Review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Published: May 9, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Son
Format: via audiobook
Rating: 5/5

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning. Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

My Thoughts
Oh, how I loved this story! We met Lucy and Gabe and from the very beginning you know they are meant to be. However, as much as they love and want to be together their lives are destined to go in different directions. Lucy wants to stay in New York and begin her career but Gabe is a photojournalist and wants to travel the world and conquer his dreams so they try and make it work but soon discover its impossible. So we see both as time passes and how even though they don’t talk all the time they know they will always be a part of one another's life. They always weave in and out of each other's lives and even if they are in other relationships there is always a deep bond between the two that no one can break.

So when Lucy gets engaged and eventually married its no surprise that her husband isn't too thrilled that whenever Gabe comes back to town Lucy always finds a way to meet up with him. She claims it's because they are friends but we all know its so much more than that. I was torn by this because I know it isn’t right since she is married but the story of Lucy and Gabe is so connected that I can't help but root for them. It's not that Lucy doesn’t care or love her husband but her love for Gabe is epic. Its something that comes once in a lifetime and that kind of love doesn’t come around that often.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I won't go into details but the ending of this book had me in tears! The conclusion of their love story literally torn my heart into a thousand tiny pieces, but I loved it. I enjoy a great love story and this is exactly what this is, its heartbreaking but love is just that, it isn’t pretty or easy but when you find your soulmate nothing is greater than that. This was a wonderful and beautiful read and I actually listened to this on audio and it was read by the author which I thought was amazing, so if you want an unforgettable read that will stay with you forever this is definitely the one for you.


Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: Just One Love by Jami Wagner

Today we have the release day blitz of JUST ONE LOVE by Jami Wagner! Check it out and grab your copy today!

Just One Love by Jami Wagner

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Just One Love

  My entire life is a lie. He launched my salty reputation. Yet, here I am, doing him another favor so he can get what he wants—maybe then I can dislodge him from my heart.   There is an emptiness in my life. Yet I have everything I need, or at least, I thought I did. It was supposed to be a simple deal between friends. Friends? Yeah, right. I should have known we’re too volatile for that.

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Exclusive Excerpt

I jump down and grab my knife, but as but as I pull back in what should be the segue into my quick getaway run—dramatic, smooth, commanding, just like in the movies—I’m jerked back. Shit. Shit. Shit. The knife is stuck. “Abby, let’s go!” Beth snaps at me. She’s crouched behind the truck where they can’t see her. “I cannot believe that I trusted that you were going to break up with him like a normal person. Let’s go.” “I’m trying,” I shush back, jerking again on the damn knife. “Just leave it.” “It has my initials on it.” A gift from my mom for my eighteenth birthday. She knows me so well. Not. “What the … seriously?” Beth moves around to the tire and pushes me out of the way. I duck when Jace’s ball cap comes into view over the back of the truck. Then, Beth and I yank on the knife together. Nothing happens. “Let me drive!” Tyler shouts. “Dude, what the fuck is your deal? It’s my truck. I’ll drive.” “But I’m thinking of getting one just like it, and I need to test drive something.” Tyler’s response is quick. “Dude, whatever,” Jace replies as I see the keys flying through the air, right before Tyler comes into view. “What the fuck are you doing, Abby?” he says through the side of his lips. I barely see his mouth move. “Trying to leave. What does it look like?” I whisper frantically. “Whoops!” Tyler drops the keys. He kneels in front of the tire and jerks the knife out in one swift move. Damn. His white T-shirt hugs his bicep, and, oh boy, he looks good tonight. I mean, he’s always had the whole Liam Hemsworth thing going on, but tonight he looks even hotter than a movie star. His hair is the perfect dirty blonde and his eyes are brightest green I’ve ever seen. Don’t even get me started on his smile. Shoot, any girl would agree to whatever he wanted just to see it one more time. I would know. I’ve been that girl. Tyler gives the knife to me and mouths “run.” We don’t hesitate in the slightest. I tuck the knife into my back pocket as I duck to run. The tire is successfully slashed, and I’m not leaving any evidence of my crime at the scene. Hunching behind her car, Beth shoots daggers from her eyes as she stares at me. The look is so intense, I need something else to focus on. Yes, this crack on the sidewalk is a nice distraction. “I can’t believe you,” she seethes. “It’s fine. No one saw us but Tyler,” I say just as Jace begins shouting a string of curses. Jackass. “I should have known you were going to do something crazy tonight. You made breaking up sound so simple,” Beth adds. I shrug and then we both hunker down tighter when the lights of Tyler’s truck flash our way. I crawl around the front of the car and watch them turn the corner. Then, I start to laugh. Beth is still glaring at me. Only now she’s standing with her hands on her hips and looking at me like my mom would when I’d come home past curfew, before she decided she didn’t want anything to do with me. The whole picture makes me laugh even harder. Slowly, Beth’s lips begin to tug into a smile. “You are out of control,” she says and unlocks her car. “There is nothing wrong with that,” I tell her.  

