I love to read. I read all the time, every day. Okay, I don't spend every day all day reading, but given the opportunity I would! I read various genres but sometimes I get stuck in a rut. I find myself pulling out my favorites and re-reading them. I enjoy a good story. I like to escape in to another world for a time.
I thoroughly enjoyed Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson for that reason. In fact, it had me neglecting a lot of things around the house as I couldn't put it down. I really like books that weave mystery and suspense throughout the story line.
The main character, Camden Bristow, finds herself at the bottom. She has lost her job, her apartment, and has very little money left. She turns to the one constant in her life, her Grandmother, but she hasn't spoken to her grandmother in a while. She arrives to find out that her dear Grandmother has passed away. However, she left Camden the family home. It seems as if life is getting a bit easier, but that's when the mystery begins.
There are rumors that the house she has inherited is haunted. There are rumors that there is a treasure hidden on the property. There are also rumors that her ancestors helped runaway slaves - that the house on Crescent Hill was a station on the Underground Railroad.
What I really liked was how all the characters were interwoven. It really is a small world out there and I found it quite plausible in how all the characters were interconnected. The connection to the Underground Railroad was also very interesting and it's peaked my interest to find out even more in this time period of US history.
Refuge on Crescent Hill is told from four people’s perspectives about the mysteries surrounding Crescent Hill. At first I was afraid the different points of view would get confusing, but I actually enjoyed getting the whole story as it unfolded. Since the reader does follow the different perspectives, you tend to know everything as it is discovered by each person, rather than just as one person discovers it. Because of this, I wouldn’t call it a hard-core suspense novel that leaves you guessing until the end; the twists and turns along the way were revealed more gradually. However, I enjoyed this way of telling the story.
I sometimes felt that the characters were repeating themselves a lot during their thoughts. I realize that we are following them during an intense period of time in their lives, and their focus is mainly on the house and what is going on in the town. But, it sometimes felt as if I was reading the same thoughts today that Camden had had yesterday and the day before. So, it felt a little repetitive in between the twist and turns and revelations.
Although I felt this repetitiveness at times, I was still engrossed in the story. I love when contemporary books explore a mystery that happened hundreds of years ago, and the way all the stories came together was really interesting. I also appreciated that the romance in this novel was present, yet understated, more like it would happen in real life. It didn’t feel sappy to me, which I really respect in a contemporary novel.
Refuge on Crescent Hill is a novel that has it all: mystery, romance, compassion, history, and above all, hope.
I found myself really enjoying this book. I had never heard of the author was excited to get to read someone new to me. This book did not disappoint. Though I will say the start of the book (first few chapters) was a little slow and confusing since the author was setting the backdrop of the story and introducing the many characters. Once the story got going and you knew who was who I found the book hard to put down. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery, suspense book with a little romance mixed in. I would say this is a 4 star book!
Oh my. This the first book I have read by Melanie Dobson and I am sure it will not be my last. I loved this book! I could not put it down! This story is full of twists and turns and will keep you in suspense until the very end.
The story has a very real feel to it. The characters are well developed and the plot line is very believable. If you love suspense you will really enjoy this story! I really loved the Camden and Alex. Camden grows and changes so much throughout this story. You watch her draw closer to God as the story progresses. I really like that this is a Christian story but is not your typical Christian fiction. I really loved this book!
Disclosure: I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.
Camden inherits the Bristow Mansion when her grandmother dies, but the house needs so many repairs and Camden is almost out of money so she doesn't know if she can keep the house that's been in the Bristow family for generations.
Soon though, she learns that someone is sneaking around her house - and stealing her purse! What is this person up to and what does he/she want with the house?...
I find houses that have hidden rooms or secret passageways interesting - and since 'Refuge on Crescent Hill' features a house that was a part of the Underground Railroad and has a secret tunnel, it's hardly a surprise that I really enjoyed it!
To me, 'Refuge on Crescent Hill' was a cozy mystery (I don't think I found anything scary, but there was a lot of mystery). It had an interesting plot and the characters themselves were intriguing.
