Book Review: The Night the Lights Went Out By Karen White

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Title: The Night the Lights Went Out

Author: Karen White

Publisher: Berkley

On the shelves: reprint, March 27, 2018

Format: trade paperback

Genre: Southern women’s fiction

Price: $16.00 US

Pages: 406 pages and a reader’s guide/preview of Dreams of Falling

Setting: Sweet Apple, Georgia 2016

 

After Merilee Talbot Dunlap’s husband decided to leave his wife for his daughter’s math teacher, Merilee has no other choice but to move on and make the best life possible for their children, Lily and Colin.

She packs their belongings in the minivan and heads to Sweet Apple, Georgia where she’ll rent a craftsman cottage behind Sugar Prescott’s farmhouse. Sugar is 93 years old, smart, observant and not afraid to say what’s on her mind. Though Sugar is one to keep to herself, she becomes close with Merilee and her children, but won’t let them know. She prefers sarcasm and distance for good reason. Mainly because it hurts too much to lose the ones you love.

Throughout the book both Sugar and Merilee’s perspectives are revealed. For Sugar, its flashbacks of the difficult times of her life and there are many. Her family owned property and managed to pay for farm workers. They manage to survive the Depression and helped other families. Some people needed more help than others. Some were pure evil and preyed on the innocent. One of the special people in her life was her brother, Jimmy, whose birth left him somewhat disabled and a further encounter took away his independence. Her mother’s depression was difficult for them all.

Merilee struggles to make ends meet and to fit in with the other mothers at her children’s school. She is nothing like them. Think Stepford wives, but instead of it being a man wanting perfection and control, it’s a class mom.

Throughout the book, a blogger anonymously reviews the actions of the residents in the community and gives an opinion without being preachy. I would think it’s the blogger’s way of making them more aware of what’s happening and to get them to think more appropriately.

There is something darker at the story’s core. Eventually, all things are revealed, whether they are buried in the past or pop up unexpected in our present.

The Night the Lights Went Out reaches two generations of women showing that you don’t have to be related, you just have to care about another human being. Everyone has the capability to love and an inner strength. But what happens in the past can take on a life of its own and control you if you don’t stop it.

Four cold glasses of Southern sweet tea

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

August 15, 2018

Denise Fleischer

 

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It Isn’t Easy Being Royal, A Blog Post By Rhys Bowen

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It isn’t easy being royal!

So often I meet someone who says that Britain should get rid of the royal family. They take public money to live a life of luxury and do nothing for it. This really does make my hackles rise because most members of the family work very hard. The queen, now aged 92, had over 300 public engagements last year. That’s almost one a day! Some days she has more than one public appearance. She’ll travel several hours to a town, tour a school, hospital or factory, have people presented to her, sometimes have to have lunch with them, then drive on to another event. This doesn’t sound too tiring until you try it. She can never look bored or yawn, always seem fascinated by people who make nuts and bolts, never smile when something serious is happening. She knows the paparazzi are waiting for that one moment to catch her out. And just think how long she has to go between visits to the ladies room!

I only really appreciated what the royals have to do when I started being sent on book tours. Flying into a city, being picked up by an escort, driven to other stores, maybe TV or radio interview and then the bookstore speech in the evening. You never get a proper meal because you leave for the bookstore at 5:30 and come back after nine, too tired to eat. And you have to be, like the queen, ON every moment. Gracious to a line of people who have taken the trouble to come and meet you. And after a couple of weeks of this I’m exhausted. But the poor old royals do it all year round!

My heroine, Lady Georgiana, is only a very minor royal. Not close enough to the throne to represent her monarch, King George V. But life is complicated for her by her royal connections. For starters… she wants to marry a Catholic. This is not allowed for any member in the line of succession. This rule remained in effect until literally a couple of years ago! So Georgie has to renounce her claim to the throne if she wants to marry her sweetheart Darcy. But this is not a hard decision for her. As she says, it would take a particularly virulent plague to wipe out all those between her and the throne!

