If there’s one thing Maddie knows well, it’s a life of excess. Doted on by her wealthy father and grandfather, there’s nothing she’s ever wanted for in life.
But her beloved grandpa’s health is failing, and that means everything she knows and loves is about to be thrown off course. In the midst of fighting her growing feelings for a boy who works there, she uncovers a dark secret about her stepmother…one that threatens to unravel the entire family.
“Gathering Storm” by Toni House was not what this reader expected. Written in a very simple, straight-forward style, “Gathering Storm” is the first installment in the Halcyon Saga, which is about the travails of an elite family at a crossroads:
The aging patriarch has taken ill just as his spirited grand-daughter is graduating from high school and poised to head off into her future -- while a mysterious entity is making moves to take over the family firm. “Gathering Storm” reads largely like a set up for one of the primetime soap operas from the 1980s.
Leading the Halcyon soap cast is the grandfather who built the family business from the ground up – turning it into a multi-billion dollar empire. But he is old and sick, and none of the board has faith in JT, the son-in-law who has assumed the reigns and is attempting to move the company into new ways of doing business.
Becca is JTs 2nd wife -- the impossibly evil, money-grubber whose sole occupation is conniving and getting her hair and nails done.
And then there is Maddy – the apple of her grandpa’s eye. She is the spoiled little rich girl with the prerequisite erratic flashes of good character and wisdom.
Let’s not forget the hunky and noble hired help to challenge Maddy’s spoiled-rotteness and serve as the overall foil to the various shallow, pretentious and entitled young men within her social circle.
Like any mystery, “Gathering Storm” has a somewhat of a cliff-hanger ending that takes the story from annoying to downright sinister in its last few pages -- as Maddy is forced into a dangerous situation with serious consequences (rape is implied).
The surprising ending serves to catapult what had been a formulaic predictable tale into something that could actually be a more serious story dealing with America’s rape culture. Perhaps this is fleshed out in the later installments, but the almost soap-opera aspect of most of the book serves to detract from its potential.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Malaika