A mystery set in wine country pitting financial exec Brynn Bancroft against a
determined stalker, a troubled love interest, and career clashes.
Brynn Bancroft learns that a former employee who beat her nearly to death
has returned to stalk her and her friend, Jillian Hillcrest, also a former victim.
Recently divorced, Brynn turns to a new love interest only to encounter additional unwelcome issues. Meanwhile, short-timer Brynn, who has resigned from her Silicon Valley company, becomes bored fulfilling her remaining responsibilities there. She begins to prefer supporting the launch of her ex-husband’s new hilltop winery while waiting to move to her next position. Between her stalker and her new love interest, Brynn faces a series of life-changing events.
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About Brynn Bancroft
Brynn Bancroft evolved from the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries where she served as Jillian’s manager while Chief Financial Officer of Harmonia Therapeutics in Silicon Valley. A shapely blonde with a MENSA IQ, she had an affair with the CEO of the company. Unfortunately for Brynn, the CEO’s wife figured out that the two were involved and asked Brynn to leave the company, which she agreed to do. In the meantime, her husband, Liam—not unfamiliar with extramarital affairs himself but also understanding that Brynn grew up in an abusive household- grew tired of waiting for Brynn to commit to their relationship and asked for a divorce. At the same time, he solicited her assistance in developing his new winery in Sonoma County, Calif. Much like Jillian–who does appear in the Brynn Bancroft mysteries–Brynn, too, attracts mystery and murders as she grows to enjoy life at her ex-husband’s Hilltop Sunset Winery.
This is the second book of Joyce T. Strand’s that I’ve read. She writes a good mystery with a lot of suspense and a few twists.
It was difficult for me to engage with the main character, Brynn. At first I thought it was because both she and Liam had multiple affairs during their marriage and it didn’t seem to bother her. I eventually realized, though, that it was because Brynn didn’t feel any emotions as was pointed out by Liam. As time went on, she was finally starting to “feel” and as she did, it was easier to empathize with her.
I found the relationship between Brynn and her ex, Liam, interesting. It was obvious that they loved each other but had had marital problems mainly because of Brynn’s inability to express her emotions. Since she’s getting better at that, maybe they’ll get back together in a future book like her friend, Jillian and her ex, Chad.
Hilltop Sunset is a good novel and anyone who likes suspense will enjoy it. If you like series, I suggest reading the Jillian Hillcrest first, which Brynn appears in.
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About the Author
Joyce Strand, much like her fictional character Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing articles and press releases and delivering presentations to publicize her companies.
Joyce has been a mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy stories as a teen-ager. She has always enjoyed the challenge of following clues to solve a mystery before it is revealed. Therefore Joyce relished the transition from writing press releases to writing fiction.
Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. She lives with her two cats in Southern California near San Diego.
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