Newly widowed Raven Blume was looking for a fresh start when
she returned to her ancestral home. Opening a medical clinic
was the best way to start over in Raven's Ridge, but with a
spooky local legend and a seemingly haunted house, her
prospects weren't looking very good. Enter Aidan McInnis,
her thought-to-be-deceased husband who is lurking in the
mist, watching over her very closely. He can't approach her
lest he gives her the very same target that had been
on his own back when he disappeared. With Raven inching her
way toward danger, Aidan wrestles with revealing himself and
putting her in higher risk, or sit back and watch the danger
helplessly from the shadows.
I've been a fan of Jenna Ryan's work for awhile. I love the
dark atmosphere, the
oh-no-lookout-something's-watching-from-the-mist feel, and
of course the romance. She sets up a romantic suspense with
a wonderful balance of both, never stepping too much over
the edge either way. Her characters are rich, and her
ability to transport me into the tale makes for one fun
afternoon. She delivers fast-paced dialogue that speeds by,
bullet fast, effectively upping the pacing of the story.
There is great romantic tension with the widowed wife,
Raven, who wasn't really a widow after all, yet has been
pining away for her "dead" husband for the last two years. I
felt for Raven, and it was believable that she took awhile
to reconstitute her old feelings for her beloved husband. In
all fairness he had a noble, even commendable, reason for
faking his death, but the way he handled the situation, not
Ms. Ryan has a way with constant action pulling the
story forward and bringing a natural flow and beat to her
characters' interactions. Her prose is smooth and sly. A
creepy old house and a creepy family legacy unite to bring
one helluva fun, gritty and fast story. Her fast-paced
staccato delivery keeps readers on their toes, holding their
breath during the back to back, thrilling action scenes. I
adored the supernatural aspect of her ancestor's legacy, the
morphing from man into bird. There was a sweet nostalgia
that enveloped the town, as well. Add in some black
Hitchcockian birds, and boy howdy it's setting up the stage
for one creepy mystery.
Pick up STRANGER ON RAVEN'S RIDGE for lots of action, eerie
settings, and a
fun mystery all bound together with romance.
Local legend said that sacrifice was the truest love of
Returning to her ancestral home, Raven
Blume needed a new start. So she opened a medical clinic in
order to escape the danger that had torn her life apart—and
claimed her husband's life. But local legend spoke of a
ghost, a reincarnated soul haunting her house, the one high
up on Raven's Ridge.…
Lurking within the mist was the
man she thought dead. Aidan McInnis remained out of sight,
venturing close enough to touch his Raven, but not daring
to. The moment he did, he put a target on her back. Time was
running out and Raven was quickly becoming familiar with
danger. Aidan would die again if he had to—especially if it
was the only way to protect her.
Aidan McInnis craved a foot–long sub, fully
loaded. And a Coke. Well, a beer really, but he was
driving, and his police partner, Len Gaitor, was not only
fully loaded, but currently weaving his way down the aisle
of Pop Daly's ancient Stop ‘N Shop. Their friend, George
Parkins, had fallen asleep in the backseat of Aidan's truck
half an hour ago.
They'd watched the Brewers take apart the Pirates, then
switched it up and checked out a handful of UFC matches in a
backstreet venue whose operation was at best
half–legal. But Aidan had drawn the line at the
stripper bar Gaitor had suggested after that. Hey, barely
twenty–four months married to a woman like Raven, even
a detective of ten plus years could say no without hesitation.
The out–of–sight door jangled as another
customer entered. Aidan heard a squelch of rubber while his
gaze explored the piss–poor selection of subs.
"Only got light beer left." Gaitor grumbled his way to
Aidan's side. "Can't keep a buzz on drinking damn soda pop.
Your wife's in Minnesota until Wednesday, McInnis. Let's
find us a girlie bar."
Aidan ran his gaze over the display again. Pathetic.
"Gotta work tomorrow, Gaitor."
He was about to downgrade his sub craving to a slightly
more palatable ham and Swiss on rye when he caught the angry
command up by the cash register.
Gaitor heard it, too, and scowled. "Wouldn't you just
frigging know it. Stupid punk needing cash for a fix is
hell–bent on screwing up my night. Talk about your
Aidan drew his Glock from the shoulder holster under his
jacket. "Kids behind the desk'll probably consider it good.
I'll take the rear."
He spotted the new arrival instantly, a lone male
wearing a gray hoodie and ski mask. The 9mm in his
double–fisted grip was pointed at the forehead of the
older store clerk. Less than two feet from his target, he
was unlikely to miss if he squeezed the trigger.
