Heron Mill by KL Taylor-Lane
Heron Mill is the first book in KL Taylor-Lane's new Blackwell Brothers series. This book is all the sociopathic, horror-filled goodness that I've come to associate with this author, and I have a feeling the Blackwell family is going to be a new favorite of mine.
Grace has just turned 18 and has spent most of her young life in residential mental health treatment. Her new stepfather wants her to come live at their family home despite her mother's vehement objections. Grace is out of her element in her new world, unsure how to navigate without the "rules" she is used to following at the institution. She embraces her newfound freedom, however, spending her first full day at her new house lost in the woods. It is here she first encounters Hunter, the middle son of the five Blackwell sons, her stepbrother.
Hunter is an enigma, still living at home with his father. He keeps to himself in the basement area of the house, coming out generally only to take care of his horses and go on the occasional job for his father's business. Hunter seems to be merely existing until he meets Grace and discovers what it means to be utterly infatuated with another person.
This book reads like an old gothic romance complete with the overwhelmingly vast mansion set in the middle of nowhere in deary England. Grace and Hunter's adventures outside are described in beautiful prose, a significant contrast to the darker elements that bring the horror to life. As their relationship progresses, Hunter starts to fear their unusually rough way of showing their affection will lead to irreversible consequences, an interesting element that lends some soul to this unique love story. Seeing these two find a happy ending in their own way is a treat. I am looking forward to what else KL has in store for the Blackwell brothers.
Character development: 5/5
Dark elements: 5/5
Steamy scenes: 5/5
Overall storyline: 5/5
Triggers: yes, indeed - abuse, breath/blood play, voyeurism, mutilation of a corpse, murder