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A brighter future awaits—if she can escape the shadows of the past

Emily Leland sheds no tears when her abusive husband is killed in a bar fight, but what awaits her back home in Sweetwater Crossing is far from the welcome and comfort she expected. First she discovers her father has died under mysterious circumstances. Then the house where the new schoolteacher and his son are supposed to board burns, leaving them homeless. When Emily proposes turning the family home into a boardinghouse, her sister is so incensed that she leaves town.

Alone and broke, her family name sullied by controversy, Emily is determined to solve the mystery of her father’s death—and to aid Craig Ferguson, despite her fears of men. The widowed schoolmaster proves to be a devoted father, an innovative teacher, and an unexpected ally. Together they must work to unmask a killer and escape the shadows of their own pasts in order to forge a brighter future.

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot transports you to 1880s Texas Hill Country for a brand-new series that will have you flipping pages to solve the mystery and get to the happily-ever-after you long for.

Amanda Cabot recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, AFTER THE SHADOWS.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I’ve been a fan of both mysteries and romantic suspense for almost as long as I’ve been a reader. For me, there’s nothing as satisfying as solving a mystery along with the protagonist unless it’s being surprised at the end, then rereading the book to see how the author planted the clues. At the same time, I gravitate to stories with a happy ending, so writing books that combine both romance and mystery/suspense was the logical next step after being an avid reader. I believe that the appeal of both mysteries and romance novels is their satisfying endings. There’s no ambiguity. The villain is unmasked; the hero and heroine have resolved their problems and are looking forward to a life together. In a world filled with uncertainty, these genres provide inherent comfort and reassurance that justice does prevail and that true love exists.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

I’m a confirmed (some would say obsessive) plotter, so you’d probably expect me to say that plot came first. The reality is, I find plot and character to be so closely entwined that it’s impossible to say which came first. Perhaps that’s because I write character-driven books. As I began plotting After the Shadows, I knew that Emily would be a widow, grateful to have escaped an abusive marriage, who returns to her hometown expecting a peaceful existence, only to be confronted with her father’s death, a death that she believes is murder. Once I knew that, the rest of the puzzle fell into place.

Was there anything new you discovered or that surprised you as you wrote this book?

As a matter of fact, there was. The mystery revolves around a character’s apparent suicide by hanging. As I began researching the types of knots that might have been used, I was surprised by how many different knots there are and how difficult some of them are to tie … at least for me. My editor, who’s far more knowledgeable about knots than I am, questioned my choice. That resulted in a long discussion about which knot would be the best, since I didn’t want to use the hangman’s noose. It took a while, but ultimately we agreed that the knot I’d chosen made sense for both the plot and the characters involved, and – as a bonus – I learned a lot more about the fine art of tying knots.


Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of several historical and contemporary romance series, including Mesquite Springs, Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at