Title- The Storm and the Darkness
Series- The House of Crimson and Clover Book # 2
By-Sarah M. Cradit
Publication Date-July 6, 2013
Ana Deschanel has made a terrible mistake. The only chance of protecting the other people involved is to flee New Orleans, the only home she has ever known, for the quiet solitude of Summer Island.
Summer Island, Maine (population 202) is not the tranquil escape Ana imagined. The locals are distant and cold, especially her neighbor, the reclusive veterinarian Jonathan St. Andrews. Her only lifeline is the kind but odd caretaker Alex Whitman. Showing up at all the right moments, he warns her she is completely unprepared for a Maine winter. As the first winter storm approaches to whispers of an island shutdown- Ana realizes that she may soon be cut off from the rest of the world.
After a surprising encounter with Jonathan’s brother, Finn, Ana finds herself braving the storm to return something to him. Unprepared for the Maine storm, she slips and falls onto the jagged rocks along the shore. The St. Andrews brothers find her in the nick of time, but she remains unconscious. As the storm worsens, the St. Andrews brothers learn there are other, more sinister forces at work closer than they ever imagined.
With no help from the outside world, they must find a way to protect themselves from both the storm, and the growing darkness that looms across the island.
Ana started up the gravel path leading to the Casco Bay Lighthouse. Every afternoon, she would take a walk. Every afternoon, when she reached the narrow hill leading up toward the lighthouse, she would keep walking, ending up instead near Edgewater's, and then back through downtown and home. Today, something compelled her to climb the hill and investigate.
Since the day Ana arrived, her interest was piqued by the old, crumbling structure. Despite its necessity, it seemed so out of place, jutting up awkwardly from the raised earth like it didn't belong. More, it did not look anything like she expected. Unlike the tall, graceful, white structures in the postcards, the Casco Bay Lighthouse was a shorter, squatter building painted with loud, but peeling, stripes of red and white. It reminded her of a clownish barber pole, forgotten and left to rot.
It was the highest point on the island, sitting atop Edgewater Point, the only hill on Summer Island. In addition to the hill, a man-made rock base raised the diminutive monolith even higher. It has to be high enough for mariners to see the light, Alex had said to her. Ana wondered how it looked from the sea.
Even from the bottom of the long, gravel hill, Ana could see the peeling paint and the broken railings at the top; the latter sent unexpected chills down her spine as she wondered how long the serrated, rusted bars had hung into the wind like that. They were dangling by what seemed like little more than a thread. They did not have the look of something that had been broken gently.
The cool breeze lapped at her face as she climbed higher. The path took her far above the shoreline, and she could see the many ships in the Atlantic. I bet one of those is Finn St. Andrews.
When Ana reached the top, the wind slowly died, and the base of the lighthouse came into full view. Up close, it looked even more derelict than it had from afar, the white stripes having faded to a dull gray. The red, in contrast, was bright as fresh blood. Around the base was a sloppily placed cyclone fence with barbed wire at the top, and signs posted around it stating: KEEP OUT, and PRIVATE PROPERTY. The weeds and vines, curling and twisting up and around the bottom few feet of the lighthouse base, left her with the distinct impression that the building was not just private, but abandoned.
Graffiti, angled along the graying stripes, shouted: DESTROY HERON HALLOWS and JESUS LOVES CARLA. Neither of those things meant anything to Ana, but she made a mental note to ask Alex later. He would know.
Ana caught a glimpse, in her peripheral vision, of what looked like grave markers. Upon closer inspection, they were the simple, white crosses that were common along highways, marking the death of a beloved family member. Yet...there were four of them, like a small, private cemetery. She knelt down in the gravel and read their names: Carla Edgewater. Lionel Shepherd. Sandra Finnerty. Emily Caldwell.
“What the hell?” She whispered. That explained who Carla was, sort of. Did they all die here?