About the Author

JAMI WAGNER was born in Wyoming. Still living in the Cowboy State, Jami and her husband are currently writing their own love story with their yellow Lab. Jami enjoys writing Romance and published her debut novella, Date in the Dark, in 2015. Her first full-length novel, Just One Kiss, was published in October 2015 and is the first book in her Black Alcove series. The remainder in the series, Just One Night, Just One Touch, Just One Moment, and Just One Spark are available now. 

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

In which our sexy hero wakes up with a woman in his bed and
no memory of how that happened. Did he miss the good stuff?
Hot Winter Nights
Heartbreaker Bay – Book 6
Jill Shalvis
Avon Books

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas . . .
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.


Review: We the Animals by Justin Torres

We the Animals by Justin Torres              
Published: August 11, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: via audiobook
Rating: 4/5

Three brothers tear their way through childhood — smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn — he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white — and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.

My Thoughts
We the Animals is a raw and hard-hitting look at the lives of three brothers who have seen and been through things that no one should ever encounter. It is told through the perspective of one brother and the things that happen to him and his brothers are sad and heartbreaking. We see how their family life is with a father who is mean and who hits his wife and a mother who is just as bad. We see them accept all that happens in their house as something that is normal and no one shows them otherwise. I felt pain for these brothers who are hopeless, they experience things that are ugly but even with that they always stick together.

This is a short yet powerful novel one that truly packs a punch. The ending of the book is what truly got me. It mainly focuses on the narrator, whom we never find out his name and how he is dealing with all of this. He starts to come into his own and we see how he is dealing with his feelings and the things he has dealt with and how all of this messes with his mind. I see him as trying to find his way and trying to become who he is all at the same time.

This isn’t a novel for everyone like I said it is raw and dark but it is a book that demands to be read. Life isn’t all light and fluffy for everyone, and this novel shows us that there are people who live a hard and scary life. This is a beautifully written novel about dark subjects but if you go into this with an open mind you might just learn something.


Review: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
Published: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.

My Thoughts
I was thinking this was just going to be another domestic thriller but the plot twist at the end had me like what??!!  In The Other Woman, we met Emily who was at a bar with some co-workers when she meets Adam and the rest is sort of history. They soon become inseparable really fast and in no time Adam wants Emily to meet his mother Pammie.

Pammie is the meanest of mothers I have ever read about. Like all mothers, she tends to think that Emily isn’t good enough for her son and it seems like she will do anything to make Emily go away. Pammie constantly brings up Adam’s ex who unexpectedly died and it seems like she is always trying to not include Emily in family outings. Adam tries to tell Emily she is imagining things and that Pammie really likes her but when Emily and Pammie are alone she knows she isn’t imagining everything. Adam isn’t everything Emily thought he was, in the beginning, he was nice and sweet but after time together she soon finds out that he has a temper and isn’t so sweet after all. She hates that he takes his mother's side on everything and as hard as she tries she can't make him take her side. She is so convinced that Pammie wants her out of Adam’s life that she doesn’t see what’s right in front of her.

I will say that all the characters are flawed in this book but that’s what makes it so good. I found myself not really rooting for anyone because as the story went on you discovered new things about everyone and no one was better than the others. This storyline was definitely like an onion in the sense that as it went on layers upon layers were peeled back and just when you thought you figured something out something else was revealed. I loved that not until the very end did we really see what had really happened and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, and it isn’t very often that a book can hide it so well until the very end. This was a somewhat twisted book that really threw me for a loop, just when I thought I had it figured out and hated some characters more than others did the plot twist reveal something even more twisted! You guys this is one read that will have you hooked from the get-go and have you until the very crazy ending.


