45 pages 1 hour read

Jeneva Rose

You Shouldn't Have Come Here

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

First released in 2023, You Shouldn’t Have Come Here is a mystery-thriller written by New York Times bestselling author Jeneva Rose. As is characteristic of Rose’s fiction, the novel features a strong female protagonist and complex relationships—in this case, explored through dual first-person narrators. Though it builds to a violent ending characteristic of a thriller, it also contains elements of romance: When banker Grace Evans books a 10-day stay at the ranch Airbnb of handsome Calvin Wells outside Dubois, Wyoming, their romance leads to deadly revelations.

This guide is based on the 2023 Blackstone Publishing hardcover edition.

Content Warning: The novel depicts and mentions murder (including a graphic kill by knife and a murder-suicide), violent nightmares, severed human heads, animal death and remains, and domestic abuse.

Plot Summary

As New York banker Grace Evans drives through Dubois, Wyoming, on her way to a 10-day stay at a ranch Airbnb, she stops at a self-serve gas station. She feels threatened by the attendant, who approaches her as she fuels her car. At the ranch, the handsome host introduces himself as Calvin Wells. Grace feels uneasy because she has no cell service or internet connection. Calvin shows her to her room, his home decorated with taxidermized animal heads. As she unpacks, she sees women’s underwear in her dresser and a cracked window with a streak of blood. Calvin explains a previous guest caused the crack, and the underwear belongs to his deceased girlfriend Lisa. He prepares dinner, and Grace reveals she takes an extended trip every year to regain a sense of freedom.

The next morning, Calvin recommends that Grace purchase clothes that she won’t mind getting dirty, offering lessons in horseback riding and fishing. Later, her car shows a check engine light, and he volunteers his mechanic brother, Joe, to repair it. She wakes up in the middle of the night to a woman’s scream, and wonders if it was a nightmare. Grace asks Calvin about the scream, and he says it was probably a fox. When he takes her fishing, his friend Charlotte Miller interrupts. Grace goes for a run and stumbles into a pit filled with dead animals, but Calvin rescues her. At a riverbank after dark, the pair go skinny dipping.

The next morning, Calvin takes Grace horseback riding. Her horse ignores her commands and begins to gallop, causing her to fall. Calvin takes her to Dr. Reed, the community physician. He suggests an MRI because Grace has trouble remembering important information, but she refuses. Later, Calvin takes her to a grocery store where they encounter Charlotte, who reminds him of his birthday party on Saturday. That night, Grace dreams of Calvin’s taxidermized animals attacking her. He wakes her with wine and chocolate. As he gives her a back rub, new County Sheriff Almond arrives. He shows the pair a photograph of a missing woman, a previous ranch guest. Calvin reports Briana Becker never showed up.

The next morning, Calvin’s younger brother Joe arrives and says Grace’s car will take two days to fix. That evening, the three go to a tavern where Charlotte also joins. Calvin sees Grace slap Joe, and punches Joe himself. Calvin then drives an inebriated Charlotte home. Grace asks Calvin about Joe’s history, but he refuses to share.

The next morning, Grace is still upset over the previous night. Calvin offers to refund her if she wants to leave, but her car is still in need of repair. He offers to cancel his birthday party, but she agrees to stay. That afternoon, the pair kiss but are interrupted by Joe, claiming he was too drunk to remember the previous night; still, he apologizes to Grace. Later, she meets Wyatt, a deputy and Charlotte’s ex-husband. After the birthday party, Calvin takes Grace to a pasture where they make love. He then reveals his parents died in a fire, and that his girlfriend Lisa died in a car accident in which Joe drove drunk (and was punished with six months in prison).

The next morning, Grace wakes in the pasture to the feeling of being watched. As a mountain lion pounces, Calvin shoots it. Covered with the lion’s blood, Grace heads to the house to shower, followed by Calvin. They encounter Sheriff Almond, who walks them back to the pasture to see the lion for himself. He again asks Calvin if he remembers seeing Briana because police found her car near the ranch. Later, Grace encounters an elderly man whom Calvin introduces as Albert, another guest staying in the room next to hers. Charlotte arrives to tell Grace that she and Calvin had a fling; Grace reveals she slept with him the previous night. That night, a drunken Albert climbs into bed with Grace and she demands that Calvin put a lock on her door.

The next morning, Grace wakes to Calvin installing the lock. Albert apologizes for the previous night, and she notices his medical bracelet—which lists many allergies. Later, Wyatt arrives and punches Calvin. He saw a gash on Charlotte’s head, and Grace reveals Charlotte slept with Joe (in addition to Calvin), causing Wyatt to leave. She persuades Calvin to get alcohol with Albert, and Joe arrives, badly beaten and drunk. He says Wyatt attacked him because Calvin said he slept with Charlotte (without revealing his own fling with her). He then attempts to burn down the house. Grace calls 911 via landline, but Calvin arrives first, hitting Joe with a fire extinguisher and putting out the fire. Joe confronts Calvin, claiming their mother shot their father, then herself. Almond arrives, and Joe confesses he started the fire. Almond interviews Grace and recommends that she leave the ranch; she plans to do so in two days. She sees Calvin leave in his truck and takes the opportunity to break into his basement. She finds a photograph that reveals Albert is Calvin and Joe’s uncle. Grace also locates a guestbook, and its last signature is the missing Briana. She takes Calvin’s hunting knife and sees Betty, his surrogate mother, outside in her nightgown. Betty tells Grace that she should not have come. Grace realizes her bedroom lock is positioned backward.

The next morning, Calvin tells Grace that Joe spent the night in jail due to his arson; Albert has since disappeared. Grace asks Calvin to fix her lock, and he reports another mechanic will fix her car that evening. She confronts him about the guestbook, which he produces without Briana’s name. When Betty arrives with new curtains, she checks her beehives and sees the body of Albert—who was allergic to bees. Grace and Calvin’s last night together is awkward, and she dreams of him tying her to a bed and slowly eviscerating her with a knife.

When Calvin wakes, Grace has almost finished packing. He drinks two cups of her (drugged) coffee, and when she tries to start her car, it does not run. He grabs and drags her, and she bites his finger and runs into the house. Calvin tracks Grace to his bedroom before being incapacitated by her drugs. She interrogates him, and he admits he caused the accident that killed his girlfriend Lisa and that the missing Briana is alive in a nearby shed. She uses Calvin’s hunting knife to kill him. Grace discovers the taxidermized heads of previous female guests in his closet, with a space reserved for her own. She sets the house on fire, then locates and frees Briana—but drives away alone. She returns to the gas station, finding that the attendant kept her driver’s license and knows her real name is Avery Adams. Avery thanks him for returning the license, then sets the station on fire.

Avery returns to her home in Chicago. Her husband and two children believe she has been on a relaxing retreat near Seattle. Since her daughter resembles her, she considers taking her on a future trip.

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