After reading 'Refuge on Crescent Hill', I now look forward to reading more Melanie Dobson novels (maybe 'The Black Cloister'?)
I recommend 'Refuge on Crescent Hill' if you enjoy reading mystery novels with a little romance.
*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion.*
Refuge on Crescent Hill is a book that is a wonderful read and I’m not just saying that because I live in Ohio and the book is set in Ohio or the fact that it has a ton of history that centers around the Underground Railroad. This book pulls you in from the first chapter and will keep you wanting to read far into the night, which is what I did – I tried to sleep but I HAD to finish this book.
This is a suspense book written with a Christian viewpoint – so when ghosts are mentioned the only people who actually believe in that are those who aren’t Christians and have reason to fear Satan’s tricks. It’s been my dream to have an old historic home – with or without the hidden staircases – and I could fully picture this beautiful mansion tucked up on Crescent Hill. As the mystery unravels you’ll be pulled into Camden’s life and feel for her as she battles herself on whether to keep her Grandma’s house or sell it – but to whom?
Faith is what get these characters through the tension in this book and helps them deal with those evil forces that seem ready to bring them all down. Even though there is romance in the book I like the fact that there wasn’t anything explicit going on between the male and female characters which meant I could enjoy the book without becoming embarrassed from what I was reading. If you enjoy a good Christian suspense book then Refuge on Crescent Hill is the book for you and if you enjoy Civil War and Underground Railroad history as well as reading books based in Ohio, well then you better grab it!
**I was given a copy of this book through Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.
Camden Bristow is feeling the effects of the economy. She is a free-lance photographer living in New York who finds herself without any job prospects or money. Being kicked out of her apartment with less than five hundred dollars left on her credit card she decides to return to the home where she spent many happy summers with her grandmother Rosalie even though its been years since she has spoken to her grandmother, but when she arrives in the tiny town of Etherton Ohio what she finds at the family mansion called Crescent Hill is that her grandmother has passed away and the mansion is falling into disrepair. Having no place else to go she stays at the family home anyway and quickly finds herself wondering if someone else isn't in the house. Camden has never believed in the rumors that ghosts haunt the mansion and when a few things start disappearing she is pretty sure someone is getting into the house, but how? Could it be true that there are underground tunnels that date back to slave days, and could Crescent Hill actually have been a stop on the Underground Railroad?
I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this story as well as the mystery and intrigue that surrounded the history of the Bristow family.While Camden was the primary story I loved the secondary stories that went on and how they all came together at the end. The characters were very easy to connect with, especially Camden. Crescent Hill was the only place where she ever felt like she belonged. It was nice to see her grow and watch her priorities change as the book progressed. I also felt empathy for Alex, as he continued to carry the blame for not doing enough to save his sister and nephew. I thought the christian themes woven into the story was well done, especially the message of helping others. I also got a few laughs from reading about the antics of the Sprague children especially Hailey, that little girl had a wonderful imagination.
Overall if your looking for a contemporary story that is firmly rooted in the historical era of the underground railroad, that weaves mystery, suspense, a bit of romance with a nice inspirational story then your certainly in for a treat with this story. Recommended!
*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
The cover of Melanie Dobson's novel, Refuge on Crescent Hill, evokes the mysterious aura that lingers, almost tangibly, until the last page. The grand home on Crescent Hill is a primary character in the novel, and she shines with a faded beauty through the dust and peeling paint. Dobson speaks of Crescent Hill in rich detail, drawing the reader in to uncover its past and present secrets. Each of the main and secondary characters is somehow tied to the house, and their lives entwine in unexpected ways. Like any good suspense, there are good guys, bad guys, victims, and heroes. There is little mystery as to who is good and who is bad; their loyalties are fairly clear from the beginning of the novel. Dobson tells the story from several different perspectives: Camden Bristow, Alex Yates, Jake Paxton, and Stephanie Ellison-Carter. Each chapter is comprised of various scenes, each told from the viewpoint of a different main character. A scene often ends right before something is revealed, which moves the plot at a steady pace to keep the reader interested.
As a fan of historic homes and history, the setting of this novel is the highlight for me. Although the plot is modern day, its focus on the past provides just the right amount of historic elements. The connection of the house to the Underground Railroad differentiates the Refuge on Crescent Hill from other novels. I've read books set during the Civil War and the years of slavery, but have seen little mention of the Underground Railroad. It is inspiring to read about the sacrifices the families made in the quest and fight for freedom. I enjoyed looking at the photos of the real house that inspired the story on Melanie Dobson's website.
The romance element is quite small in this novel. It is primarily a mystery, but is also story about love and sacrifice. There is ultimately romantic interest between Camden and Alex, but the development of their relationship is not a primary focus. There were moments in the story that I wanted more depth. I did not feel entirely connected to the characters, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless. Refuge on Crescent Hill is a page-turner until the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I always enjoy reading a good mystery novel. Melanie Dobson takes her readers on a journey through history and family mysteries in "Refuge on Crescent Hill." Different people with different lives somehow all intertwined with each other in one way or another.
Now what is she supposed to do?! The magazine company has closed and she was never paid for her last job she did for them. No job, no money, and now...no home. Where was she supposed to go? Camden didn't have family in New York. She definitely wasn't going to run to mom. That leaves the grandmother she hasn't seen in years. She will head back to Ohio for a little visit. Her grandmother would be able to help her out. Now, which way to Crescent Hill? Camden Bristow has no idea that this will not be the homecoming she is expecting.
Stephanie has a paper to write for class. An unsolved mystery from her family's past seems just about right for the project. She will just need to visit her Aunt Debra to get the details. She wasn't sure how that would go because her cousin (Aunt Debra's son) had been found guilty of murdering his wife and baby. Maybe Aunt Debra would be okay and could give her some answers about all those childhood stories about some missing treasure. When she arrived and the questions started, Stephanie was handed an old journal. She took it home to read and found out some real truths. Her paper was going to become something more than the missing jewelry and more about a missing person, William. Why had he not returned? Her questions took her to William's great-grandson and then on a journey to Ohio to find Crescent Hill.
Alex Yates moved to Etherton, Ohio to start fresh. After his sister and nephew were murdered by her abusive husband he has been trying to move on. A new town and a new job. What else could he possibly do to forget the past and lose that strong feeling of guilt the devil tried to push on him? Working for the mayor in this small historic town seems like the perfect place. God brought him here for a reason I suppose. He has the hard job of trying to keep this old town on the map. Creating jobs and revenue, but keeping that small town feeling. They've shot down all of his ideas thus far. A young lady approaches him for directions to her grandmother's house. He gave them to her as he looked at her curiously. He doesn't remember seeing her at the funeral. Was this the other grand-daughter? Now that place up on Crescent Hill has some great value. Not the home specifically, but the land. He will have to get with her later about purchasing the property.
Jake Paxton had been going through the underground tunnel that connects his grandfather's home to the Bristow home on the hill. It's not something he personally enjoys, but Edward has sent him on a mission. It would help if he had a little more detail as to what he was looking for. Some sort of treasure is what his grandfather keeps telling him. For 200 years the Paxton family has been trying to find this treasure that disappeared during the Civil War era. They have been using the tunnels from the Underground Railroad to gain access into the Bristow home. The treasure had to be there somewhere! Edward would continue to drive him crazy until he found it. Jake just wants Mariah to come back home, with no baby, so they can move far away from the police and the crazy little town of Etherton. He wants to start looking for her too. She couldn't have gone too far to get away from him.
Their lives will all intertwine as history starts revealing it's secrets and things become more and more clear. I could not put this book down. It had me captivated. I love history and mysteries, so here you have a bit of both! This was my first Melanie Dobson novel and I LOVED IT!
“The Bristow Mansion has guarded its secrets for generations. Until now . . .”
This statement from the cover of "Refuge on Crescent Hill" defines the novel perfectly! As a minor character attempts to solve an old family mystery, others stumble upon a mystery of their own. Perhaps deep secrets from the past can save Camden Bristow’s future.
