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December 14, 2019

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison ~ an Excerpt

Today, we have an excerpt from J.T. Ellison's new psychological thriller Good Girls Lie.
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December 2019; MIRA; 978-0778309185
audio, ebook, print (464 pages); thrillers
Chapter 5


Dr. Ford Julianne Westhaven watches from the attics as her girls arrive for term. She loves it up here. When she attended the school, she was desperate for a glimpse into the seniors’ hall, for an invite to the forbidden level. As the ultimate legacy, she thought it was her right. But traditions are traditions, and the only time she’d been allowed, up until her own senior year, was blindfolded, being dragged up the wrong set of stairs during a secret society tap.

The room is cozy. The windows overlook the Blue Ridge Mountains on one side and down the mountain to the green valley on the other. If she could set up her permanent office here, she would. Instead, she uses it for escapes during the day when she doesn’t have the time to flee to her cottage on the grounds.

She knows she has to go down and greet the classes, is excited, in her way, but turning herself from a months-long private life to a public one always takes a toll. She is at heart an introvert, has to force herself to smile and laugh and participate in her own world. Being continually thrust in front of the microphone as the mentor to two hundred impressionable young women is alternately terror-inducing and exhausting. She is expected to speak at every opening convocation, every graduation, and several times in between. She is their lodestone, their shining light, their leader.

Ford aspires to be a novelist, not headmistress to a band of brilliant young girls. Oh, she knew she would take over the school eventually, but hadn’t planned to be doing this in her thirties. She assumed she’d step in once her mother was too infirm to handle the school, that she’d have a full, laudable writing career first.

But her mother screwed up everything, so instead, here Ford is, hiding in the attics, dreading the start of term as she has the past nine autumns. She can hear Jude’s voice echoing through the chambers of her mind.

It is expected of you, Ford. It is your role in life to be the dean of this school, as I and your grandmother and hers were before you.

Ford doesn’t like doing what is expected of her. And yet, she does it anyway.

A Westhaven has held the top position since the school opened, in the early 1800s, as an Episcopal-run home for wayward girls. Girls who needed to disappear. Girls who’d disgraced themselves and their families. Girls who would have otherwise ended up in bawdy houses, as prostitutes, or worse. Decidedly not Goode girls.

Ford’s namesake was a nun who served the school when it opened in 1805. Sister Julianne was a radical who thought all women should be educated. She felt the poor, lost girls of Virginia who found their way to Marchburg needed to serve a purpose and started teaching them to read and write. Quietly, stealthily, she turned the ones who were capable of change into ladies. Some even managed to return to Virginia society, though most moved west and started over under new names. The illegitimate children were adopted out or put into service at the plantations in the area.

The school’s mission changed in the late–nineteenth century, when Sister Julianne, then Mother Julianne, ancient and bent, stubborn still, was given a gift. One hundred thousand dollars from the father of her own illegitimate daughter, bestowed to them upon his death. With this absolute fortune, she bought the school outright, a legacy for her child.

All girls who entered the gates were good, in her mind, no matter the sin they’d committed. She, too, was capable of sin. She changed the name of the school to reflect this opinion and created a new mandate—the school would take in needy girls and turn them into governesses and schoolteachers. Her descendants would run it, using the Westhaven name. The name of her illicit lover.

Soon enough, The Goode School, as it was known, became a destination for young women who wanted to break free of societal norms. Goode gave the girls who landed there a chance at an extraordinary life, a contradiction to anything they’d been taught or thought before.

Buy Good Girls Lie at Amazon

About the Book

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets

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  1. I'm so excited for this one and all of these excerpts are the worst kind of tease! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours