Book Review: The Secret of Willow Inn

7 Mar

Two women fighting for their dreams — one who’s long lost hers — are united by tragedy and a long-held secret.

Pregnant with her first child, Emily Hayes is eager to help her mother finish transforming an estate into the Willow Inn and write a novel about Willow Falls’ colorful history. A tragic event threatens her parents’ plans to refurbish an abandoned hotel and transform the obscure Georgia setting into a tourist destination.

Sadie Lyles left Willow Falls a murderer who’d killed the town hero. She returns as a despised felon and seeks solace in the town’s café. Emily struggles to unite the close-knit community and becomes Sadie’s biggest advocate. She strives to uncover the truth about the crime and save her town from dying.

To appease her father, Rachel, a VP in his Atlanta real-estate-development firm, relegates her acting dream to secret performances for imaginary audiences. After meeting charming, flirtatious Charlie Bricker, manager for Willow Falls’ future vineyard, she vows to break free from her father’s control.

The tragedy and Willow Inn’s secret past launch Emily and Rachel on a collision course with destiny and truth.

During the spring, summer, and early autumn of Pat Nichols‘ life, she and her high-school-sweetheart husband struggled and triumphed through life’s peaks and valleys. After raising two children, welcoming four grandchildren–one is with the angels–buying a Corvette, retiring, and ticking off every item on their travel bucket list, she asked “what’s next”. The answer? Pursue a second career as a novelist.

Following a twenty-five-year corporate career working with amazing women from all walks of life, she created a series about two women pursuing their dreams in the midst of trials and triumphs. The Secret of Willow Inn is set in Atlanta and Willow Falls, a fictitious north Georgia town. It follows a cast of characters and the town’s struggle to survive. Book two in the series is scheduled for release January 2020. The third is a current work in progress.

Although she writes five days a week, she and her husband take time to laugh and enjoy their fifty-plus-year marriage. They lead a small group, volunteer for church guest services, participate in two social organizations, and spend time with family and friends.

Pat is proving it’s never to late to follow your dreams. She is grateful she can still paint her own toenails and dance with her hubby. Born in Illinois, she grew up in Orlando and has called Georgia home for thirty-eight years.


My Impressions:

It has been a while since I have read a true cozy mystery — the kind set in a small, quaint town populated with plenty of quirky characters. That’s exactly what I got with The Secret of Willow Inn, Pat Nichols’ first book in the Willow Falls series. A bonus is that it is set in a fictional north Georgia mountain town similar to the one where I have a cabin. I could picture the shops and the scenery, as well as the hometown feel. Add a many-layered mystery, and this one is a winner. Recommended.

The town of Willow Falls doesn’t have the many attractions of other north Georgia tourist towns. A waterfall and a decades-old murder can’t sustain the economy. So the whole town is depending on two of their citizens to revitalize the community. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, threatening to end the dream of a new and improved Willow Falls. But with tragedy comes some opportunities and a chance at a second chance for more than one resident.

As stated, I loved the north Georgia setting of The Secret of Willow Inn. But the fictional small town isn’t the only place the action takes place. Atlanta plays a large role as well, and since I have a son who lives there, I could envision the streets and buildings that I am fond of — the Sundial Room and the Alliance Theater being just two. The author does a great job of making the reader see what the characters see. The two main characters, Rachel and Emily, are from very different backgrounds, yet their stories intersect in interesting ways. Secondary characters add great support, and there are a number who fit the quirky title to a T! A number of mysteries unfold, each in a unique way, and I loved how Nichols wove fresh starts, second chances, and forgiveness throughout.

The Secret of Willow Inn promises to be just the first of a fun and thoughtful series. I look forward to many more visits to Willow Falls.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It’s only $3.99 for Kindle!)

(Thanks to JustRead Blog Tours for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Secret of Willow Inn”

  1. BeckieWrites March 7, 2019 at 9:15 am #

    This was such a good book! Great review 🙂

    • rbclibrary March 7, 2019 at 9:00 pm #

      I’m looking forward to more books in the series.

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