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  • Bonnie Randall

The Cast of Within The Summit's Shadow - Meet Elizabeth McBrien

Once upon a time, she was Andrew's best friend - yet when he sees her again he does not even know her. His reaction is the first sentence I wrote for this book. Listen:

'...he looked then, to where Beth stood under Dezilla guard. He still did not fully recognize her. That fat field mouse who once couldn’t walk without tripping over her own shoes wasn’t even a glimmer of memory in this regal creature’s eyes. Time had not just been kind. It had been magic. His eyes clung to the places her dress, some kind of starlight colour, clung to. Ah, irony, he thought. You are such a prick.

Their gazes locked and his heart skipped. But then her eyes slid to his bruises and he read her expression. Satisfaction. Then dismissal.

She turned, floated away on feet that looked like they’d never so much as stubbed an elegant toe much less tripped.

My, my Bethie. Of all the things he thought he’d feel when he saw her again, pissed off had never made the script. ‘It’s good to see you’ had. ‘I’m sorry’ definitely had. But the need to tell her she was a haughty bitch?

Oh, yeah. He cocked a brow as her perfect heart-shaped ass glided away and, plucking stemware from a passing tray, he took Violet’s advice, followed his ghost....'

To say Elizabeth's relationship with Andrew is turbulent is putting it lightly. At fifteen, Elizabeth would have left their hometown in the Rocky Mountains anyway, courted as she was by a prestigious performing arts school in the city. But due to Andrew's treatment of her, she did not just leave - she fled, and now years have passed since they've seen each other, despite having once been inseparable.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth - a prodigious classical guitarist, Kyle King's de facto parent, and a late-blooming beauty - still knows Andrew better than anyone, and while she's desperate to guard her heart against falling (again) for the 'sullen town loner', the magnetic pull between them is far stronger than her will. Elizabeth is not shy and awkward anymore, but in the vicinity of Drew Gavin she is frighteningly vulnerable - and this makes her want to flee all over again.

And yet...Elizabeth is wholly unaware that Andrew is far more vulnerable in her presence than she is within his. He can scarcely string a sentence together when she's near, even though he aches to say just two tiny words: "I'm sorry".

Elizabeth's tenderness, compassion, and ability to coax beauty out of the most unlikely places is enchanting...and not just to Andrew. The Dead Boy is obsessed with Elizabeth - so much so, he is able to pull her straight out of her sleep in the dead of the night and strip her on the side of the mountain. Encounters that leave her breathless and deeply shamed: he is not just a stranger who won't show her his face - he is also a teenager.

If Andrew's journey within this book is one of self-discovery, then Elizabeth's is one of self challenge; for the beliefs she has held, and the beliefs she holds, may not, in fact, be accurate....

Pictured above is the lovely (and, I'd suspect, quite enchanting) Rosie Huntington-Whitely, the physical reference for Elizabeth, and in the gown I envision Elizabeth wearing when she performs and Shaynie & Cameron's wedding.

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