A Conversation with Emily Leland from After the Shadows by Amanda Cabot


A brighter future awaits—if she can escape the shadows of the past 

Emily Leland sheds no tears when her abusive husband is killed in a bar fight, but what awaits her back home in Sweetwater Crossing is far from the welcome and comfort she expected. First she discovers her father has died under mysterious circumstances. Then the house where the handsome new schoolteacher, Craig Ferguson, and his son are supposed to board burns, leaving them homeless. When Emily proposes turning the family home into a boardinghouse, her sister is so incensed that she leaves town.

Alone and broke, her family name sullied by controversy, Emily is determined to solve the mystery of her father’s death—and to aid Craig, despite her fears of men. The widowed schoolmaster proves to be a devoted father, an innovative teacher, and an unexpected ally. As they work to uncover the truth, they just may find the key to unlock a future neither could have imagined.

Welcome to NovelPASTimes. For those who haven’t met you, please introduce yourself.

I’m Emily Vaughn. No, that’s not right. I’m Emily Leland now.

That’s a common mistake for newlyweds. Is Leland your married name?

Yes. I was married for over a year, but fortunately I’m a widow now.

Fortunately? Most women wouldn’t find being widowed fortunate.

That’s because they weren’t married to George Leland. Marrying him was the biggest mistake of my life. If you don’t mind, I’d rather not talk about him.

Certainly. Let’s discuss something more pleasant. Sweetwater Crossing seems like a nice town.

I love it. Oh, we have our share of problems, but I’m convinced it’s the most beautiful town in the Hill Country, maybe in all of Texas.

I couldn’t help noticing that one of the houses on Creek Road appears out of place here.

You’re not the first person to say that. That’s my home, Finley House. There’s a long story about it and why it’s as large and elaborate as it is. The abbreviated version is that Clive Finley, a man from Alabama, built it for his fiancée shortly before the War Between the States. Sadly, he died before he could bring her here. He asked my father to take care of the house until he returned from the war, which is why my family has lived there ever since. And, yes, it’s much bigger than we need and the taxes have taken much of my father’s stipend as the town’s minister, but my sisters and I consider ourselves fortunate to live there.

Sisters, as in plural. I always wished I had at least one. Tell me about yours.

I’m the oldest of the three of us, and no matter what my sisters claim, I’m not bossy. Not very often, anyway. It’s just that growing up, they sometimes needed guidance. But you asked about the others. Joanna – she’s the one in the middle – can make even an out of tune piano sound good. Right now she’s in Europe studying to be a concert pianist. Louisa hates being called the baby of the family, even though she is. She can’t bear to see anyone in pain. That’s why she plans to be a doctor.

What wonderful aspirations. What is yours?

I thought I was going to be a good wife and mother like my own mother, but …

Oh, Emily, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry. I only have one more question. I saw a fresh grave outside the cemetery. Who’s buried there?

I’ll try to say this without shedding too many tears. That’s my father’s grave. His death was considered scandalous, so he wasn’t allowed to be buried in consecrated ground, but don’t believe the stories you may hear. My father did not take his own life. I’m as certain of that as I am that the sun sets in the west, and if it’s the last thing I do, I will discover who murdered him.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than forty books and a variety of novellas. Her books have been honored with a starred review from Publishers Weekly and have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. 

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