Hounded by the Past

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When veterinarian Ashley Hart learns a haunted hotel will soon open in the old Caswell Manor, a renovated Victorian mansion just outside Aspen Falls, Colorado, she can’t help but wonder what sort of guests the new owners might scare up with their ghoulish gimmicks. However, when hoteliers TJ and Carla Lindell bring their adorable whippet, Poppy, to Ashley for a checkup, they also bring her an irresistible offer—to join them on opening night as they reenact the fatal tragedy that befell the Caswells in the late 1800s and set the stage for more than a century of ghostly gossip. 

Ashley and her boyfriend, handsome park ranger Cole Hawke, eagerly attend the gala and tour the tricked-out “haunted” wing of the hotel. They get more than they bargained for, however, when they witness TJ shot dead before their eyes—and it’s definitely not an illusion. As details of the fresh Caswell Manor calamity unfold, Ashley and Cole realize that TJ’s death was no accident, and someone close to him carefully plotted his cold-blooded murder.

Ashley and Cole quickly become embroiled in the investigation and hope they can help authorities get to the bottom of the ghastly crime. Unfortunately, someone at Caswell Manor keeps trying to frighten them off with increasingly sinister deeds. Can Ashley uncover the killer before someone else dies, or will her attempts at solving the case come back to haunt her . . . with deadly consequences?

The Characters

38-year-old veterinarian Dr. Ashley Hart is always up for a challenge. Smart, bighearted, and driven, she jumps at the chance to open her own practice in Aspen Falls. She’s thrilled that the residents have chosen her to be their veterinarian, and she looks forward to the adventures she and her Dalmatian, Max, will have in their new home. What she doesn’t expect, however, is the menagerie of mysteries that await them in the charming mountain town.

Independent and spunky, 32-year-old Holly Kipp grew up in Gilmore Creek, Colorado, a sleepy town located about an hour away from Aspen Falls. She’s always loved animals and decided to marry her passion for pets with her desire to open her own pet grooming business. 3 Alarm Fur is a full-service pet salon located in the town’s old firehouse, across the hall from Ashley’s clinic, and Holly and Ashley hit it off immediately. Holly enjoys a good conspiracy theory and is always ready to lend a sleuthing hand. She is also a member of the Bookaru Book Club and she never misses a meeting if they’re reading a mystery novel.

Social butterfly and owner of the Mountain Goat Coffee Company, 50-year-old Melanie Lyons always seems to know the latest town gossip. Her coffee shop is located next door to the Happy Tails Veterinary Clinic and she befriends Ashley immediately, always eager to discuss her small herd of goats and two pet Barnevelder chickens, Butch and Cassidy.

With a degree in acting and a penchant for drama, Melanie sings in the church choir and often volunteers to be in the town’s Old West reenactments and other festivals. But Ashley detects another kind of acting going on . . . Melanie lives next door to the horse farm where the trainer Bruce Peterson was found dead in a stall, and she seems to know more about it than she’s telling.

38-year-old Cole Hawke is a U.S. Park Ranger in the White River National Forest. His friends would describe him as good-natured, dependable, and smart, and some would even say he’s one of Aspen Falls most eligible bachelors. An avid cross-country skier and mountain biker, he loves the great outdoors and spends as much time in it as possible, both on the job and off. He’s a member of the In CaHOOTS Bird Watchers club, and he often takes the unofficial lead on the hikes.

Cole is open to a serious romance but he hasn’t found the right woman—until Ashley moves to town. She has a beautiful smile and a spark he can’t resist, but he worries about her getting mixed up in the murder of local trainer, Bruce Peterson.

A member of one of the town’s oldest families, Bruce was a kind man, dedicated to his job, and one who genuinely cared about the well-being of the horses he worked with. He was loved by all—or so it seemed. But when Ashley discovers evidence that his death was no accident, a cloud of suspicion settles over the town of Aspen Falls. Who would want the talented horse trainer dead? As it turns out, Bruce had a few secrets of his own. Ashley must unleash the truth and catch a thoroughbred killer before the culprit sets his sights on her.