Review: Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand   
Expected Publication: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Irene Steele’s idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John’s. This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter.

My Thoughts
In Elin Hilderbrand’s new novel Winter in Paradise, we leave her usual setting of her beloved Nantucket and she brings us to the tropical setting of St. John in her newest Winter series. We meet Irene who loves her life and has everything she has wanted except more time with her husband who works so much for all they have. She also has two grown sons who are going through tough times of their own but everyone’s lives are about to change when Irene gets a phone call that her husband has died.

Irene is stunned when she learns that her husband has lead a double life and she begins to wonder who exactly was she married to? She learns that he lead this totally different life in St. John and that he didn’t die alone that he did, in fact, have a mistress and possibly a secret child. So what is Irene to do but go down there and try to find out who her husband really was and decides to bring her two sons along for the ride. One son is trying to find his way in life. He is so different from his father, he is carefree and just wants to enjoy life while his brother is exactly like their dad he is a go-getter and is all about business but he has pushed that away to take care of his son full time while his wife a doctor focuses on her career. However, he is shocked when moments before he finds out about his fathers' death his wife tells him she is leaving him for another woman.

In St. John we meet a cast of other characters who play major parts in this story. We find out more about the mistress and her best friend whom both of Irene sons fall for. We also met the mistresses stepfather who has a spark of sorts with Irene which I’m totally on board with. There are a lot of characters on this small island but you never get confused and they just bring lots of depth to the story.

I really enjoyed this first book in her new series, I think the set up for the next novels is definitely there and the storyline is really good. I like how she has added elements of mystery with this one and how there is so much to explore in regards to Irene’s husbands’ death. What exactly happened? Was it really an accident or was it something more sinister? And what exactly was his job and who did he work for? I can't wait to discover all these things in the future and hopefully, my questions will be answered. This was definitely a good first book and I can't wait to learn more about these really interesting characters.


Blog Tour: The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith

The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith
Published: September 18, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Spenser Collins
An unlikely Harvard prospect, smart and athletic, strapped for cash, determined to succeed. Calls his mother—who raised him on her own in Chicago—every week.

Dalton Winthrop
A white-shoe legacy at Harvard, he's just the most recent in a string of moneyed, privileged Winthrop men in Cambridge. He's got the ease—and the deep knowledge—that come from belonging.

These two find enough common ground to become friends, cementing their bond when Spenser is "punched" to join the Delphic Club, one of the most exclusive of Harvard's famous all-male final clubs. Founded in the nineteenth century, the Delphic has had titans of industry, Hollywood legends, heads of state, and power brokers among its members.

Dalton Winthrop knows firsthand that the Delphic doesn't offer memberships to just anyone. His great-uncle is one of their oldest living members, and Dalton grew up on stories of the club's rituals. But why is his uncle so cryptic about the Ancient Nine, a shadowy group of alums whose identities are unknown and whose power is absolute? They protect the Delphic's darkest and oldest secrets—including what happened to a student who sneaked into the club's stately brick mansion in 1927 and was never seen again.

Dalton steers Spenser into deeper and deeper recesses of the club, and beyond it, to try to make sense of what they think they may be seeing. But with each scrap of information they get from an octogenarian Crimson graduate, a crumbling newspaper in the library's archives, or one of Harvard's most famous and heavily guarded historical books, a fresh complication trips them up. The more the friends investigate, the more questions they unearth, tangling the story of the club, the disappearance, and the Ancient Nine, until they realize their own lives are in danger.