The old–fashioned drawer pinged as it sprang
outward. In the shadows, Aidan took aim.
"There's only fifteen bucks." The clerk's Adam's apple
bobbed. "See for yourself."
"Lift the tray out."
"But Pop won't – "
"Lift it!" the thief snapped. His gun hand shook, and
his breath heaved in and out. "You don't do what I tell
you, more than your night's gonna be over."
"Stop right there," Aidan said from slightly behind him.
The masked head jerked around. For a moment, nothing
and no one moved.
"I'm a cop," Aidan warned. "And I'm guessing I'm a
helluva lot better shot than you."
The thief started to lower his arms. Then the floor
creaked, and he snatched them up again. He fired wide
twice, and twice more with better aim. The clerks vanished
behind the counter.
Aidan went for the right arm. It should have been an
easy hit. But in a lightning–quick move, the thief
leaped sideways and exposed his full chest. Aidan's bullet
struck him at the same instant the thief's bullet embedded
itself in a tall shelf. The man took two staggering steps
forward. And dropped like a stone to the floor.
At the entry door, George Parkins stood with an owlish
expression his face that suggested he had no idea where he was.
Gaitor lurched into sight. With his eyes locked on the
fallen man, he used his toe to nudge an unmoving arm.
"Uh, what...?" was the best George seemed able to manage.
The younger clerk stared, pop–eyed. "Is he dead?"
"As a doornail," Gaitor confirmed. He withdrew his
fingers. "You had no choice, Aidan. You couldn't have
known he'd turn."
"Are you hurt?" Aidan asked the older clerk.
"Yes – I mean no, not bad. He – he got my
arm a little."
Aidan made a head motion at George who was alert enough
to duck under the pass–through.
"You saved my life." The injured clerk's voice
trembled. "He was gonna do me for following Pop's stupid
The eyes of the thief, already glassy, stared upward
from the scarred linoleum floor. His mouth sagged open.
Aidan tugged off the ski mask that covered his face.
And, closing his own eyes, he swore long and full.
"What?" Gaitor demanded. Then he looked down, and his
shoulders drooped. "Jason Demars. Hell."
Close, Aidan decided. Dangerously close.
Thoughts spiraled through his head. But the one that
stood out, the one that intensified as it repeated again and
again and again was simple and concise.
He was a dead man.
Raven's Cove, Maine
Two years later
"You've lost your mind. I mean it. You are deep in the
woods with no bread crumbs, heading straight for the
gingerbread house." George Parkins dug in and held on as
Raven downshifted the small cube van to navigate the steep
slope. "This is crazy. You're on track to be a
top–flight diagnostic physician. What on earth made
you listen to a man five decades older than Methuselah and
put a to–die–for job on hold? And please don't
say so you could practice medicine in the speck of a town
where Methuselah's grandfather lives."
Raven kept her eyes on the thin slice of road that
probably hadn't seen a paving crew since Elvis's time.
"Methuselah's grandfather is my great–grandfather,
George. His name's Rooney Blume.
"And he's in possession of how many faculties?"
"More than you and me combined, I imagine." She sent
him a quick grin. Very quick. The pothole she'd avoided a
moment ago could have passed for a wading pool. "Raven's
Cove needs a doctor. The population tops a thousand these
days and all they have physician–wise is a retired
army medic with so–so vision and a lingering case of
shell shock. That won't provide much comfort to a woman in
her third trimester or a man with a ruptured hernia.
Besides – " she downshifted again " – you
volunteered to ride shotgun. No one's asking you to live here."
George offered back a strange look. "So you've decided
to make the move, then? I'd hoped you were only doing a
favor for an old man."
"I am – for now. I wanted to check out Raven's
Cove, the drive's manageable even in a rattletrap truck, and
I like doing favors for friends and family. Especially for
one very old man who's optimistic enough to believe he'll be
able to enjoy a kitchen full of new appliances well into the
With a baffled shake of his head, George regarded the
sky. "Are those purply–black things up there rain
Raven avoided a deep rut. "My mother says they're a
perpetual formation at this time of year."
"Uh, okay... Do I want to know why?"
A teasing smile appeared. "It's part of an ancient
legend. Involves one of my ancestors. Said ancestor,
Hezekiah Blume, allowed an evil spirit to take possession of
his soul. He thought better of it later, but couldn't
wriggle out of the deal without major help. Enter a good
spirit who tried and failed to exorcise its nasty
counterpart. The only option left was transformation. Man
and evil became a raven."
"So you're...are you telling me you were named for a
"In a way. But only if you want to be technical, which
my mother hasn't been since the day she was born. They
called her Spacey Lacy when she lived here."
"Who are they?"
"Acquaintances mostly, many of whom have absolutely no
business throwing stones since the bulk of them believe that
any person finding three raven's feathers on their door is
destined to die."
"Raven's feathers," George repeated. "On the door."
"Placed there by the clairvoyant raven into which
Hezekiah was transformed."
George stared at her. "When did this transformation
"Three centuries ago, give or take."
‘So we're talking about one freaking old bird."
"If you believe, yes. Otherwise, it's just a bread
crumb and gingerbread tale." Her lips twitched at his
befuddled expression. "I did warn you before you flew to
Portland that Raven's Coe was a little odd, and you might
want to rethink your decision to come."
When his features softened, Raven sighed. Despite the
distance between Milwaukee and Rochester where she now
lived, George had been coming on to her for the past twelve
months in his own quiet way. She'd been able to sidestep
his advances to this point, but it occurred to her now that
his being in Raven's Cove, even for a few short days, might
prove – tricky. And the twinges of guilt she'd been
experiencing lately didn't help.
Before her conscience could get the better of her, she
motioned at a structure coming into view through a dense
stand of woods. "There it is. Blume House. Hezekiah's
pride and joy. Until he slid into a funk and went all evil
host on his friends and family."
George's bespectacled eyes widened as the house grew in
size. "It's like a Black Forest castle."
"Back in the day – in Germany where it was
originally built – it was a fortified manor house.
Aidan and I came here once." Although the pain still sliced
deep, Raven pushed through it and continued. "It was before
we were married, a few short weeks before a storm took out
half the west wing. The house has been vacant for the past
"Looks like it's been vacant for the past five decades."
Raven eased the truck to a halt outside a set of rusting
iron gates fashioned into the silhouette of a raven.
George's gaze glued itself to the gothic–style
house behind them. "You're considering setting up a
medical clinic here in – I'm sorry, I have to say it
– spook central?"
"I am, unless the hurricane damage is more extensive
than Rooney claims." Raven banded her arms around the
steering wheel and leaned forward to look. "It's a
rejuvenating prospect, a sea change from the work I've been
doing in Minnesota."
"At the Mayo Clinic, Raven. That's one pretty desirable
"Venue doesn't matter. That I'd be doing something more
community oriented does. Losing Aidan..." The breath she
drew threatened to choke her, but she persevered. "Losing
him took me out of my orbit for a long, long time. I'm not
back in it yet, not all the way in it, but I know what I
need to do, and that's something vastly different from what
I've been doing for the past two years.
George's gray eyes sobered. "I could help you with that
She took care with her expression and her tone. "You
did, and you are. Believe me, George, if I could..." She
halted to twist in her seat and peer down the road.
Unsure, George mimicked the move. "What?"
"I don't know. A feeling. Probably nothing." But she
couldn't stop the shiver that chased itself over her warm
skin. "This might sound weird – and for ‘weird' read
‘paranoid' – but I keep thinking there's someone
behind me. Following me, maybe watching me. Closely and
"Like a Peeping Tom?"
"More like a shadow."
"Or a ghost?"
From under the bill of her Brewers cap, Raven slid her
narrowed eyes to his face. "I'm not channelling Aidan.
This is a legitimate intuitive feeling. And yes, I know
those terms contradict each other. I also know Captain
Beckett hasn't been really easy about things since Gaitor
dropped off the radar twenty–plus months ago."
Worry invaded George's features. "He's not alone. Last
I saw of Gaitor, he was heading out with a six–pack
and a loaded sub. ‘Homage to Aidan,' he told me. Then he
got in his crappy little car and drove home to watch a
football game. That was a week after his retirement party.
Since then, there's been no sign of him. It's like the
ground swallowed him whole. He even left his car behind."
Raven tried not to let her skin crawl. People did
strange things. Gaitor didn't owe her or anyone an
explanation for his behavior. Assuming his disappearing act
had been behavioral, and not a belated shot fired by a
still–seething and not–yet–sated crime lord.
Cheery prospect, she reflected and gave the bill of her
cap a tug. Hopping out, she stretched her arms upward to
relieve the ache in her back. "I think that might have been
the longest drive ever."
"No argument here." George shrugged the stiffness from
his shoulders. "How do we... uh, hmm, okay. That's kind of
In front of them, the gates stuttered inward with a
screech of old metal.