Book Review: “The Widows of Braxton County” by Jess McConkey.

The Widows of Braxton County
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical
Format: Time-split between 1890’s and 2012; 47 Chapters

Find It: Amazon  /  Goodreads  /  Author Website

First Line: “Hannah Krause drew the back of her hand over her eyes and, careful of the squeaking bedsprings, slowly rolled onto her side.”

Description from Book: Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she marries Joseph Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn’t quite as idyllic as she’d hoped. It’s filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who — unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding — will be living with them.

As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.

Topics Covered: family relationships, secrets, haunted pasts, family dynamics, self-discovery, history, abusive relationships, family legacies, paranormal

My Review: I began reading author Shirley Damsgaard‘s books a few years ago and was instantly attached to her Ophelia and Abby mystery series. When I caught wind that she was writing under a pen name (Jess McConkey) and she was looking for help with promoting her new book, I couldn’t resist.

“The Widows of Braxton County” is one of my absolute favorite books I have come across in a very long time. Within the first few chapters, I was shaking my head with a smile, thinking how Ms. Damsgaard had outdone herself once again. What seemingly starts out as historical fiction meeting contemporary fiction, the book takes twists and turns through sensitive topics like abusive relationships, with scattered touches of the paranormal, curses, and magic.

The story is split between the 1890’s and 2012. During the 1890’s, the focus of the book is on Hannah, her husband, Jacob, and their sons, Willie and Joseph. Between the demands of their farming business and Jacob’s abusive tendencies, tragedy strikes when Jacob is murdered in his bed one night. Hannah, being the only adult in the home at the time, is subsequently charged with her husband’s murder.

Fast forward to 2012, where the focus of the book is Kate, her new husband Joe, and Joe’s mother, Trudy. Joe and Trudy are descendants of Hannah’s murdered husband, Jacob. Joe and Trudy strongly believe in a family curse and use it as a crutch to describe every negative event in their family’s history. Not too long into Kate and Joe’s new marriage, tragedy strikes again in more ways than one. Kate soon finds herself in similar shoes to Hannah, pleading with the tight-knit farming community and digging for the truth.

“The Widows of Braxton County” is a story of family legacies and morals we pass down through the generations. The story will wrap around you like a warm blanket on a winter night, drawing you in with more questions and mysteries. The ending will leave you fulfilled, but desperately wanting to know more about Kate, her future, and the prospects of the family.

“The Widows of Braxton County” by Jess McConkey was released yesterday, July 23, 2013! If you haven’t added this book to your to be read pile yet, you’re already missing out. If a 10 out of 5 stars rating was possible, McConkey’s book would take the cake.

[Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the author and I am a member of her street team. My review of the book is in no way swayed or altered from my true feelings due to this association. I was not endorsed for this review or my involvement in the street team.]

Overall Rating: 5/5

“That’s good, because I’m going to be watching out that front window.
I’ll have my cell phone in one hand and my shotgun in the other.
If you so much as touch her, we’ll see which one I use first.”

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