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Halloween Night, 1927

The Delphic MansionCambridge, Massachusetts

EMPTY ROPES CLATTERED against flagpoles, and street signs flappedhelplessly in the shadowy night. Two boys sneaked down a cobblestone pathcrowded with heavy bushes and enormous signs that warned against trespassing.They stood there for a moment, their bodies dwarfed by the giganticbrick mansion “That’s enough, let’s turn around,” Kelton Dunhill whispered. He had large competent hands and knots of compact muscles that bulged underneath his varsity letter sweater. He carried a long silver flashlight he had borrowed from the superintendent’s office of his residential house. “I’m going all the way,” Erasmus Abbott said firmly. “I didn’t come this far to chicken out. Just a few more minutes and we’ll be inside.”Dunhill looked up at the tall wrought-iron fence that had been reinforced with solid wood planks to obstruct any potential view into the rear courtyard. He was a tough, scrappy kid, a varsity wrestler who had been undefeated in almost three years of college competition. He was many things, but a quitter was not one of them. Very little intimidated Dunhill, the son of a banker and elementary school music teacher, but when he looked up at the mansion’s towering spires and turrets set against the ominous sky and the royal blue flag that snapped so loudly in the wind, something made him feel uneasy. At that very moment, if Erasmus Abbott had not been standing next to him, he would’ve turned on his heels and run like hell. The only thing that kept his feet planted was his greater fear of the humiliation he would face once the others got word that the scrawny Abbott had showed bigger nerve.“If we get caught, we’ll be fried,” Dunhill said in his most persuasive voice, trying to sound rational rather than scared. “Technically speaking, we’re trespassing, and they can do anything they want to us since we’re on their property. I don’t need to remind you of what happened to A. C. Gordon.”Erasmus Abbott took the milk crates they had been carrying and stacked them in a small pyramid against the fence, then slipped on his gloves and pulled his hat down until it settled just above his eyes. He was dressed all in black. Now completely disguised, he turned and faced Dunhill.“There’s no proof Gordon ever made it this far,” Abbott contested. “And besides, I never believed the whole business about his disappearance anyway.” Abbott turned toward the platform of milk crates, then back at Dunhill, and said, “So what’s it going to be? I’m making history tonight with or without you. The answer is in there, and I’m not gonna stop till I find it.”“Jesus Christ,” Dunhill mumbled under his breath before pulling down his own skullcap and stepping up to the fence. It all started out as a dare, but Abbott had taken it more seriously than anyone expected. This would certainly not be the first time a student had tried to break into the well-guarded Delphic mansion. There had been many attempts over the years, but according to legend, the farthest anyone had gotten was the external foyer. No one had ever penetrated the interior. What most worried Dunhill, however, was that few had lived to share their story.“And what’s your plan once we get on the other side of the fence?” Dunhill said.Abbott ran his hand over the small canvas bag strapped to his waist. “Everything we need is in here,” he said. “Once we get to the back door, I’ll have the lock open in well under a minute.”Abbott had been practicing on diferent doors all over Quincy House in the middle of the night. His best-recorded time was twenty-nine seconds with a blindfold covering his eyes and a stopwatch hanging around his neck.Abbott was not particularly athletic, but he scaled the crates easily and in one motion hoisted himself over the top of the fence and its row of pointed spears. Dunhill heard him land hard on the other side, then made a small sign of the cross over his heart, climbed onto the crates, and hurled himself over the fence. He landed on the firm slate tiles with a jolt.They stood on the perimeter of a large courtyard dotted with elaborate marble sculptures and a fountain whose water sat motionless in a wide, striated basin. There were no lights to guide them, but moonlight cut through the heavy canopy of trees that towered overhead. A formidable, sturdy brick wall that was even taller than the fence they had just climbed surrounded them on two sides. Abbott had correctly chosen their entry point into the yard.A gust of wind sent small piles of leaves flying sideways from one corner of the courtyard to the next. The mansion was eerily dark except for the dull flicker of a light in a small window just underneath the sloping angle of the tiled roof. The enormous building looked cold and menacing and unforgiving.“She’s massive,” Abbott whispered. “I didn’t think she’d be this big. Must’ve cost them a king’s fortune to build it.”“It’s not empty,” Dunhill said, pointing at the lighted window. “I still say this isn’t a good idea. We’ve already proved our point. Let’s get the hell out of here while we still can.”Abbott pretended he hadn’t heard a word Dunhill said. He walked quietly across the courtyard toward a set of stairs that led to a large door with small panes and a brass doorknob that glistened under the moonlight’s glow. He cupped his face to the glass and looked inside. He turned and waved Dunhill over, but Dunhill remained motionless underneath the fence, still not believing they had actually gotten this far.Abbott unzipped the canvas bag, pulled out a couple of tools, and quickly went to work on the lock. That’s when Dunhill glimpsed a shadow moving across the courtyard. He looked up toward the lighted window and saw  something that he would never forget. It was the ugliest, scariest, blackest face he had ever laid eyes on. His heart tightened in his chest, and his lungs constricted. He tried to scream but couldn’t get the air to move in his throat. He turned to Erasmus to warn him, but it was too late. The door was open, and he was already inside.


