Confessions to a Stranger

Secrets abound in this suspenseful, first-in-series historical romance.

She’s lost her future. He’s sacrificed his. Now they have a chance to reclaim it—together.

Wisconsin, 1930—While fleeing for her life, Adaleigh Sirland’s rescue of a child introduces her to a family who provides her safe harbor. But all is not what it seems in the little fishing town. Danger lurks. And, though hiding under an assumed name, Adaleigh offers her ability to draw out confessions, making her a valuable asset to the police.

First mate David Martins is intrigued by the mysterious woman taken in by his grandmother, but knows she wrestles with a troubled past. When his estranged father is arrested for murder, David enlists Adaleigh’s help in proving his innocence. In return, he’s determined to help her find hope once again.

As the truth becomes more knotted, and Adaleigh’s real identity risks revelation, David must put aside his own struggles to discern which secret threatens Adaleigh before it kills them both.

Welcome to Crow’s Nest, where danger and romance meet at the water’s edge.

Read the whole series!
Book One: Confessions to a Stranger
Book Two: Refuge for the Archaeologist
Book Three: Escape with the Prodigal
Book Four: Relying on the Enemy
Book Five: Sheltered by the Doctor
Book Six: Investigation of a Journalist


UNW Distinguished Faith in Writing Award
RWA mystery/romantic suspense - kiss of death - 2024 Daphne du Maurer award for excellence in mystery/suspense - published historical romantic mystery/suspense category

What Readers are Saying

"A book to bless and encourage every reader!"
"This book has it all! Suspense, murder and love ... A definite must read!"
"A great series starter."
"Danielle Grandinetti has once again done an amazing job of weaving together suspense, romance, faith and the unconditional love of God in a way that really speaks to your heart."
"If you’re looking for a story that has the most delightful blend of mystery, suspense, love, loss, grief, forgiveness and finding home, look no further."

Read an Excerpt from Chapter One

Friday, May 30, 1930, Memorial Day
Crow’s Nest, Wisconsin

The caw of a seagull yanked Adaleigh Sirland’s gaze from her worn journal. Her pulse kicked up, and she gripped her mechanical pencil as she searched for the bird. It sat atop the uppermost spire of a boat docked ten feet away. Dark and murky, the water lapped at her shoes.

Relax. No one knows you’re here.

Behind her lay Crow’s Nest. A bright, bustling place for a secluded inlet town on the western banks of Lake Michigan. Children raced. Mothers attempted to contain them. Chains clanked as boats came in and out of the harbor, creating a gentle surf. Seagulls fought with the pigeons. The evening sun dodged the clouds as it warmed her back. The summer heat soothed the ache in her soul.

Another scream tore her out of her reverie. A child’s scream this time. Not of excitement, but terror. Adaleigh stuffed her journal, pocket Bible, and pencil into her knapsack as she bounced to her feet. To the left, a young woman with pinned-up blonde hair pointed at the water as if it would jump out at her. Two school-aged boys tugged a rope closer to the edge of the boardwalk. The boy who had fallen into the water barely bobbed above the surface three feet from shore.

In an instant, Adaleigh tossed her bag on the dock that jutted out from the boardwalk, kicked out of her black Oxfords, and jumped feet first into the harbor. Her knee-length skirt flew over her face, and air leapt out of her lungs as she hit the frigid water.

Come on, Adaleigh, focus. She shoved the fabric out of her way.

The boy floated facedown, inches from a large boat’s hull. Please, God, not a child. Practiced strokes quickly brought her closer. The boy didn’t move, didn’t call for help, didn’t struggle with the water. She maneuvered around him, attempting to come up behind so she wouldn’t startle him into drowning her. That’s when she saw the blood.

She flashed to another scene. The one that haunted her nights and dogged her by day. God, not here, please. She hauled herself back to the present before panic made her useless.

Adaleigh quickened her stroke, wrapped an arm around the boy’s shoulders, and pulled his head above water. His chest didn’t rise against the pressure of her grip.

“Take this!” someone called, and a red life preserver ring landed by her elbow.

A crowd had gathered along the edge of the water. She hesitated. Not only was she inappropriately attired to be in the water, her life depended on staying unnoticed. One look at the boy whose chin she kept above the surface pushed back her fear. He needed help. Her help. That didn’t require a second thought.

She clutched the life preserver, kicking to help the bystanders pull them in. Eager hands reached down to lift the boy onto hard ground. A man in a cowboy hat held out a hand to her, but the warning in her head, the one reminding her that her own life was at stake, had her shaking her head. Getting out of the water with a dress plastered to her body in front of a growing crowd … no.

She eased back toward where she had left her shoes, treading water and clenching her chattering teeth as Cowboy Hat performed resuscitation on the boy. He had him on his stomach, arms extended over his head, and pressed on his upper back. One … two… three … The man counted to ten before the boy choked for air. Thank God. He was alive!

Now, time to disappear. Again.

With no ladder to climb up and the water barely lifting her high enough to grasp the top of the planks she’d so quickly jumped off of to rescue the boy, she would now have to pull herself up without leverage—and without help since she didn’t want to attract any undo notice. No easy feat, but she could do it. She had to.

She grabbed the edge and kicked at the water for momentum. Almost. The fabric stuck to her stomach and caught the rough boards as she fell back into the water. A shiver skittered over her body. Maybe she should have taken the help when it was offered, even if it led to embarrassment. But discovery …?

The county ambulance’s horn stopped the crowd’s commotion for a moment, then the onlookers redoubled their interest as two men in white coats pushed their way to the boy. No one seemed to notice her in the water. That’s what she wanted, right? To stay hidden? To stay … alive?

Cold wrapped its icy fingers around her chest. Or was it fear? Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Again she reached for the dock, gave a kick. And lost her grip.

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