Book Review: Edgewater Road by Shelley Shepard Gray

Posted March 20, 2022 by meezcarrie in contemporary, romance, Shelley Shepard Gray / 13 Comments

EDGEWATER ROAD by Shelley Shepard Gray
The Rumors in Ross County #1

GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Publishing
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2022
PAGES: 289

The first in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray, Edgewater Road invites us into a world of family mysteries, small-town secrets, and perhaps a little romance along the way.

When Jennifer Smiley’s grandmother, Ginny, leaves her an old farmhouse on Edgewater Road in seemingly quiet Ross County, Ohio, Jennifer can’t pass up the opportunity for a new beginning. Almost immediately she meets a group of men who generously help her move in. When she realizes that they work for Lincoln Bennett, her next-door neighbor, she’s intrigued. Lincoln is gorgeous and has dark, lapis-blue eyes she could get lost in … but he doesn’t seem all that friendly. She’s torn between getting to know him and sticking with the solitude she knows so well. Maybe she could let down some of those walls she’s built around her emotions?

Lincoln Bennett likes to keep his head down and get his work done. He’s been to prison and he knows that a lot of folks don’t take kindly to a man with that kind of history. Plus, he’s busy helping other ex-cons get back on their feet. But when he meets Jennifer, he can’t help but feel an instant attraction. Will she be able to look past his unsavory history? Will she be able to accept the men he’s working so hard to help?

While Jennifer gets to know Lincoln and his friends, she also begins to unravel her grandmother’s story, putting together the pieces from scraps of memories and things she finds in her new home. She soon discovers that Ginny Smiley harbored some dark secrets on Edgewater Road—and that those secrets include both Lincoln and her own absent father. Is learning the truth worth the heartache it could bring?

As the weeks pass and she and Lincoln become closer, Jennifer learns there is a lot to uncover in Ross County—wonderful friendships, darling towns … and more than one secret that might be better left buried.


I have said it before and I’ll say it again – Shelley Shepard Gray could write a phone book and I wouldn’t be able to put it down! I love the variety of genres she writes in while still under the romance umbrella, as well as the way her characters & plots always manage to surprise me in some way – even with as many books as I’ve read by her. I went into Edgewater Road not exactly sure what to expect. Is it a mystery? Suspense? Small town romance? Edgy? Sweet? The answer to all of those questions is ‘a little bit, yes’. And it’s a whole lot of good writing, too!

Jennifer is definitely a character I could identify with in many ways – she’s a bit sheltered, naturally introverted, and works from home. I liked her warm personality (once she relaxes a bit) but I did want to shake her a couple of times haha. (Like when her naivete causes her to make stupid decisions or when she keeps going back and forth between calling Lincoln ‘Lincoln’ and ‘John’ – his first name.) She is a character I would have fun spending time with in real life, though, and I enjoyed following along with her quest to solve the mysteries surrounding her grandmother’s secret life.

When she moves into her late grandmother’s house after the funeral, she encounters a group of ex-cons next door who are still a little (or a lot) rough around the edges. In fact, if you’re the type who is prone to pearl-clutching you might find yourself doing so a couple of times when some of them are on the page. For my part, I appreciated that the men had layers that made sense with their less-than-squeaky-clean pasts and that the author was able to depict those rough edges authentically while still staying true to a ‘clean read’ novel. I was particularly intrigued by Bo and Seth, and I hope the next books in the series feature them, too!

Speaking of intriguing men, there is Lincoln – who I found in equal turns swoony and exasperating. He frequently calls Jennifer ‘babe’ from the get-go, which I never like in men who don’t actually know a woman, and stakes his claim on her among his men but has no intention of pursuing her. Exasperating. BUT he also watches out for her from the get-go with a tender ferocity that is especially endearing, and once he does decide to pursue her? keep those fans handy. Swoony. He’s part alpha-male and part teddy bear, and his redeemed rogue persona is one that never fails to make my reader heart all twitterpated. His faith journey, while key to the person he is when we meet him, is brushed subtly across this story so that it isn’t ‘in your face’ while still showing the power of grace to change a life.

Bottom Line: Edgewater Road by Shelley Shepard Gray has a little bit of everything, appealing to a wide variety of readers. Family secrets. Small-town vibes. Swoony romance. Redeemed hero. Relatable heroine. It’s a little bit edgy and a little bit sweet, but both descriptions make sense given the characters’ backgrounds & the growth they undergo in this compelling romance. Even the supporting players in Edgewater Road grabbed my attention and held it fast, and I look forward to reading more about them in future books. If, like me, one of the reasons you love Gray’s Amish fiction is because it is rarely stereotypical or idealistic, then you’ll enjoy her new contemporary (decidedly non-Amish) romance too!

Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that, while this is definitely a clean read, there are a couple of mild curse words and mature topics in this story. There is also a scene of physical violence against a woman for those who may be triggered by such imagery.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!

KissingBook Level: 4 / keeps those fans and fainting couches handy!!

affiliate links used

Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous romantic fiction series and mystery novels, including the Seasons of Sugarcreek series, the Sisters of the Heart series, the Families of Honor series, and others. She is the recipient of the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. She has written more than eighty novels, translated into multiple languages. You can find more information at

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What about you? What makes you want to read Edgewater Road by Shelley Shepard Gray?

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13 responses to “Book Review: Edgewater Road by Shelley Shepard Gray

  1. Suzanne Sellner

    I’ve loved every book I’ve ever read by Shelley Shepard Gray and look forward to reading this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. Margarey

    I am looking forward to reading of the interaction between Lincoln and Jennifer. Great review.

  3. Kay Garrett

    You are so right about Shelley being a must read author. Love her books!

    Thank you for your review, which just makes me want to read this book on my TBR list all the more.

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