Publication date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance
A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.
When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness—one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.
Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…
As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?
Perched on the balls of my feet, I wriggled my skirt farther down my thighs and mentally scolded myself for not dressing for this covert operation. “Can you hear anything?”
Squatted beside me, Aubrey blew a stray lock of hair—which had slipped free from her messy bun—out of her face. “Nothing over the flapping wings of my last shred of dignity fluttering away.”
“Stop complaining.” Brushing mulch from my palms, I peeked over the three-foot shrub in hopes of getting a glimpse of Matthew and Greta. Lurking around the castle made it easy to listen in on them undetected … until they wandered into the hedge maze. Our only logical plan—and I’m playing it fast and loose on the use of that word—was to follow them in and crouch out of sight. “As my best friend, you are required to love me and commit senseless acts alongside me in support of my lunacy. It was in the fine print of our friendship clause.”
Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, Aubrey tried to find a more comfortable way to maintain her hunkered posture. “I’m kneeling in foliage and lack the know-how to pick poison ivy out of a lineup of daisies. I think we need to take a second to appreciate the level of love actually happening here.”
“Shh!” I stabbed my finger to her lips to hush her, only to have her swat my hand away. “They’re coming this way! Go! Around that bend! Go-go-go-go!”
“Working the quads, and the bum,” Aubrey quietly coached herself, leading us in a duck-waddle to a more concealed spot. “You know, if they had one of those tall mazes like in The Shining we could stroll around at a leisurely pace. What we have here is a lack of proper shrubbery.”
“Talk less and shuffle faster!” I goaded in an urgent hiss, Mateo’s voice swelling behind me.
Exactly what he was saying couldn’t be deciphered over the crunches of twigs and bark under our hurried steps. Toddling around the corner, I slammed into Aubrey’s back when she came to an abrupt stop.
Rocking back and forth, she turned to face me, alarm stitching her eyebrows tight to her hairline. “It’s a dead-end!”
“What do you mean dead-end? Find a way out!”
“I don’t think you’re understanding the concept of a dead-end. There is no way out.”
Shoving my way around her, I wobbled on cramping legs to investigate for myself. I pressed my palms into the manicured greenery, ignoring the branches scratching against my skin in my desperate search for a hidden passage. “Why would they block the exit?”
“Because it’s a maze?” Aubrey offered, glancing over her shoulder at the lighthearted lilt of Greta’s laughter riding in on a breeze.
Spinning around as fast as I could totter, I grabbed her hand in both of mine and squeezed hard enough to make her wince. “They can’t find us here! I am not meeting the possible future Mrs. Greta Cruz Queen of the World after popping out of a bush like a friggin’ jack-in-the-box!”
Aubrey pressed her lips into a thin line, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle. “There’s a chance you’re overreacting.”
“Wh-what? I-I—” I stammered in full huff.
“Well said,” Aubrey replied with a sympathetic nod, keeping her tone calm and soothing. “If I may offer a counter point? These hedges are literally the height of a toddler. I could stand up, and find us a way out.”
“No!” Pulling her hand down to the ground, I rooted it there with me. “They can’t find us here! Please, don’t let them find us!”
“I think you’re confusing me with your other best friend that can harness the power of invisibility.”
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013
Readers' Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.
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