Harvard College

Cambridge, Massachusetts

October 2, 1988

IT SHOULDN’T HAVE been enough to wake me, but I had just drifted off on the couch in the common room that separated my bedroom from my roommate’s. It was a short scratchy sound: a pebble or sand being dragged across the linoleum floor. I looked toward Percy’s bedroom. His door was closed and his light off. I sat up on the sofa, swiveling my head in the darkness to see what could’ve made the noise. Mice were not exactly uncommon sightings in these old Harvard houses, some of which had been built more than a century ago, so I was preparing myself for vermin out on a late-night scavenge. But when I turned on the lamp and looked down at the floor, what sat there took me completely by surprise.Someone had slipped a small cream-colored envelope underneath the front door. There was no postage or return address, just my name and room number elaborately inscribed.

Spenser Collins

Lowell House L-11

I turned the envelope over, hoping to find some indication of who might have sent it, but what I discovered was even more puzzling.Embossed on the flap were three torches—so dark blue, they were almost black—arranged in a perfect V shape.I heard footsteps just outside the door, slow at first, but then they began to pick up speed. I pulled the door open, but the hallway was empty. Our room was on the first floor, so I grabbed my keys and ran a short distance down the hall, jumped a small flight of steps, then rammed my shoulder into the entryway door, forcing it open into the cool night. I immediately heard voices echoing across the courtyard, a cluster of three girls stumbling in high heels, dragging themselves in from a long night of drinking.I scanned the shadows, but nothing else moved. I looked to my right and thought about running across the path that led to the west courtyard and out into the tiny streets of Cambridge. But my bare feet were practically frozen to the concrete, and the wind assaulted me like shards of ice cutting through my T-shirt. I retreated to the warmth of my room.Percy’s bedroom door was still closed, which was not surprising. He wouldn’t wake up if an armored tank tore through the wall and opened fire.I sat on the edge of the couch and examined the envelope again. Why would someone deliver it by hand in the middle of the night, then sneak away? None of it made any sense. I opened the book flap slowly, feeling almost guilty ripping what appeared to be expensive paper. The stationery was brittle, like rice paper, and the same three torches were prominently displayed in the letterhead.

The President and members of the Delphic Club cordially invite you to a cocktail party on

Friday, October 14, 7 o’clock

Lily Field Mansion at 108 Brattle St. Cambridge.

Please call 876-0400 with regrets only.

