under her roofRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Gillian lost her father less than a year ago, and her sister Sloan is trying to sell off his home and assets without consulting Gillian. Sloan refuses to answer Gillian’s calls or texts, so Gillian is taking matters into her own hands and heading to their father’s house where Sloan is hosting a wine auction, selling off their dad’s collection. Gillian’s plan is to get in, talk to Sloan, and get out. However, with a storm approaching, she is stuck there for the night, as the house is on a remote lake-side property and difficult to access. As if the situation isn’t bad enough, it turns out Gillian’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda, is also at the auction. The pair broke up six years ago, but Gillian still hasn’t been able to shut off her feelings for Amanda. But Amanda was always so secretive, worked so much, and didn’t share enough of her life with Gillian and it just wasn’t working out. Still, seeing Amanda again definitely reminds Gillian of all the ways they worked together.

When the storm hits, taking out the power and bringing down a tree on part of the house, the overnight guests are all shaken up. But when one of the attendees shows up dead on the floor, bleeding from the head, the situation becomes even more dire. Gillian is overwhelmed and not sure how to proceed, but Amanda is quickly able to take the lead. When Amanda reveals to Gillian that she is not just a banker, but also works as a spy for the government dealing with financial crimes, so much makes sense about Amanda’s secretive nature. But the things that didn’t work between the women before are unchanged, and all Gillian wants to do is get through the night and back to the mainland.

However, when they find a second body, it is clear that the danger is not over. With the guests all trapped in the house overnight — and a killer apparently among them — Gillian and Amanda now must figure out who is behind the murders and why. And if they are lucky, they may just find a way to rekindle the connection with each other that they lost.

Under Her Roof is a really engaging locked-room mystery and I found myself caught up in it right from the start. The book is part of the Accidentally Undercover multi-author collection, but the stories are standalones. Gillian is our POV character and she has such a great voice to navigate us through the story. She arrives at her father’s house with the goal of confronting her sister over the fact that Sloan is selling their dad’s home and belongings without Gillian’s permission. Unfortunately, the weather means Gillian is stuck there, only to find her ex-girlfriend trapped with them as well. Gillian works so nicely as a reader stand-in during the mystery, as she is just an everyday person getting caught up in all this madness. I loved that Gillian doesn’t suddenly become a crack detective on the case. She is often out of her element, confused about what is going on or what to do. She misses things and she doesn’t always put the pieces together right away. Basically, she feels like a real person who is caught up in this all and in over her head. To balance things out, we have Amanda, who we learn is not just a banker, but also a government spy. So Amanda is the one who is able to take the lead on the investigation and steer things along, helping everyone get through the night.

I love a locked-room mystery and this one is nicely done. There are a number of potential suspects and I found the case twisty enough to keep me guessing, even with a limited pool of people involved. Temple also makes great use of the setting, as the house is located in a remote, wooded area on a lake. Between the storm wreaking havoc, and the naturally isolated location, plus the layout of the house, it makes for lots of intrigue and a bit of eeriness. My only note here is that group seems surprisingly unconcerned that they all are trapped with a murderer. The first victim is found lying face down in a pool of blood with a massive head wound. It is clear that this is not an accidental death. But then later, Amanda comments that “No one else seems to suspect anything,” noting that the rest of the guests don’t seem to realize it was a murder. So I’m not really clear on what they all think is happening here, but that part just didn’t fully make sense to me.

Along with the mystery, this is a lovers-reunited story as Gillian and Amanda find their way back together. It is clear right away that Gillian still has feelings for Amanda, but we get a good sense of why it wasn’t working between them. Seeing Amanda in her element investigating the murder both provides a better understanding to Gillian, but also reinforces why things can’t work for them long term with so much of Amanda’s life needing to be kept from Gillian by necessity. The chemistry and connection between the women comes through clearly and, as they work together throughout the night, it gives them a chance to realize just how well they fit.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There is just a great energy to Temple’s writing and Gillian is a great POV character to lead us through the story. If you enjoy mystery/suspense stories, particularly locked-room style, this one is definitely recommended.

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