Review: June by Miranda Beverly Whittemore + Giveaway

Review: June by Miranda Beverly Whittemore + GiveawayJune by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: family saga, historical fiction
Pages: 400
Published by Crown on May 31st 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet comes a novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake made sixty years ago that threatens to change a modern family forever. 
Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?
Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal.
As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

My Review:

June is two stories that run kind of in parallel, but finally come together at the end. The two stories themselves are fascinating, but how much the reader will enjoy this story may come down to how you end up feeling about the house having, and providing, dreams to its inhabitants.

In 2015 Cassie Danvers inherits the shambling, decaying mansion of Two Oaks in small-town Ohio from her late grandmother, June. When Cassie holes herself up in the crumbling pile, she is suffering from a deep depression and a truckload of survivor’s guilt.

Cassie’s grandmother raised her after her parents were killed in an alcohol-fueled automobile accident when Cassie was 8. The last time Cassie and her grandmother spoke was at Cassie’s exhibition of her photographic recreation of that accident. June was incensed at the wanton display of her life’s greatest tragedy. Cancer took her before enough time passed to heal both their wounds.

Into Cassie’s grief-stricken wallow, comes Hollywood actress Tate Montgomery and her entourage. Tate is Hollywood royalty, her parents, Jack Montgomery and Diane DeSoto, were big Golden Age stars, who, once upon a time, filmed a movie in Cassie and June’s tiny little town of St. Jude. Jack has just died and left his entire considerable fortune to Cassie – but no one knows why.

As the story unfolds, and as Cassie, Tate and her assistants Nick and Hank investigate that long-ago summer, truths are revealed that change the lives of all involved. And some history repeats itself, just a tiny bit.

But when the revelations poke every bit as big a hole in both Cassie’s and Tate’s identities as the giant hole that opens in the mansion’s roof, they both have to go back and figure out who they really are, and what they really feel about the world that has so suddenly changed.

And Cassie has to decide whether she loves Nick enough to forgive him for choosing his job over his life. And hers.

Escape Rating B: The two stories themselves are absorbing. In 1955 we see June and her friend best friend Lindie as the entire town is captivated by the stars that come to their little town. Because the perspective is mostly Lindie’s we also feel her heartache. Lindie, who is 14 when this story opens, loves her friend June, even it she isn’t ready to acknowledge exactly what she feels or what that means about her and her future. June is 18, and has no clue. She expects to live a conventional small town life, marrying the man who has been chosen for her and making her own kind of happiness.

Instead, the events surrounding the movie shoot change both their lives forever. Whether for the better or the worse is something that the reader has to judge for themselves. But Cassie’s discovery of the events of that long-ago summer change her life in 2015.

In the present, Cassie, Tate and Tate’s half sister Esmeralda become caught up in the hunt for the truth about that long-lost summer. It is only after the facts are finally revealed and the Hollywood invasion is long gone that Cassie discovers that the truth has been living across the street from her all along.

As I read June, it also felt a bit reminiscent of Nora Roberts’ Tribute. Parts of the setup are similar – granddaughter inherits house from grandmother, discovers that grandmother’s past with the movie business was different and more dangerous than she was ever told. The difference is that the past in June wants to be revealed, and the past in Tribute contains evil that still wants to be concealed.

Back to June – I found the events in the past more compelling reading than the present. But it’s Lindie’s story at the end that is really sticking with me. What I’m still having a difficult time coming to terms with is the whole thing about the house dreaming and revealing the truth of the past to Cassie through dreams as a plot device in what is otherwise a fairly straightforward – but fascinating – family saga.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I am giving away a copy of June to one lucky (US/Canada) commenter on this post:

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15 thoughts on “Review: June by Miranda Beverly Whittemore + Giveaway

    1. I remember those. The Jakes series was so overwrought and so compelling at the same time. And it was so much fun to tell people I was reading “The Bastard”!

  1. No doubt about it: CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese, and if you haven’t read it, you should. It grabbed me from page 1 and never let go even though it is a very long book. And, in spite of its length, when the book ended, it seemed too short.

  2. I’m not sure if I read any family saga type books, lol nothing is coming to mind. June sounds great and I would enjoy reading it. Thank you

  3. I’ll go with Rosamund Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, but it’s terrible to try to narrow it to just one since I devoured so many good ones in my younger days–Fast, Jakes, Tan, Howatch, Binchy, McCullough, etc–ah, fond memories.

  4. I think historical fiction series such as Gregory’s The Tudor Court covering several of Henry VIII’s queens as well as novels set during the Elizabethan era & The War of the Roses series beginning with White Queen count as family sagas, no? Truth is stranger than fiction, so historical fiction covering actual families has a definite edge here, IMHO.

    I really enjoyed this author’s last novel and would love to read her work again; thanks for this opportunity.

    Best, Kara S

  5. J.A. Jance is a mystery writer whose books are 70% about her family.
    I really enjoy her writing.

  6. Wow, there are so many. Not really family, but interconnected, I’d say the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr.

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