Saturday, 23 December 2017

Just Like The Bronte Sisters by Laurel Osterkamp

Title: Just Like The Bronte Sisters
Author: Laurel Osterkamp
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Sisters Skylar and Jo Beth adore skiing and they virtually share the same soul. After an accident, Jo Beth flees to Brazil, leaving Skylar behind in Colorado to obsessively read the Brontë sisters. While abroad, Jo Beth meets Mitch and her life takes some unexpected turns, until tragedy leads free-spirited Mitch right into Skylar’s empty arms. With their Heathcliff/Catherine romance in full swing, Skylar wants to trust Mitch, but did he harm her sister? Loving Mitch could make Skylar lose everything. Just Like the Brontë Sisters is an unconventional romantic page-turner inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, full of magical realism, literary references, a ghost, and some healthy doses of suspense.


“She’s crying.”

“Huh?” I couldn’t orient myself or find my bearings as I woke in this foreign room to a foreign sound.

“Bijou is crying. You have to get her because I can’t.”

I fumbled around, patting my hands along the nightstand, trying to locate a lamp and switch it on. Finally, I gave up, got myself into sitting position, and put my feet on the floor. The trek to the nursery was short and lit by a nightlight, so that part was easy.

When I got there, I found Skylar standing on one leg over the bassinette, her crutches resting against the wall. She awkwardly leaned down in preparation for lifting Bijou up. Meanwhile, Bijou had switched from crying to angry screaming.

“Let me get her,” I said, and I handed Skylar her crutches so she could move out of the way. Then I picked up Bijou and held her, but that did nothing to stop her wailing.

“Do you think she’s hungry?” Skylar asked.


Skylar sat down in the rocking chair. “I can hold her while you go and prepare a bottle.”

“Okay.” I was unsure of the way down to the kitchen, and how I’d find the stuff to get a bottle ready once I was there. But I handed Skylar the baby and walked off like I knew what I was doing.

Actually, the kitchen was where I’d expected it to be, and when I flicked on the light there was Jo Beth, standing in the middle of the room like she’d been waiting for me.

“There’s the formula and the bottles,” she said, pointing to the counter where a bunch of baby stuff had been left out, probably by Elizabeth, so it could be found easily in the middle of the night. “Don’t forget to use warm water for the formula. Warm, but not hot.”

Was it possible to be this tired? I hadn’t slept on the plane and the hours before our trip were filled with life and death, but not with sleep. Every part of my body was heavy and it was incredible to imagine that I’d ever feel light again. “You woke me upstairs?” I said to Jo Beth.

“Yeah,” she replied. “Now are you going to make the bottle?”

I walked toward the counter where the baby stuff rested and I opened the can of formula. I let a sigh from deep inside escape while I dropped the milky white powder into the bottle.

“What’s your problem?” Jo Beth demanded.

“Nothing, I’m just tired.”

“So?” She floated over to my side and hovered next to me, her hands defiantly on her nonexistent hips. “Do you have any appreciation for the effort it took me to get here? I bet you don’t.”

“How could I?” I went to the sink, turned on the water, and stuck my finger into the stream of cold until it turned suitably warm. “I have no idea how you got here and I’m betting you’re not allowed to tell me.”

“You know I’ve never given a crap about rules. But you’re right; I can’t tell you because you wouldn’t get it.”

There was no arguing her point. If I couldn’t understand simple concepts, like how the universe could be created by a single burst of energy from a miniscule volume of space, or how it possibly rose like a phoenix from the dust of another, dearly departed universe, how could I ever comprehend Jo Beth’s existence or her journey to find Bijou and me?

“Okay,” I said simply.

Now it was Jo Beth’s turn to sigh, which she did as I tightened the lid onto the body of the bottle and shook it. Was she angry because I wasn’t arguing with her?

“Test the temperature on your wrist.” Jo Beth said.


“To make sure it’s not too hot.”

“But how hot is too hot?”

“It shouldn’t hurt.”

I looked at her; even as a ghost she was beautiful. “Can you feel pain anymore?”

Her eyelids pulled down for a moment, and then she silently shook her head no.

“But you can remember pain?” I asked.

“Of course.”

“I’m sorry if I contributed to your pain, Jo.”

She shook her head again. “Our daughter is crying. You should get upstairs.”

The bottle was ready, so I turned toward the stairs, toward the sound of little Bijou’s wails. But first I looked back at Jo Beth. “Will I see you again?”

She shrugged her ghostly shoulders. “Who knows?”

“What if I can’t live with that uncertainty?”

“You have too. Everyone does.”

I almost pointed out that she doesn’t have to live with uncertainty, that she doesn’t have to live with anything, not anymore. But I kept my mouth shut for fear of being insensitive and climbed the stairs to find Skylar rocking Bijou.

“I can take over,” I said.


We did the awkward dance of switching places, which included our handing the baby back and forth while she retrieved her crutches, and at one point Skylar had to lean on my shoulder while I held Bijou. Skylar looked so much like a younger, less angry Jo Beth, and she even held the same soapy scent.

“Thank you,” I said. I wanted to tell Skylar to stay, to sit with me, to not leave me alone. But right before those pleas escaped my mouth, I bit my tongue and managed not to beg. I put the bottle in Bijou’s mouth and instantly her screams stopped. Then the only sound in the room came from her sucking that rubber nipple.

“You were hungry, huh little girl?” I rocked Bijou, feeling that pull of devotion that they say always happens to mothers, but not necessarily to fathers. This delicate, strong creature, with her paper-thin eyelids, silky hair, and strong grip around my index finger: I knew that if necessary, I’d kill for her.

I could live with any other uncertainty, but Bijou had to be okay.

Author Bio:

Laurel Osterkamp is a Kindle Scout/award-winning author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her “day job” is as at Columbia Heights High School, where she teaches creative writing, college writing, and AP Lit. She resides in Minneapolis with her husband, two chatty children, an overweight cat, a gecko, and a hissing cockroach (don’t ask). Her other loves include chocolate, jogging, and boots.

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