Title: Eastover Treasures
Author: Dawn Brotherton
Publisher: Blue Dragon Publishing, LLC
Publication date: June 22, 2021
One Sentence Summary: When Aury and her fellow quilters take shelter in an abandoned manor during a storm, they discover a treasure hunt dating back to the Civil War that might actually lead to real treasure.
Eastover Treasures is definitely not your standard sort of mystery. For one, there’s no crime that needs to be solved. For another, since there’s no crime, there’s no bad guy and, thus, no real tension or thriller-like experience. It’s not quite a cozy, either, but I think that’s part of it’s charm. This is, pure and simple, a treasure hunt. There are definitely stakes at play, but the following of clues and puzzling each one out as well as untangling the mystery of the first owners, what happened to them, and how they’re related to the present owner were at the forefront. This is perfect for readers wanting to dip their toe into mysteries and for those who want a fun story without all the drama and tension.
An avid quilter, Aury arranges a retreat for herself and her fellow quilters at the Eastover Retreat Center. Unfortunately, partway through their week-long retreat, a storm heads their way, stranding those who didn’t leave early. With trees falling into the center, they decide to take shelter in the boarded up manor on the estate, only to uncover a diary kept by the first woman of the manor and the treasure hunt she sent her children on to keep them occupied during the days of the Civil War.
They follow the first clue, which leads them to another. And then another. When the storm clears and the women are able to get home, Aury and the owner, Scott, take up the hunt. At the same time, Scott is busy tallying up the damage and finding out if he’ll even be able to keep the family property. The treasure, if it’s exists, would go a long way to help.
Set in Virginia along the James River, Eastover Treasures proved to be a surprisingly fun and easy read twining history and the present day to create a treasure hunt. It seemed a little outlandish to think a treasure hidden during the Civil War might still be hidden on a property that had been passed down through the generations, but, that aside, it was fun to follow the clues with Aury and Scott.
I really enjoyed exploring the property and it’s history. It seemed a lot of it had been overgrown, which created some interesting challenges for the treasure hunters, but I loved the flipping back and forth in time, getting to see how the first owners built the manor and gardens and rest of the grounds and how the passage of time affected all of it. It felt both serene and bursting at the seams with history.
There are several flashes back to the Civil War years, though I wish there had been more and they had been more fleshed out and longer. While I appreciated that they touched on what life had been like during that time and were full of lifelike hardships and fear, sometimes they felt a little irrelevant, like they were more focused on the feelings of the family and not on how the past really gave rise to the treasure hunt. Overall, I wish they had been more detailed, longer, and more focused on bridging past and present.
The genealogy was fun to follow. It was a sort of treasure hunt on it’s own, with Aury, Scott, and Aury’s grandmother tracing back from Scott and forward from Mary Townsend, the first mistress of Eastover Manor. When that piece of the story started heating up, the flashes to the past felt more relevant. It was also just a lot of fun to learn the history of a family and what happened to them.
The treasure hunt, though, was first and foremost, though it was lovely to see how the genealogy tied into it. There were so many clues that really were puzzles for Aury and Scott, and me, so I loved getting to read about how they solved them and all the footwork it required to figure out what the property had been like generations before, as well as what some of the clues could possibly have been referencing. As I mentioned, there’s no villain, no real tension, but always wondering if this clue might be the one to lead them to any treasure gave it a shadow of tension. There were times when I thought some shadowy figure would pop out and drop a surprise on them, but Eastover Treasures really is, at it’s heart, a treasure hunt.
Aury and Scott could not have been better treasure hunting partners. They’re not exactly young, but I loved the zest they had for following the clues, for discovering more about the property and Scott’s family. They worked brilliantly together and seemed to be having such a good time working together. The romance is very light and predictable, but very natural and realistic.
I do wish there had been more quilting going on, more about how quilting is done, but the focus is on the hunt and the quilting retreat was a good excuse. It did play a nice role in the story, but was, overall, smaller than I expected. Initially, I wasn’t sure who was going to be taking part, so was worried I’d have to keep track of over a dozen ladies who blurred together in the first few pages, so I was really delighted by how the whole story unfolded, even if it was quite different from how I expected.
Eastover Treasures isn’t your traditional kind of mystery, cozy or otherwise. Since it doesn’t involve an actual crime, I was able to just focus on the treasure hunt and the history, which worked really well together. This is a delightful, quick, easy read that’s more about following clues and history to help a family.
How many cups of tea will you need?
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Thank you to Dawn Brotherton for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.