ImWithPattz's Rec of the Week: 8/29/11

September 03, 2011

The Homestead by esmegrace

Rating: M
Genre: Romance/Supernatural
Characters: Edward/Bella

Summary: Bella is a chef hired at an exclusive resort. She must deal with an overzealous boss, an enthusiastic golf pro, and a mysterious guest who appears only in the library late at night...

Being a die-hard Ghost Hunters fan, I had been looking for a good “ghostly” fan fiction to addict myself to. The Homestead by EsmeGrace has it all – A mystery, a love story, some ghosts and a real backdrop which is the Homestead hotel in Virginia. About halfway through the story, I found myself going back and forth between the hotel website and her fic so I could picture some of the settings she describes.

The Homestead begins with a prologue where the reader meets James in 1901. He is the General Manager of the hotel. I won’t spoil anything else but suffice to say, the prologue managed to be creepy right from the start.

In the next chapter, we meet Bella Swan – winner of the Top Chef competition on the Food network. She has just left her job in NYC as a sous-chef at the famous Babbo to take a job at the mysterious Homestead hotel in Virginia.

I had only been a sous--chef at Babbo for a few months before Edward Cullen called out of the blue to offer me the job of head chef at his famous resort. Kind of strange, but he had seen a TV spot on the Food Network about the competition I had won as a culinary school graduate. He'd said on the phone, he just felt I was "right" for the position and just what he'd been "looking for." I didn't know what that meant. I'd still jumped at the chance. Of course, this was my big break. If I ever expected to be mentioned in the same breath as Paula Deen, Giada, and Cat Cora, I had to start somewhere. 

Bella’s first meeting with the Cullens – “James” and Victoria, manages to leave her with an alarming sense of dread. EsmeGrace has done a wonderful job describing them to the reader –

"Ms. Swan, I presume. Welcome, welcome, please come in and have a seat." He took a step back and waved me in. He was dressed in a mint green golf shirt with the Lower Cascades logo, khaki pants, and a braided leather belt. He looked very much the southern preppy gentleman on holiday. I stepped over the threshold and into his office. The air seemed to chill as I entered. The room was decked out like a turn of the century gentleman's smoking room with lots of dark wood, heavy fabrics, thick oriental carpets. I moved toward a set of lovely dark green carved chairs as he motioned with his hand for me to sit. There was a fireplace with a cheerful fire sparking and cracking quietly. I suddenly realized that we weren't alone when a figure stood from one of the chairs by the fire. She had been hidden by the tall back. I stared at her rudely. 

"My, my, you are the perfect little thing, aren't you?" she said beginning to shift toward me. Mr. Cullen was still standing by the door, which he had apparently just closed behind us. I felt a flash of panic, like I was trapped. I dismissed it quickly, and turned back to the formidable women coming at me. 

I knew she had to be in her 80s, but her hair was a shocking shade of red, cut in a stylish, softly waving bob. As I examined her coloring, I realized that the color didn't look out of place or fake. If I had to guess, I would say she was trying to capture her natural color, what had once been before time had leeched away the color, leaving her with a dim gray. I didn't know many women her age who continued to bother with hair color. I also noticed that she was wearing slightly too much make-up and that her skin was too smooth, clearly she had had work done. However, the overall effect was not pathetic as it might be on another woman. This lady stood straight in 3 inch heels, a fitted pencil skirt, and décolletage blouse. I decided she frightened me. Mr. Cullen cleared his throat.

"Welcome to the Homestead, Ms. Swan. We are delighted to have you here and look forward to great things from you. I am James Cullen, and this is my wife, Victoria." Here, he nodded toward the woman who was now directly in front of me. She put her hand out to touch my face, like she was inspecting a sculpture or a painting. It felt cold and lifeless. If his eyes had alarmed me before, they were nothing to what I saw when I looked into hers. They were bottomless, empty. I was reminded of a cat, not a house cat but a dangerous jungle cat. She smiled slightly while still examining me, and I added canary-eating to my list of cat adjectives. I took a step back from her; I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. A burst of wind shook the windows, and smoke from the fire subtly wafted into the room, blurring my vision. She smiled delightedly.

Bella’s first instinct is that maybe she had made a mistake in leaving her job in NYC but realizes quickly that she is stuck.

I must be getting paranoid, but I just wanted out of the room at this point. I shook his hand firmly and turned to shake Victoria's hand, but she pulled me into a tight embrace. Her breath was cool on my cheek. I stepped back quickly, chilled, then thanked them, and headed quickly for the door and the first floor. 

The mystery surrounding the Cullens is a large part of this fan fiction. There are twists and turns in every chapter and EsmeGrace keeps the reader guessing. Things did not start to click for me until half way through the written chapters when Bella encounters a mysterious figure in the library.

I exited my room quietly, heading toward the library again. There was not another soul around, the passageways dim and silent. I entered the library, and it looked just as I had left it. I suddenly felt very silly. What was I hoping to find here? I slumped onto a chaise lounge and looked up at the ceiling. I was momentarily distracted by the crown molding. It was a lovely specimen, and I tried to remember if it was the same in my restaurant's dining room. Suddenly, just as I had the night before, I thought I glimpsed movement out of the corner of eye. The curtain hiding the alcove, swayed slightly, as if caught in a breeze. I moved stealthily to my feet and inched toward it. Once there, I pinched the material between my fingers and roughly jerked it back, revealing the alcove. I gasped in surprise. Tonight, it was not empty. 

A young man, a very handsome one at that, was seated at the desk inside the alcove. He was wearing what I thought at first was a tuxedo, but then I realized it was actually an old-fashioned dinner dress suit. He was staring at me in shock, probably the mirror of my own expression. He hastily replaced the book he had been pulling from the open glass-covered shelves above the desk and stood awkwardly. I continued to stare like an idiot, desperately searching for some words to say. I felt like I recognized him; he seemed so familiar. I decided he must be a maitre d' for the restaurant, given his attire. I opened my mouth to speak.

"Hello, I apologize. You startled me. I thought I was alone in here," I laughed nervously, trying to alleviate some of the tension of the moment. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped open. I noticed then that his eyes were very green. His skin was fair with pink undertones, and his hair was a lovely reddish-brown, that some might describe as bronze or copper. Irrationally, I thought that his appearance was the opposite of Jacob and that it appealed to me more. Then, I realized that he was still staring at me as if I had two heads and had yet to answer my platitudes. He shook his head as if trying to clear his thoughts and looked at me as if he might have something to say at last. Then, his eyes narrowed and his brow lowered. He strode forward, pushing past me, muttering "Please, excuse me," under his breath. And he was gone. A faint breeze lingered nearby, left over from his passing me. I turned in astonishment at his odd behavior to try and follow him, but he was already gone from the library. He must have run once he'd left the alcove. 

Enter Edward, but is he really Edward?

One of the things that struck me about this fic almost immediately is that every one of the characters has a huge personality. The author has done such great things with each Twilight character that the reader almost feels they are original. Some examples; Alice as a Spa Manager with a sixth sense, Emmett as a Real Estate agent, Ben as a Sous-Chef and Jacob as a love sick Golf Pro!

I know this fic is not complete yet but it is a tragedy that it has so little reviews. It has everything a voracious reader needs including ghosts, mysteries, humor, food and a love story that I have not seen done in another Fan Fiction. It never gets too deep or angsty and is wonderfully descriptive with full characters and exciting story lines. I would highly recommend it.

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