Brynn Bancroft’s enjoyment at running her former husband’s winery is overcast by a rash of troubling burglaries and her inability to reconnect with her ex. When she receives an urgent phone call from an old college friend requesting that she speak to an investor, she welcomes the interruption. Unfortunately, her friend’s business activities intrude on her routine. Then her ex-husband threatens her marriage hopes when he considers selling the winery. When the burglaries escalate, a sense of foreboding plagues her, hinting at trouble to come.
In Overcast Sunset, Joyce T. Strand invites us back into the lives of Brynn and her ex-husband Liam, who have become the guardians of Brynn's ex-boyfriend's son while he is incarcerated. The three of them make an eclectic but loving small family, until the past and secrets threaten to destroy the little world they've built.
There's not a lot I can go into without giving away spoilers, but new seedy characters have come to Somerset with hidden agenda's and Liam's got some personal agenda's that are threatening the winery and relationships as well.
Strand is awesome at developing female leads and pulling out surprising supporting characters with detail and depth that capture readers, pulling them into the story. It was great to see the teenage ward developing into a strong young adult character with future potential, and many of the wine valley characters coming alive with robust intriguing story lines. I definitely want to see many of these characters later - the detectives, some who have been in past Brynn Bancroft Mystery's and some newer (I don't want to give anything away, but one I was looking forward to seeing more of sort of disappears); and the daughter of the head wine maker - all great, well developed characters.
This novel has great mystery, intrigue, drama, and also character comfort. Characters you want to know and follow for a long time. There are times that I want to shake Brynn, and I especially wanted Liam to be more forthright with his own situation from the beginning, but overall - when you begin to want to give advice to characters - it's a good sign for the author!
This book stands alone, but I would also suggest reading the other Sunset novels - because they are great reads too!
About Brynn Bancroft
Unfortunately for Brynn, the CEO’s wife figured out that the two were involved and asked Brynn to leave the company, which she agreed to do.
In the meantime, her husband, Liam—not unfamiliar with extramarital affairs himself but also understanding that Brynn grew up in an abusive household- grew tired of waiting for Brynn to commit to their relationship and asked for a divorce. At the same time, he solicited her assistance in developing his new winery in Sonoma County, Calif.
As the protagonist in HILLTOP SUNSET, Brynn begins to shed her past and her behavior of protecting herself by blocking emotions. We watch her transition from a shallow uncaring person to someone who starts to understand the emotions of friendship and love.
At the same time, much like Jillian—who occasionally shows up in the Brynn Bancroft mysteries—Brynn, too, attracts mystery and murders as she grows to enjoy life at her ex-husband’s Hilltop Sunset Winery.
Hilltop Sunset: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery
A mystery set in wine country pitting financial exec Brynn Bancroft against a determined stalker, a troubled love interest, and career clashes.
Brynn Bancroft learns that a former employee who beat her nearly to death has returned to stalk her and her friend, Jillian Hillcrest, also a former victim.
Recently divorced, Brynn turns to a new love interest only to encounter additional unwelcome issues. Meanwhile, short-timer Brynn, who has resigned from her Silicon Valley company, becomes bored fulfilling her remaining responsibilities there. She begins to prefer supporting the launch of her ex-husband’s new hilltop winery while waiting to move to her next position. Between her stalker and her new love interest, Brynn faces a series of life-changing events.
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Landscape For Murder: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery
A friend’s murder. An unconnected cast of suspects, including the victim’s missing adult daughter. As if that wasn’t enough, Brynn Bancroft’s winery has been broken into. Can she deal with her co-owner ex and help the police find her friend’s murder so she can finally overcome her own troubled past and enjoy family life with her teenage ward?
Her most recent novels, Hilltop Sunset and Landscape for Murder, feature protagonist Brynn Bancroft, a financial guru in transition to winemaker from corporate executive. Brynn Bancroft is a minor character in Strand’s first three novels On Message, Open Meetings, and Fair Disclosure—three mysteries solved by Jillian Hillcrest, a publicist in Silicon Valley whose boss was Chief Financial Officer Brynn Bancroft.
Her first historical mystery, The Judge's Story, tells the story of a Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law who strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.
All of her novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.
Much like her protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing by-lined articles, press releases, white papers, and brochures to publicize her companies and their products.
She lives with her two cats and collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego.
She received her Ph.D. from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
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