Book Review: The Door at the Top of the Stairs by Alison Naomi Holt

  • Publisher: Alison Holt Books
  • Available in: eBook, Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-60910-271-5
  • Available: August 31, 2010


The book begins when Jesse Shaunessy wanders onto Morgan Davis' horse farm and asks for a job.  Their strong personalities immediately clash and we're certain Jesse won't last an hour as an employee of Morgan Davis.  But thanks to the perceptiveness and intuition of Morgan's partner, Dr. Ryland Caldwell, a retired psychologist, Jesse manages to hold on to her job.

Settled into her new routine, Jesse is brought in to help with the fox hunts which Morgan runs on her farm.  A terrifying incident with Jesse during the hunt leads Morgan and Ryland to find horrible scars on Jesse's back.  The scars combined with Jesse's anger management issues and other bizarre and frightening behavior lead Ryland to the conclusion that, without her expertise in helping victims of PTSD, Jesse will not survive.

I initially purchased this book several years ago and started reading it but didn't finish it.  Now that I've finished reading the book, I know I didn't put it down previously due to any lack of enthusiasm for the story.  I must have just gotten distracted. Thankfully, I was reacquainted with the book when I saw it displayed on the cover image for the Lesbian Books, writers, readers group on Facebook.  I'm very happy I finally finished this book.

The button pushing conflicts between Morgan and Jesse are generally more humorous than uncomfortable.  At least for those of us looking in on them.  I'm sure Morgan and Jesse feel differently about the conflicts.

Ryland's work with Jesse and the way in which she involves Morgan is believable and the detail is quite painful at times.  The bonds that grow between these women are a testament to the power and strength of women when we support each other.

I thought it was unusual that Alison referred to the relationship between Morgan and Ryland so often throughout the book as friendship when they were clearly lovers and partners and not trying to hide it from anyone on the farm or in the small community.  It didn't detract from the book.  It was just a uniqueness that caught my eye.

I would like to have seen Alison include more detail on Jesse's police department and details of her retirement from the point of view of a colleague on the force.

This book was well written with a compelling and engaging plot.  I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction between Jesse and Morgan and the evolution of the relationship between Morgan and Jesse as well as Jesse and the people of the small town. I'm really happy Morgan and Ryland didn't give up on Jesse and Jesse didn't give up on them.

Alison Naomi Holt I give you five stars for The Door at the Top of the Stairs.  The hope this book demonstrates for anyone suffering from PTSD is inspirational.  And it is yet another example within our community just how powerful choosing family can be.

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Darla Baker

I'm not a sex therapist. I just play one in books. After thirty years in technology providing therapy to unsuspecting software and systems engineers, she's now counseling fictional people as a fictional sex therapist in the Thalia Chase: Sex Therapist series.


I'm not a sex therapist. I just play one in books. After thirty years in technology providing therapy to unsuspecting software and systems engineers, she's now counseling fictional people as a fictional sex therapist in the Thalia Chase: Sex Therapist series.