that threatens to change a modern family forever.
Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?
Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal.
As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.
Family secrets, great personal sacrifices, powerful friendships, dangerous enemies, and old world Hollywood encroaching on small town Ohio make up June, a novel told in dual timelines. Hopping back and forth between 2015 and 1955, June tells the story of Cassie Danvers as she mourns the loss of her very private grandmother–the only family that she had in the world since her mother and father were killed in a car accident that the three of them were in when Cassie was a young girl. Cassie miraculously survived and Grandma June gave up her life in St. Jude to live in a different town so Cassie’s life wouldn’t be upturned any more than it already was. Fast forward nearly twenty years, and Cassie’s grandmother has just passed away from cancer–an illness that she didn’t tell her granddaughter about until it was nearly too late–and Cassie has inherited a crumbling mansion in small town St. Jude that has been in their family since it was built in the late 1800s, along with about $14,000. But what follows while Cassie shuts herself away from the world, as she ignores the mail piling up and the upkeep that the mansion so desperately needs–like a hole in the roof, a long overgrown garden, and a heating system that doesn’t work–is a firestorm of unwanted visitors that make her question all she knew about her grandmother and her father’s lineage.
A Mourning Granddaughter Digs into Her Grandmother’s Past…
Cassie becomes curious about her grandmother June’s life when someone claiming to be movie star Jack Montgomery’s daughter’s assistant shows up on the doorstep of the mansion, claiming that Cassie has been named the sole heir of Jack’s fortune. Why would a movie star famous when her grandmother was young leave Cassie all of his money, 37 million dollars to be exact. Before she knows it, Tate Montgomery, with two assistants in tow, has practically moved in to the dilapidated mansion–to hide out from her troubled life in the spotlight while Cassie decides whether or not to take a DNA test proving that her father was Jack’s son. After all, would June want her private life splattered all over the tabloids and town? Cassie’s desire to take photographs and document life had dissipated in the months since she left New York City and taken up residence in small town St. Jude, but this bout of depression and listlessness can only be helped when she has a goal to work toward. Reconnecting with her family’s past and maybe finding new family just might be her cure.
A Simple Time Wasn’t So Sweet and Simple For Everyone…
The mansion has other ideas about the past coming to light, and Cassie starts having vivid dreams of two girls in the past: June and her best friend Lindie. June isn’t exactly happy that she’s about to marry an older man as arranged by her mother and a successful family friend to restore her family’s lost fortune, but she knows that he’s a sweet, honorable man, so the marriage will be a good thing. But she’s young and idealistic, and she wants to truly be in love. Lindie’s nearly four years younger at fourteen, and she’ll barely admit to herself that she’s in love with June. But she knows that June doesn’t like her like that, so Lindie’s content protecting June and being her best friend, and especially looking out for June’s best interests. And when a Hollywood movie comes to town and the male lead sets his sights on winning June over, Lindie’s up for helping the love story between Jack and June begin.
Twin Oaks Is A Character All Unto Itself…
The crumbling mansion of 2015 was once a vibrant home in 1955, housing June and her mother, along with their uncle Lemon Green Neely, the builder of the home, and the African American housekeeper Apatha. The house is talked about as if it is a living, breathing entity, and everyone who has ever been there can show up in Cassie’s dreams–even during the day she can feel them if the house chooses to do so. The supernatural element of the house sending Cassie the dreams of her Grandmother June and her best friend Lindie from when they were young was something that I felt could have been explored a bit more, especially since it was more like the reader gets the entire story while Cassie didn’t remember anything when she woke up. Miranda Beverly-Whittemore really did her research on what a house from this era would look like, down to the furniture inside. The author has a fantastic Pinterest board for this novel, and I definitely recommend that you check it out if you’re into that kind of thing.
I give June a four out of five. The dual timelines worked for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the small town feel of St. Jude in both 1955 and 2015. Having grown up in a town of 2500 residents myself, I know the claustrophobia of small town life very well, and the author captured it well. The characters are all well-drawn and realistic, even if some of them were stubborn and pigheaded until the end. The ending seemed a bit rushed, and it left me wanting to know more about June and Jack’s relationship –especially since everything was kept so hidden from both of their families over the years. I would also love to know more about Cassie and her new relationships, especially how the house is coming along. June is essentially a story about love, loss, and second chances–no matter how long they take to get them.
About Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
MIRANDA BEVERLY-WHITTEMORE is the author of four novels: June, New York Times bestseller Bittersweet; Set Me Free, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, given annually for the best book of fiction by an American woman; and The Effects of Light. A recipient of the Crazyhorse Prize in Fiction, she lives and writes in Brooklyn.
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