Guest Review: Hilltop Sunset by Joyce Strand

Our guest poster, Rachel Quaill received Hilltop Sunset by Joyce Strand to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions are 100% her own.


A mystery set in wine country pitting financial exec Brynn Bancroft against a determined stalker, a troubled love interest, and career clashes.

Brynn Bancroft learns that a former employee who beat her nearly to death has returned to stalk her and her friend, Jillian Hillcrest, also a former victim.

Recently divorced, Brynn turns to a new love interest only to encounter additional unwelcome issues. Meanwhile, short-timer Brynn, who has resigned from her Silicon Valley company, becomes bored fulfilling her remaining responsibilities there. She begins to prefer supporting the launch of her ex-husband’s new hilltop winery while waiting to move to her next position. Between her stalker and her new love interest, Brynn faces a series of life-changing events.

Guest Review from Rachel Quaill

The book grabs the reader quickly by introducing the main character Brynn Bancroft and her instability caused by a tortuous near-death experience. Brynn and her ex-husband, Liam, are reeling from the harrowing experience just as they are trying to come to terms with their complicated relationship. The introduction of Isabel, the villain, is done quickly and with clear insight into just how dangerous this character is. Much like the rest of the novel the reader does not have to guess about the characters and what they are capable of.  Joyce T. Strand does an excellent job giving life and meaning to each character down to they type of clothes they wear and what their background is.

Immediately the reader can see where this relationship might go with Brynn and Liam, being that they are still on “good terms”.  I mean seriously who has a commemoration for the finalization of a 14 yearlong marriage. Brynn even hopes during this honorable event that Liam might still confess is undying love and admiration for her within the first chapter of the book. These plays between loss and acceptance cause the reader to root for the eventual affirmation of their undying loyalty and love for one another. The fact that they co-own a beautiful and thriving winery together, that they care for like a newborn child, creates an underlying story line that adds depth and a personality to this book.

As the story evolves you cannot help but sympathize and become loyal to Brynn’s character as she picks herself up in the face of adversity and overcomes her fears time and time again. Strand takes us on this rollercoaster ride full of intensity and, what seems like, a never ending plight that has so many twists and turns that the reader will begin to sit on the edge of their seat waiting for the next bombshell to drop.

Although the story is rife with love and loss, Strand cleverly weaves together a criminal plot that builds the readers’ desire to see the bad guy caught and the hot executive, Brynn, free of this villain once and for all.  Set in the beautiful landscape of Northern California this tale of passion and deceit leaves the reader satisfied knowing that the bad guy did get what they deserved and the brilliant winery owner and business exec Brynn Bancroft manages to overcome all the obstacles thrown in her path. I give this book a four stars and I cannot wait to read more from Strand.

Hilltop Sunset is available from:   Barnes & Noble

About Brynn Bancroft

Brynn Bancroft evolved from the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries where she served as Jillian’s manager while Chief Financial Officer of Harmonia Therapeutics in Silicon Valley. A shapely blonde with a MENSA IQ, she had an affair with the CEO of the company. Unfortunately for Brynn, the CEO’s wife figured out that the two were involved and asked Brynn to leave the company, which she agreed to do. In the meantime, her husband, Liam—not unfamiliar with extramarital affairs himself but also understanding that Brynn grew up in an abusive household- grew tired of waiting for Brynn to commit to their relationship and asked for a divorce. At the same time, he solicited her assistance in developing his new winery in Sonoma County, Calif. Much like Jillian–who does appear in the Brynn Bancroft mysteries–Brynn, too, attracts mystery and murders as she grows to enjoy life at her ex-husband’s Hilltop Sunset Winery.

Other Books Available


About the Author

Joyce Strand, much like her fictional character Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing articles and press releases and delivering presentations to publicize her companies.

Joyce has been a mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy stories as a teen-ager. She has always enjoyed the challenge of following clues to solve a mystery before it is revealed. Therefore Joyce relished the transition from writing press releases to writing fiction.

Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.   She lives with her two cats in Southern California near San Diego.

Follow the Author

Website,   Blog,   Facebook,   Twitter,   Pinterest   Goodreads

Follow the book tour

NOW FOR THE AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY   Hilltop Sunset Review and Giveaway Two lucky winners will win either a $50 Giftcard or Paypal Cash (winners choice)   Open Worldwide Ending on Sunday 21st December at 11.59pm EST   Enter Below and Good Luck !!

a Rafflecopter giveaway