I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Dalton Winthrop’s number. Fifth-generation Harvard and heir to the vast Winthrop and Lewington fortunes, he was one of the most finely pedigreed of all Harvard legacies, descending from a family that had been claiming Harvard since the 1600s, when the damn school got its charter from the Bay Colony. Dalton was a hopeless insomniac, so I knew he’d still be awake.“What the hell are you doing up this time of the night?” Dalton said. “Some of us around here need our beauty sleep.” He sounded fully awake.“What can you tell me about something called the Delphic Club?” I asked.The phone rustled as he sat up.“Did you just say ‘the Delphic’?” he said.“Yeah, do you know anything about it?”There was a slight pause before he said, “Why the hell are you asking about the Delphic at this ungodly hour?”“They invited me to a cocktail party next Friday night. Someone just slipped the invitation under my door, then ran.”“Are you fucking kidding me? The Delphic invited you to a cocktail party?”“Unless there’s another Spenser Collins I don’t know about.”“No offense, Spenser, but don’t get your hopes up,” he said. “This is probably some kind of prank someone’s pulling on you. The Delphic isn’t just a club, like any fraternity. It’s the most secretive of Harvard’s nine most exclusive clubs. They’re called final clubs. The Delphic goes all the way back to the 1800s and has some of the world’s most prominent men as members. An invitation to their cocktail party is like an invitation to kiss the papal ring.”“So, what you’re really trying to say is that they would never give an invitation to a poor black kid from the South Side of Chicago.”“Spenser, you know I don’t agree with that kinda shit, but that’s how these secret societies operate. They haven’t changed much over the last century and a half. Rich white men passing off the baton to the next generation, keeping their secrets shielded from the rest of the world. Yale has Skull and Bones, but here at Harvard we have the final clubs. It’s no exaggeration when I tell you that some of the country’s biggest secrets are buried in their old mansions.”“If I don’t fit their image, then why did someone just slip this invite under my door?” I said.“Because it’s not real,” Dalton said.“What do you mean?”“Guys joke like this all the time. This is the beginning of what’s called punch season, which means the clubs are secretly nominating sophomores to enter a series of election rounds. Whoever survives the cuts over the two months gets elected into the club. You’ve heard of the hazing they do in fraternities. Well, this is a little like that, but it’s a lot more formal with much bigger stakes.”“What makes you so sure my invitation is fake when you haven’t even seen it?”“Are you alone?”“Percy’s here, but he’s out cold.”“Pull out the invite and tell me if you see torches anywhere.”I was sitting in the chair underneath the window, still eyeing the courtyard, hoping I might see who might’ve dropped off the envelope. The ambient light cracked the darkness of our common room. I held up the envelope.“There are three torches on the back of the envelope,” I said.“What about the stationery?”“There too.”“How many?”“Three.”“What color?”“Dark blue.”“Is the center torch lower or higher than the others?”“Lower.”Dalton sighed loudly. “Now take the stationery, turn it over, and hold it up to a light,” he said. “Tell me if you see anything when you look at the torches.”I followed Dalton’s instructions, carefully removing the shade from one of Percy’s expensive porcelain lamps that his grandmother had proudly given him from her winter house in Palm Beach. I held the invitation next to the naked bulb. “There’s a thin circle with the initials JPM inside,” I said. “But you can only see it under the light. When you move it away, the letters disappear.”“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Spense, it’s the real deal!” Dalton yelled as if he were coming through the phone. “The Delphic really has punched you this season. I can’t believe this is happening. Tell me the date of the party again.”It was rare to hear this level of excitement in Dalton’s voice. Few things got him going, and they typically had to do with either women, food, or his father, whom he hated more than the Yankees.“Next Friday at seven o’clock,” I said. “It’s at a place called Lily Field Mansion.”“Lily Field, of course,” Dalton said. “It’s the biggest one up there on mansion row, and it’s owned by the Jacobs family, one of the richest in the country. Stanford Jacobs used to be the graduate president of the Delphic, so it makes sense that he’s hosting the opening cocktail party.”Secret society, mansions, ultra-wealthy families, an invitation delivered under the cloak of darkness. It was all part of a foreign world that made little sense to me, the son of a single mother who answered phones at a small energy company.“So, what the hell does all this mean?” I asked.“That you’re coming over here tomorrow for dinner, so we can figure out some sort of strategy,” Dalton said. “This is all a long shot, but if things go well for you on Friday night, you might make it to the next round. I’m getting way ahead of myself—but one round at a time, and you might be the way we crack the Ancient Nine.”“The Ancient Nine?” I asked. “Is that another name for the clubs?”“No, two different things,” Dalton said. “The Ancient Nine are an ultrasecret society of nine members of the Delphic. A secret society within a secret society that not even the other Delphic members know much about. Most around here have never even heard of the Ancient Nine, but for those who have, some swear it exists, others think it’s nothing more than another Harvard legend.”“What do you think?”Dalton paused deliberately. “I’d bet everything I own that they exist. But no one can get them to break their code of silence. According to rumors, they are hiding not only one of Harvard’s most valued treasures but also century-old secrets that involve some of the world’s richest families.”
Copyright © 2018 by Ian K. Smith in The Ancient Nine and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press.
Author Bio
Ian K. Smith is the author of nine New York Times bestselling nonfiction books, several of them, including Shred and Super Shred, #1 bestsellers, as well as one previous work of fiction, The Blackbird Papers. He is a graduate of Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.