Ana stepped back, and her foot slipped in the gravel, nearly sending her over the sea cliff. Heart racing, she righted herself, wondering how she hadn't noticed her proximity to the edge. She could see jagged cuts into the rock, indicating that there had once been more land between the lighthouse and the serrated merger of water and land below. Looking down at the outcropping of rocks amongst the waves, she realized how high she had climbed. It had looked so close from the bottom.
Backing away, Ana looked out at the ocean again, noticing that the ships were all making their way back toward their respective ports. The goose bumps rose on her arms, as wind picked back up. Moments later, the rain started, quickly increasing in intensity. Within minutes, she was drenched.
Ana pulled her heavy coat tight around her. She turned to make her way back home when she backed into something firm, startling her. Strong arms quickly righted her. She gasped, jumping.
"Tis just me," Alex's comforting voice sang behind her. "Poor dear, let's get ya out of this rain!" Before she could say anything, he motioned for her to follow, and he jogged toward the rear of the lighthouse.
As he entered through a hole in the fence, Ana wondered, Are we actually going inside? He can't be serious. Then Alex did enter, and Ana, soaked to the bone and shivering, could do nothing but follow.
Alex flipped a large switch on the wall and the room lit up in a dull, ambient light. The lighthouse was much smaller inside than out, and the only sign of ongoing activity was the small wooden desk in the corner strewn with paperwork. Next to the desk was a space heater, sitting on the exposed cement floor. Aside from those few objects, the circular room was completely bare.
As Alex turned on the heater, Ana rushed over and knelt before it, soaking up the heat.
"There ya go," Alex said, soothingly. He patted her on the head. "You'll be right as rain in no time." He chuckled at his joke.
"What are you doing up here?" Ana asked, through clattering teeth. "I suppose that sounded ungrateful. Thank you for rescuing me." She was shocked at how quickly she could get cold here, compared with how long it took to warm up. This is definitely not New Orleans.
"Why, I work here," Alex replied, with a note of pride in his voice. "Did I not tell ya?"
Ana shook her head.
"Ya. Took over the care on this place about, oh, two years ago now. 'Fore that, it was closed fer about ten years." Ana noted that he made no move toward the heater. His jacket was only damp compared to hers, which looked as if she had taken a dip in the Atlantic. She deduced there must be a road leading up the hill, for she hadn't spotted anyone on the path when she arrived.
"Does it work?" Ana asked.
"Most certainly," Alex said. "It never stopped workin’.”
"Then why was it closed?"
"I don't s'pose ya noticed the crosses out front?" He asked. He was looking out the sole, round window, gazing in the direction of the sea.
"Sort of hard to miss four of them," Ana responded, feeling the overwhelming urge to cross herself. "Did they die here? At the lighthouse?"
Alex walked over and pulled the chair out, settling it in front of the heater. He motioned for Ana to sit down. He wore a sad look of resignation, but she could see he was going to answer her question with a story. She had come to enjoy, and even welcome, Alex's stories, though this one was unlikely to have a happy ending.
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What Reviewers Are Saying About The Storm and the Darkness:
"A suspenseful adult thriller. Reading this book felt much like riding a roller coaster, from the building crescendo, to surprising moments of laughter, to an end that satisfies with a strange mixture of relief, sadness, and a hunger for more."
"The Storm and the Darkness is a very well written fast paced story, I couldn't put it down."
"Sarah Cradit's writing is tight and masterful. There were no points during the journey through reading this novel where I thought anything could have been removed or expanded upon. Her keen sense of how to pace a book and her ability to use just the right language to express the desires, fears and hopes of her characters is flawless."
"I highly recommend The Storm and the Darkness, a tale of mystery, drama, and suspense, and the prequel, St. Charles at Dusk."
"Cradit has the awesome talent of making each character believable. Making the reader sit on the edge of their set waiting for more."
"If you like to read and fully immerse yourself into your reading this is the book for you."
"Now I just have to get my hands on the first book, and the next and next and next until I am satisfied!"