As the story opens, Camden is without a job or a home. In desperation, she returns to the only home she’s ever known—her grandmother’s house, Bristow Mansion. Sadly, she just misses her grandmother’s memorial service by only a few days. Yet she quickly learns that her grandmother, in spite of Camden’s neglect, has left everything to her.
The town wants the property, though, and is determined to get it through unethical means. With new acquaintance Alex Yates’s help, Camden must find a way to save her childhood home and carry on her grandmother’s legacy.
"Refuge on Crescent Hill" by Melanie Dobson is a contemporary novel with an historical mystery. The main characters don’t even realize they are solving a mystery; they are just trying to solve a problem. Yet they uncover secrets as they go and stumble upon something bigger than they ever expected. I loved the way this story unfolded! I’m happy to recommend this book, and thank Kregel Publications for sending a complimentary copy for my review.
I wasn't sure I'd enjoy reading this at first. When I receive "romance" novels to review, I usually run to my wife, Ann, for her help. Yet she read this book and told me I would have to read it also. I will confess, it took a bit to get into the book; I had some difficulty keeping characters straight, kept getting the plot confused. Then I realized it was because I was tired and had too many irons in the fire to read this well. So, I set it down and waited. When I picked this book up again, I was hooked, just a few dozen pages in and didn't put it down until I was finished later that evening.
Dobson's characters felt very real: from Camden's confusion at all life seemed to have thrown at her in a few short days, to Alex's attempts to run & hide from tragic events that changed everything for him, to the bumbling "villain" Jake and his greedy, power-hungry grandfather, Edward. I thoroughly enjoyed each description of each person.
The plot will grip you and not let you go, all of it revolving around the mansion on Crescent Hill and it's secrets and treasure and the history that simply begged to be told. While I don't regularly enjoy romance novels, that portion of the book almost seemed to take second place, in my opinion. I did, however, greatly enjoy the way Dobson painted some of the main character's faith in God. For Camden and Alex, the two prime characters, God continues to make in-roads into their lives, weaving people and circumstances to draw them ever closer to Himself.
I wasn't sure what to think of this book when I first picked it up. The copy on the back cover intrigued me, but it started a little slow for me. However, once I got into it, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Camden is alone, out of work, behind on her bills, and can't imagine things turning around anytime soon. She decides to go to the last place she remembers being truly happy - her grandmother's home, Crescent Hill. Upon arriving, she learns that her grandmother has died but left her the house on the verge of being condemned, tons of necessary repairs, and some long-time family mysteries.
This is an incredible story about faith, friendship, belonging, and trusting in God. Dobson introduces an amazing cast of characters - some you'll fall in love with, others will drive you crazy. By the end I found myself not wanting the book to be over. Any chance there will be a sequel?!
Dobson creates a story that is part mystery, part romance. She also does a great job bringing history into a contemporary fiction novel. I actually think lovers of both contemporary fiction and historical fiction will be quite satisfied with this book.
I loved how Dobson tells the story - from multiple points of view. The bulk of the story is told from Camden's point of view, but we also get to hear from Alex, Stephanie, and Jake. At times, I wasn't sure how all of the stories were going to work together - or if they were! - but in the end, she pulled everything together and left me thinking, "WOW!"
Possible SPOILER: In the beginning there were a few allusions to ghosts, which made me nervous that this would turn out to be a "Christian ghost story." However, fear not (if that sort of story offends you), it is not a ghost story.
Great story, Melanie! You made a fan out of me!
I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my fair and honest
Camden Bristow had been a successful photographer based out of New York City. Her images of international events had yielded many magazine sales and given a good lifestyle, until six months ago. While a magazine had bought and used the photos from her last trip to Indonesia, she had yet to be paid. And now the magazine had gone bankrupt. Jobs had dried up and Camden was running out of money. Forced out of her apartment, she decides to head to Ohio, to Grandma Rosalie. Growing up, Camden had spent summers at Crescent Hill, the Bristow family mansion. She had roamed the hill and watched her grandmother work glass. While she hadn't seen her grandmother in years, they had written to each other. When Camden arrives in Etherton, she is shocked to find that her grandmother had passed away just a few days before. She has inherited the old run down house – and trouble. But her step sister is in town too and threatens to contest the will. Someone thinks there is a treasure in that house and is determined to find it, no matter the trouble it may cause. Camden hears noises in the house. Is someone else living in the house? The city mayor is not playing fair. The old mansion needs expensive repairs, repairs Camden could never afford. If the city condemned the property, they could get it without paying a cent. Then Camden finds the condemnation paper on the front door.
Stephanie Ellison-Carter was sweltering in the South Carolina sun, wondering how she was going to write her history term paper. Her professor wanted a paper on an unsolved mystery in the history of the U.S. She finally decides to visit her aunt and hear about the mystery in her own heritage. The Ellison family had been wealthy in colonial times. The Yankees stole some of the money. But there had been the jewels, heirloom pieces made in Britain, reward for a family loyal to the Crown in the 1700s. Worth millions, no one knew where the jewels were. Stephanie's aunt gives her a journal passed down for generations. Miriam Ellison recorded news of their own Carolina plantation slaves in the 1850s. A descendent of Miriam's maid claims the maid's husband stole the jewels and headed north on the underground railroad, heading for a place known as Crescent Hill. She decides to follow the mystery and heads to Ohio.
This is a satisfying Christian mystery and romance. One learns a bit about the Underground Railroad while reading a quickly developed plot. The romance is nicely done and the Christianity of the characters is just right.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Family, circumstances--life--have stacked the deck against penniless, jobless Camden Bristow. In an act of preservation, Camden retreats to her one refuge, the home of Grandmother Rosalie, who nurtured and loved her...too many miles and too few smiles ago.
The first night Camden arrives at the Etherton, Ohio, manse, it squeaks and crashes and rumbles and tumbles her back to Rosalie's bedtime stories of secret passageways and runaway slaves. Local police pooh-pooh her worries, as do unsavory men who want to own the lovely old Victorian...regardless of the cost.
When local politician Alex Yates offers his helping hand, can Camden entrust him...and God...with her future?
Every new Dobson book has me shaking my head, wondering what this woman will next tackle. With deft yet descriptive prose, Dobson bleeds onto the page, apparently willing to tackle any angst in a quest to make Christian fiction matter.
Spread the word about Melanie Dobson and her remarkable work...today!
After returning from a photo shoot in Indonesia, Camden Bristow finds herself without a job, and in debt. Fount magazine has gone bankrupt due to the economy and everyone has disappeared along with her paycheck. With her savings gone and and no other job in the future, Camden decides to make a trip to visit her beloved grandma, Rosalie. Upon arriving in Ohio, Camden learns her grandmother has recently passed away and left her home, Crescent Hill, to her. Crescent Hill her grandmother's home has always been the only "real" home in Camden's life. While dealing with the loss of her grandmother, Crescent Hill suddenly becomes insecure and unsafe. Not knowning whom she can trust, Camden is thrown into the unknown, and soon discovers the many secrets of Crescent Hill and the Bristow family. Camden's life will change forever and she is forced to re-evaluate and learn how to better trust in God. "Refuge on Crescent Hill" is more than just a title for this book. It harbors the truth and lessons in this wonderful novel. "Refuge on Crescent Hill" will make you not find a page you can stop on from the moment you begin reading, you will want to know more. It is mystery and suspense wrapped up in historical fiction. I loved the historical fiction that in in this story. The author does a wonderful job of bringing fourdiffrent stories into one, interweaving them until they blend at the end. Each character is well developed and brings something different to the story.
While the story is predictable at times, there are many moments that will surprise you and keep you wondering. The book was very hard to put down. I really enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, mystery, suspense, genealogy, or Christian fiction. Melanie did a great job of keeping my interest and not wanting it to end.
This book was sent to me by Kregel Publications for review.
Life turned on Camden Bristow and so she turned to the only place she knew to go for refuge her grandmother Rosalie. When Camden arrived on Crescent Hill the last thing she found was refuge. Grandma Rosalie had passed away and left her old, ailing mansion to Camden. Without Rosalie there is nothing left for Camden in Etherton, OH. However, she soon finds there is more to the house than meets the eye. As she tries to deal with the news of her grandmothers death and that she is now the owner of a 150 year old house, she realizes she is not the only occupant of the house. Are the old stories of ghosts haunting the house true?Refuge on Crescent Hill is the new release by Melanie Dobson. True to form, Melanie has taken past and present and wound them together in an intriguing story that will keep the reader glued to their seat until the last page is turned.As Camden searches for the truth of what has happened in her grandmothers life during her absence, she also seeks a buyer for the house. Her determination that the old house not be torn down creates problems. The house on the hill has been part of the Etherton history for 150 years and Camden wants to preserve that history. Alex Yates is more than happy to take the property off of Camdens hands, but will he be able to honor her wishes to keep the house intact?
Camden has run into an unexpected financial crunch and evaluates who she can turn to for help!Her grandmother & her have written letters to each other over the years. Etherton was home, so she decides to go to Crescent Hill and see her grandmother. Camden bangs on the door. Jenny, a school friend, sees Camden and stops to tell her that Rosalie has passed awayfuneral was Friday.Next surprise, Rosalie has left Crescent Hill to her. ProblemCamden has no money to repair and maintain the mansion. Camden has nowhere to live either, so she stays at the Rosalies house. She remembers the fun summers she spent in there and all the stories her Grandmother used to tell her about the mansion and the underground railroads. There were rumors of ghosts who lived on the third floor. She couldnt think about all that-too scary. She just needed to bask in her childhood memories and sleep. She had to make this work she had no where else to go.Alex, from the town counsel, and Jenny, try to help to find a solution to Camdens dilemma; in doing so they uncover mysteries involving Crescent Hill. Did the house really have secret tunnels? Camden discovers surprising family secrets that rock her world! She was going home to Crescent Hill for love and support.not all this.I enjoyed this fascinating story of Camdens personal journey, the history behind the house, the underground railroads, and how women used quilts they made for more than just keeping their family warm. Refuge on Crescent Hills story builds to a suspenseful, climatic ending that will keep you up late trying to figure out how all the pieces to this puzzle fit together. Im so glad I received a review copy of this book. Thanks Melanie for helping me escape into another one of your gripping, suspenseful, entertaining stories. I enjoyed seeing pictures of the real house Melanie used for this story on her website. This is one intriguing story.Nora St. LaurentACFW Book Club Coordinator
Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson is a romantic suspense novel with a labyrinthine mystery. Camden Bristow returns home to her beloved grandmother's home, Crescent Hill, after being away for nearly twenty years. Jobless, homeless, and about to max out her credit card, she just wants a safe place to go where she is loved. But her grandmother recently passed away, leaving the house and all its contents to Camden. Instead of this being a blessing, she has two offers on the house, plus it's being condemned by the city. Alex Yates has been trying to find a way to bring in revenue to the small town of Etherton and buying Crescent Hill and using the land could be just the ticket to save the town, but Camden doesn't want the house to be destroyed. Mix into this a mystery about missing jewelry and a rumor about a secret tunnel from the Underground Railroad, and Dobson has created a story that will keep readers turning the pages. I love the idea of the home always being a safe place, first for slaves, and then for abused women, and Dobson weaves this well into the story. It's an enjoyable story about a woman finding her home.
I began reading Refuge on Crescent Hill late on a Sunday afternoon. Eight hours later I blinked back sleep to devour just one more scene. Just one more page, I told myself.Refuge on Crescent Hill is stamped with Melanie Dobsons signature stylean intricate plot that twists and turns more Disneys Rock n Roller Coaster. Camden Bristow and Alex Yates converge on small town Ohio. One from New York; the other from the Carolinas. One to escape a crumbling career; the other corporate craziness. Both, however, seek refuge from past hurts in small town simplicity. Instead of simplicity, though, Camden and Alex step into a complex plot whose every twist leads to and proceeds from one sourcethe mansion on Crescent Hill. The mansion creaks with mystery and adventure that spins both Camden and Alex into discovering a deeper refuge than the one theyd gone looking for.Melanie Dobsons story is strong and her message even stronger. I highly recommend this book.