Oscar-nominated actress Meg Tilly strikes again with the third gripping contemporary romantic suspense novel set on the idyllic Solace Island in the Pacific Northwest.
When Solace Island gallery owner Zelia Thompson's close friend Alexus Feinstein of the prestigious art gallery Feinstein & Co. dies of a "drug overdose," Zelia's intuition sounds an alarm. The Alexus she knew didn't do drugs and had everything to live for.
As Zelia begins looking into the circumstances of her friend's death, what she uncovers will put her life in imminent danger. Will Zeliawith the help of the reclusive crime fiction novelist Gabe Conaghanbe able to unravel the mysterious happenings surrounding Alexus's untimely death? Or will she become the bloodthirsty artist's next victim?
About the Author
Meg Tilly may be best known for her acclaimed Golden Globe-winning performance in the movie Agnes of God. After publishing six standout young adult and literary women's fiction novels, the award-winning author/actress decided to write the kind of books she loves to read: romance novels. Tilly has three grown children and resides with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.
Read an Excerpt
Gabriel Conaghan skimmed over the day's work and then heaved a sigh of relief. Some days the writing went fast and the words flowed. This had not been one of those days. He had been unable to settle into the world of his novel. His protagonist had felt flat and one-dimensional. He'd gone online to do research only to look up an hour and a half later with the realization that he'd fallen down a rabbit hole and was reading stuff that had nothing to do with what he had initially looked up. It wasn't until he'd disconnected the Internet and turned his cell phone to do not disturb that he was able to dive fully into Troy Master's world.
As Gabe saved his work in his documents folder on his desktop, in the cloud, and on a flash drive, he became aware of the stiffness in his shoulders, neck, and lower back. Once again he'd sat at his computer for far too long. Night had fallen, and what did he have to show for it? A few more pages added to his latest manuscript.
He pushed back from his desk and stared out his study window. Not much to see, just the brick wall of the neighboring building. He leaned his face against the smooth surface of the cool windowpane and tilted his head back, as this enabled him to see the smallest scrap of night sky. Suddenly he longed for more. What was "more"? He had no idea, but lately he had noticed a pervasive feeling of emptiness niggling at him, as if something intangible was missing. The air in his sleek loft apartment seemed stale, as if the oxygen had been depleted. He'd been holed up in there for a couple of days, writing, eating, sleeping, and then writing some more.
He grabbed his cell phone off the desk, got a coat from the hall closet, and slipped it on. On his way through the kitchen he poured himself two fingers of whiskey and then climbed the circular stairs that led to his rooftop terrace.
The slap of frigid air had him turning up the collar of his overcoat; however, he enjoyed the sharp bite of it. Found it invigorating after being glued to his keyboard all day.
What time is it? he wondered. He huffed out a laugh. Forget what time . . . what day is it? That was the disadvantage to being self-employed. One day blurred into the next. He pulled out his cell phone and clicked the home button. It's 9:38 p.m.? Wow. Who knew it had gotten that late. He swiped up on the screen and turned off the do not disturb. Instantaneously his phone started to buzz with incoming messages and e-mails.
He took a slug of his whiskey and savored the heat as it traveled down his throat, then glanced down at the phone. What he saw had his heart thumping hard in his chest with worry.
There was a profusion of missed phone calls from his mom. Something must be terribly wrong.
Fergus Conaghan looked with satisfaction in the mirror that his wife, Alma, held before him. "Looks good," he said. "Perhaps a dab more shadow under the eyes."
"I will not, Fergus," she replied with a touch of tart lemon to her voice. "You already look like death warmed over. If I add any more, the poor boy will think you're on your deathbed."
"Good!" Fergus roared. "I want to scare the crap outta him. I'm sixty-five years old. You turned sixty-one last week. Why isn't he married? Where are our grandchildren? We should have been gifted with half a dozen by now. But has he done his duty? No! None of the children have."
"Give him time. He's only thirty-six."
"When I was his age, our fourth child was in your belly."
"It was a different era, Fergus."
"He's wasting his life, hunched over that keyboard of his. How many blasted murder mysteries must that boy write?"
"He writes crime fiction, honey."
"How's he ever supposed to meet anyone when he never goes out? Refuses to socialize. Has his nose to that computer all damned day. The boy needs a good boot in the rear end, and I'm just the man to give it to him. We're going to send him to Solace Island. No one on God's green earth could resist the siren's lure of that gorgeous landscape." Fergus rubbed his hands together gleefully. "It will lull him away from his keyboard and out into the world."
"And what if it doesn't? Fergus, this is a crazy scheme . . ."
"Never you mind." He waved away her objections. "You didn't marry this wily guy for nothing. This head here?" He rapped his gnarled fist on his temple. "It's stuffed with high-quality brains. You'll see, my dear. I've also devised a devilishly clever backup plan." He grinned triumphantly. "What the landscape doesn't accomplish, the task I give him will. He'll be forced to talk and interact with people. Real people. Not the make-believe ones that populate those darn books of his."
The bedside phone rang. Fergus grabbed it. "Yup?"
"Mr. Conaghan," the doorman said. "Your son is on his way up."
Fergus hung up the phone and leapt into action. "Draw the curtains!" he yelled. "Turn off the TV. We gotta set the stage!" While she closed the curtains, he dimmed the lights. Oh sweet Jesus! Her makeup was lying on the bed. He snatched it, ran into the master bathroom, and shoved the makeup in a drawer. While he was there, inspiration struck. He quickly stuck a washcloth under the tap, wrung out the excess water, and then rubbed the wet washcloth in his hair. The moisture was a good touch. Made him look like he was feverish and sweating. He scrubbed his fists against his eyes to make them bloodshot and slightly swollen. Dabbled a little water on his brow and on his upper lip. Should have been a damned actor. He chortled to himself. I belong on the stage!
The elevator chimed, marking his son's arrival to their Park Avenue penthouse.
Fergus sprinted back into the bedroom, his hip giving him only minor trouble, dove into bed, and yanked the covers over his shoulders. He could hear Alma greeting their son at the door as Fergus sank his body deep into the bed and rattled out a feeble cough.
Let the games begin!
"Not to worry, Dad," Gabe reassured his father. "I'll take care of it."
"I . . ." His father dissolved into a racking coughing fit. "Water . . . water . . ."
Gabe grabbed the glass of water off the bedside table and placed it in his dad's shaking hand. "Here you are."
His dad took a tiny sip. "Thanks, son." Fergus's eyes drifted shut as if wearied by the bout of coughing, the glass resting on his chest. "I feel bad . . . laying this burden on you," his father croaked feebly.
"It's not a burden," Gabe lied. "I was just thinking I wanted to get out of New York for a while. You're doing me a favor. I'll be your eyes and your ears. I will check the place out and send you a report." Gabriel removed the glass of water from his father's limp grip and set it back on the bedside table. "And I want you to focus on resting up, regaining your health. Before you know it, you'll be back on your feet, irritating the hell out of all of your loved ones." Gabe's voice was a whisper now, a peaceful lullaby that had lulled his father to sleep. A soft snore was rumbling forth. He was having good dreams apparently, because there was a hint of a smile gracing his father's lips.
Gabe crossed the room on quiet feet and exited, gently closing the heavy oak door of the master bedroom behind him. He felt as if he'd been run over by a Mack truck.
His mother's hand alighted on his forearm. "Are you all right, son?" she asked in her soft, lilting voice. Her family had immigrated to New York when she was six years old, but traces of the old County Cork accent still lingered in times of stress.
"He looks terrible," Gabriel said. It was an effort to keep his voice from cracking. "I knew he was fighting a cold last week." He shook his head. "How could he have deteriorated so quickly? Dad mentioned the doctor ordered a chest X-ray?" His mother was wringing her hands, which was never a good sign. "That Dad might have pneumonia or possibly something worse?"
"I said walking pneumonia," his father bellowed from behind the closed door. He must have woken up. The man had the ears of an elephant.
His mother bit her lip, her face flushed with emotion. "Don't you concern yourself too much, Gabe. He's a hardy old fart." Her voice was a little sharp. The stress and worry must be getting to her.
He patted her hand. "Don't worry, Mom. It's no problem. I'll throw a few things in my suitcase and catch a flight out."
"But your manuscript. I know you have a deadline coming . . ."
"It's not a problem," he said, pulling her in for a hug and dropping a gentle kiss on the top of her graying hair. She felt slighter than before, more fragile. His parents had gotten old while he wasn't looking. "I can write anywhere. It will be nice to get away from New York for a while. I was supposed to take Nora to lunch tomorrow-"
"Not to worry. I'll let your godmother know it will be lunch with me instead."
"Thanks," he said. "Give her my love."
He kept the reassuring smile firmly on his face until the elevator doors closed behind him. Shit. He rolled his shoulders, trying to dispel the tension that had settled there. His father's request was a massive inconvenience. It would disrupt the flow of his writing to hop on a plane and fly to the Pacific Northwest.
Never mind. Family first, he told himself. You'll go to this Solace Island. Check out the Mansfield Manor for Dad, then return, back home in four or five days, maybe less.
Gabe missed the last ferry to Solace Island by six minutes. He arrived at the terminal in time to see the ferry pulling away from the dock carrying only a handful of trucks and cars. Light was spilling out of the boat's windows, leaving shimmering reflections trailing on the ocean's dark, inky surface.
"Guess I won't be arriving tonight," he said as he watched the ferry recede in the distance. He swung the SUV he had rented at the airport in a tight U-turn and headed up the road toward the motel on the outskirts of the small town he'd passed through moments earlier.
After an unsatisfactory fast-food dinner of dried-out, greasy fried chicken and a biscuit that could have been put to good use as a hockey puck, he set his laptop on the spindly desk and tried to write. He'd managed to get a couple of pages in on the plane, but as he read them over, he realized they were shit. He deleted the day's work and took a slug of soda that had been part of his meal package, grimacing. The soda had no fizz-just like his writing.
He woke early, his phone vibrating on the nightstand. He picked it up, glanced at the screen. It was his dad.
Normally, when his dad phoned him at the crack of dawn he'd let the call go to voice mail, but yesterday had shaken him.
He swiped the screen. "Yup?"
"What do you think of the place, boyo?" His father sounded much better than he had yesterday, full of vigor.
"Not there yet. Luggage took a while. Missed the last ferry."
"Well, you're in for a treat. Can't believe I managed to snag the property." His dad chortled gleefully. "Of course, McCall had to croak first. Bought it from his widow for a song."
"Good going, Dad," Gabe said, knowing full well that his dad had probably overpaid. McCall had been one of his best friends, and he would have used the excuse of the purchase to make sure his widow was well taken care of.
"Call me when you've had a chance to walk through the place."
"Will do. You're sounding good. The antibiotics must be kicking in."
"Yes. Well-" His father's words were cut short by an extended coughing fit. His dad made a valiant effort to continue the conversation, but finally Gabe convinced his father it was best he not overexert himself. "Right-" Cough . . . cough . . . "I'll hang up then-" His dad blew his nose long and loud. Gabe pulled the phone away from his ear, but not fast enough. He could have lived quite happily without hearing all that moisture trumpeting through his dad's nose at such close range. "I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the place, Gabe. A piece of heaven, Solace Island is. A little piece of heaven."
Gabe hung up, catching sight of the digital clock on the bedside table. It was 5:26 a.m. His dad must have forgotten to factor in the time difference. He considered trying to grab a couple more hours of sleep. After fifteen minutes of staring at the dark ceiling, he got up.
The motel room was damp and smelled of mildew, the beaten-up linoleum floor cold under his feet. He didn't need to open the curtains to know that it was still dark outside. He gathered up his belongings and checked out.
The early-morning ferry to Solace Island was surprisingly full. A lot of large trucks, some long haul, some short distance. Gabe got out of his vehicle and stretched in the brisk air. The edges of the night sky were starting to soften as he weaved his way between a commercial dairy truck and a beat-up vehicle that-from the smell emanating out of the back-was used for hauling either garbage or manure.
He entered the small ferry lounge. With the exception of two straggly haired backpackers leaning against each other and catching a few more moments of sleep, the place was empty. There was a coffee/espresso/hot chocolate/tea vending machine. How bad could the coffee be? Gabe thought, rummaging in his pocket. He pulled out a handful of change and fed it to the machine. He made his selection and watched as a paper cup dropped down and a thin stream of watery brownish-gray liquid began to dribble into his cup. It did not look promising.
He took a sip anyway.
One was enough.
He tossed the coffee into the gray garbage bin and went back out to his vehicle, reclined his seat all the way back, and shut his eyes.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the third book of the Solace Island series. Each book in this series just gets better. Meg Tilly deftly writes a contemporary romance novel with mystery woven through it. She does such a great job that I didn’t figure out who the villain was until the end. Never saw it coming. I enjoyed the humor, romance and the suspense. Art gallery owner Zelia and novelist Gabe worked together to prove her good friend Alexus was murdered and ended up falling for each other. Zelia is a strong female which continues to be a reoccurring theme in her books. I like that. Again, a well written plot twist and a happy ending. Bravo Meg Tilly. Looking forward to reading more of your work.
This is the third and final book of the Solace Island series. Each book can be read independently. Alexus has died of an assumed overdose, but her friend, Zelia cannot accept that as a fact. The more she reflects on her friend’s personality, she knows is not possible. She contacts a new acquaintance, Gabriel (Gabe), who is a crime fiction author. Zelia believes he can either put her thoughts to rest, as a grief response or help her in convincing the police to further investigate. The story goes on from there and not wanting to give anything away, I will stop and just say that I was in the dark, as to who was the killer, for most of the book, not knowing what would happen next. I think the plot was excellent. After finishing the book, everything made sense and I could then see all the signs along the way that I missed. The story takes place on Solace Island, in Greenwich, and New York. The movement of locations, I think adds to the suspense, taking characters out of their comfort zone and also freeing them to take actions that maybe would not have happened if they were on their home turf. I adore Zelia! She is thirty-four, readily admits to being 40 pounds overweight, and is also a strikingly beautiful, sensual woman. This breaks the norm of female characters in their twenties and slim. Gabe is very helpful to Zelia searching for the truth behind Alexus’ death and from the first introduction Gabe and Zelia have a deep connection. Gabe realizes that he has seen her years before and that one moment in time, when he saw her previously, has always been etched in his mind. She was, and still is, his perfect woman. While there is a romance to this book, there is a much larger focus on suspense. There is a killer out there, who has a clear focus on who will be his next victim. Gabe and Zelia need to help solve the mystery of who the killer is and prevent further victims. There is comedic relief to the serious plot thanks to Gabe’s parents. They are outspoken, unfiltered and whatever hits their minds, also comes out their mouths. They are priceless! I think the author did a fantastic job with this book. I really enjoyed Ms. Tilly’s Solace Island series and will be looking forward to her next book series and where ever it will lead me.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved the first two books in this trilogy but was sadly disappointed in this one! I felt like this book rambled on and on about unimportant things instead of being concise and getting on with the actual story. I kept reading thinking it would get better but it didn't. I would not recommend reading this book if you enjoyed the first two.
Hidden Cove by Meg Tilly is the 3rd book in her Solace Island series. Zelia Thompson, our heroine, is a successful gallery owner on Solace Island. She receives a painting from a friend in another state, who is also a gallery owner, but Zelia is appalled how dark and scary the painting is. She turns down the request to show the painting, and a short time later her gallery friend dies from a drug overdose. Gabe Conaghan, our hero, is a successful author, who is vacationing on Solace Island, and when he sees Zelia in the coffee shop, he is immediately attracted to her. Zelia is always busy and doesn’t notice Gabe, which will change soon enough, but before that she realizes that her friend could not have overdosed as she never took drugs’. Gabe will begin to help Zelia investigate the circumstances of her friend’s death, and soon their friendship will escalate into a steamy romance. When Zelia’s employee goes missing, they do not think anything of it, as she occasionally goes away for a few days. But once Gabe finds somethings, they realize that perhaps her employee friend was kidnapped. We also get the POV of the murderer, and see clearly his insanity, and the desperation of the woman he kidnapped. We have no idea who he is, until much later in the book. Gabe is determined to stay near Zelia to protect her, and she also hires the other gallery friend’sowners assistant to help her What follows is an exciting, intense, suspenseful adventure as Zelia’s life is in danger, and Gabe must find a way to save her. The romance between Gabe and Zelia was sweet, as we watched them both slowly falling deeper in love. Their romance heats up, and the danger escalates for Zelia, as we race to an exciting and suspenseful climax. I do not want to give spoilers, as you will need to read this book to discover who the culprit was. Hidden Cove was a fun, enjoyable and captivating read, as well as having a great couple, excellent secondary characters, with a sweet romance and mystery. This reads very well as a standalone. Meg Tilly once again gives us another great romance suspense to enjoy. I wholly recommend you read the Solace Island series.
I enjoyed this story immensely. It was the right mixture of mystery, suspense, romance and fun. The author paints a great picture that made it so easy to imagine the story as if it were a movie while reading. Gabe is a fabulous hero and I had such a crush on him when reading this one. Zelia is a heroine that I would love to know in real life. The two together make a great team. The story moves fast and has a good amount of twists and turns. I really couldn't put it down once I started it. I received an advance copy from NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.
✦Review: HIDDEN COVE (Solace Island Series) by Meg Tilly Publication Date: October 1, 2019 Genre: Romantic Suspense Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Donna Rated 4 Stars I enjoyed this romantic suspense…and it was suspenseful! I like how the author gave just enough information that we could fill in the serial killer’s actions. I’m not a fan of graphic violence or torture, so it worked well for me. I loved Gabriel’s character. His family only added to his charm and made me smile. I liked Zella as well, but was a bit confused by her behavior during intimacy. To me it just didn’t match her backstory or her and Gabe’s actions. This romantic and tension-filled story pulled me in and held on tight. I can’t wait to see what Solace Island has in store for us. *Review copy provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.