"Wow. Mystery, magic, suspense that even made me slightly jumpy, family and just enough romantic intrigue to keep me well, intrigued :) The writing is fabulously done, I loved how Sarah M. Cradit tells a story."
The Storm and the Darkness Online:
Anasofiya Deschanel (30)- Ana is aloof, withdrawn, and considered by some even to be cold. In reality, she lacks the ability to connect with others in any meaningful way, with the exception of her cousin and lifelong confidante Nicolas. After she makes a terrible mistake in New Orleans, she flees for Maine in an attempt to protect everyone involved. For the first time in her life, she has kept something from Nicolas, who suspects that she is not being completely forthright about her reasons for leaving.
Nicolas Deschanel (30)- The cocky, brash, f-bomb loving cousin of Ana. He is single, with no intentions of changing that, instead enjoying the company of a different woman every night. Being the son of the late and venerable Charles Deschanel, his incomparable wealth allows him to live any lifestyle he wants. The truth, though, is that Nicolas has never found anything interesting enough to occupy his time. Nothing that gives his life meaning.
Jonathan St. Andrews (32)- Jon is the oldest St. Andrews brother. He is the reclusive, and sometimes rude, veterinarian of the small community of Summer Island. Showing an aptitude for medicine, like his father, in his youth, he instead abandoned it for veterinary medicine. He is very wary of Ana’s arrival on the island, afraid he might have to interact with her as her neighbor. Truthfully, though, Jon senses a similar darkness in Ana that scares him.
Finnegan St. Andrews (27)- The younger St. Andrews brother, Finn is easy and carefree, the opposite of his brother Jon. He spends his days on his boat, supplying lobster to many of the local Maine communities. Unlike Jon, he is immediately intrigued by Ana, whom he sees is not like the other girls he’s been with. Where Jon seeks to push her away, Finn is eager to get to know her.
Colin “Oz” Sullivan (30)- Kind, sensitive, thoughtful. Oz is connected through the Deschanels both through his lifelong friendship with Nicolas, but also his marriage to Nicolas’ younger sister, Adrienne.
Alex Whitman (50s)- The odd, middle-aged caretaker of Ana’s home. Very little is known about Alex’s personal life, except for the fact that his parents were brutally murdered when he was a child. Theirs are one of several unsolved murders on this small island.
Augustus Deschanel (60s)- The sharp, clever businessman father of Ana. He built his media empire out of nearly nothing, despite having the Deschanel resources at his disposal. His wife, and Ana’s mother, Catherine, died giving birth to Ana. Catherine was the only woman he ever felt a passion for, and his second marriage, to a woman named Barbara, was sought for more practical reasons. Augustus is not comfortable in expression, and so his relationship with Ana is often strained.
The House of Crimson and Clover Series
The House of Crimson and Clover series follows the lives of two New Orleans families: the august and mysterious Sullivans and Deschanels. The Sullivans, a family of hard-working Irish lawyers, have come from nothing and built a life they can be proud of. The Deschanels, a moderately wealthy family who became extremely wealthy by siding with the North during the Civil War, betraying their people. Both families have a dark and rich history, full of secrets, and full of surprises.
The books in this series unravel the stories of both the individuals as well as the families themselves, discovering the ways these families and their secrets intersect, and each story pulls us even farther into their stories.
While the series is meant to be treated as one long narrative, each book can stand-alone and be enjoyed without having read the other books.
The House of Crimson and Clover Series Online:
Sarah is the author of the Southern Fiction series, The House of Crimson and Clover. The series was born of her combined loves of New Orleans, family dramas, and the mysterious nature of love and desire. Her books combine elements of mystery, suspense, intrigue, romance, and even paranormal. She is always working on the next book in the series, and absolutely loves connecting with her fans.
Sarah lives in the Pacific Northwest, but has traveled the world from Asia to Europe to Africa. When she isn't working (either at her day career, or hard at work at writing), she is reading a book and discovering new authors. The great loves of her life (in order) are: her husband James, her writing, and traveling the world.
Author's Online Links: