Do Not Disturb
Claire Douglas
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Buy *Do Not Disturb* by Claire Douglas online

Do Not Disturb
Claire Douglas
400 pages
November 2020
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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After a traumatic event at her London home, Kirsten Woodhouse, her husband, Adrian, two young daughters and Kirsty's mother, the family pulls up stakes and moves to Wales. In a drastic life change, the family purchases a multi-storied home in the Breton Beacons as a bed-and-breakfast enterprise. With Kirsty's mother's financial assistance, they begin the arduous task of remodeling, preparing their hopeful new venture for a grand opening. No mention is made of the incident that provoked the move.

The change from London to Wales is drastic for Evie, age six, and 11-year-old Amelia. City life is exchanged for a secluded village atmosphere, neighborhood friends all left behind. And while the inside and outside of the house are painstakingly redone, the family quarters separated from the cozy, quiet guest rooms, Kirsty begins to hear stories about the building's past. Ominous, scary tales. The once exciting family drama takes on a gothic cast, a dark history lurking in the shadows of the newly refurbished rooms.

Barely ready for the opening and arrival of the first guests, the adults are purposefully supportive of one another, Kirsty avoiding the conflicts that have plagued her relationship with her mother for years. She is determined to build a successful new business and keep her family happy in spite of any misgivings. The first guests arrive, everything working according to plan.

The only glitch is the arrival of an unexpected guest, a woman in distress. Kirsty's mother has invited Selena, an old childhood friend from Kirsty's childhood, and her young daughter, Ruby, who is unwell. Selena was a favorite, almost another daughter and the cause for jealousy. There is no question of turning the still-beautiful Selena away, especially with an ailing child. The B&B will be a respite for them awhile.

As events unfold, a pall settles over both family and guests, Kirsten revealing her difficult relationship with Selena, their competition for a mother's affection transferred to their adult lives. Tensions rising since Selena's arrival, the old conflicts between Kirsten and her mother return, strained relations between both family and guests increasing Kirsty's anxieties. Then tragedy strikes.

The small family adventure in a new country becomes a gothic nightmare. Skeletons fly out of closets, long-simmering enmity surfaces amid a vague sense of danger and a growing assortment of characters, not all of them welcome. Toss in a shabby old doll Evie finds, sleeps with and refuses to relinquish, a bouquet of black roses left on the front steps of the B&B, a man hiding on the property threatening Kirsty's life, and the eventual revelation of ugly secrets.

Author Douglas packs up her small London cast of characters and delivers them to the beautiful if somewhat forbidding Wales location, reimagining a different life, a new beginning, a reassembling of hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, the site is haunted by its own sad history, the new residents' relationships compounded by a nasty family rivalry, too many secrets and some bad intentions. Add a split second of fate - an accidental death. Or was it?

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2021

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