However, there are other complications for her: she wants a simple wedding. The queen lets it be known that of course she and the king expect to be invited. What’s more the little princesses would be thrilled to be bridesmaids. Oh, protocol demands that Georgie invite her relatives from among the crowned heads of Europe. Golly! as Georgie would say! The simple wedding is rapidly turning into something akin to Harry and Meghan’s.  So the question is whether Georgie can get her own way and keep the occasion the way she wants it or will she find herself walking down the aisle of a cathedral with crowned heads on either side of her? And that is if someone doesn’t manage to bump her off first. You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Gotta Read: Our House by Louise Candlish

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9780451489111ABOUT OUR HOUSE

From an internationally acclaimed author, a disturbing and addictive novel of domestic suspense where secrets kept hidden from spouses cause shocking surprises that hit home…

There’s nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it’s her house. And she didn’t sell it.

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

ABOUT LOUISE CANDLISH

Louise Candlish attended University College London and worked as an editor in art publishing and as a copywriter before becoming a novelist. She lives with her husband and daughter.

PRAISE

Praise for Our House

“[A] superb thriller…the ending Candlish has devised is devastating.”—The Washington Post

“An artfully plotted, affecting page-turner…a truly killer climax.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Candlish is skilled at portraying families in critical situations and ramping up the suspense…An absorbing plot with surprising twists until the final page.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“[A] twisty domestic thriller that features everything readers enjoy about the genre: dark secrets, unreliable narrators, a fast-moving plot, and a terrifyingly plausible premise. This could be summer’s breakout hit.”—Booklist (starred review)

“I loved the wonderful hook of Our House, which plays with our modern obsession with property—and the vulnerability that exposes. Louise Candlish is a great writer; she inhaled me into her nightmarish world where everything we think we know is ripped from under our feet.”—Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

“[A] masterfully plotted, compulsive page-turner.”—The Guardian

“The last line will make you literally shout with shock.”—Good Housekeeping

“A delightful disturbing story about marriage and secrets.”—BookRiot

“[An] addictive portrayal of how lives can unravel…. A compulsive story with a final flourish in the form of a delicious sting in the tale–one of this year’s must-reads.”—Sunday Mirror

“Candlish is an expert on the psychological flaws of these types of couples, and she doesn’t shrink from posing uncomfortable questions about modern marriage. This very original storyline is a winner.”—The Daily Mail

“If 2018 brings a better book than Our House I will eat my hat. Addictive, twisty, and oh so terrifyingly possible.”—Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author of I Let You Go

“A high-stakes domestic thriller that is utterly absorbing. Twists and turns abound, and Our House will have you locking your doors and checking your windows.”—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of Not a Sound

“Absolutely brilliant. It has bestseller written all over it.”—Kate Furnivall, New York Times bestselling author of The Betrayal
 
“Dark, timely and full of surprises, Our House is a truly captivating novel of domestic suspense….A true binge-read. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.”—Alison Gaylin, USA Today bestselling author of If I Die Tonight

“Twisty, warped, credible. Brilliantly plotted and compelling.”—Sarah Vaughan, author of Anatomy of a Scandal

“Yesterday I missed my stop on the train because I was so absorbed in Our House. I am in awe of the twisty, clever plot and gasped out loud at the last paragraph.”—Erin Kelly, author of He Said, She Said

Guest Blog Post – Cats of the Past: The Muses of Cozy Fiction by Julia Buckley

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There’s never been a time in my life when I didn’t have a cat companion, and the cats of my past have certainly inspired the references to cats in my fiction.

In my childhood, there was Midnight, the defiant and mysterious black feline who ruled our suburban street and enjoyed sunbathing in the middle of the thoroughfare, much to the chagrin of motorists. Midnight knew the limits of the dog’s leash, and he would wash a casual paw just a few inches beyond the dog’s reach because that’s what cats do. On one occasion the dog, Buffy, managed to pull the tether out of the ground, and she ran at Midnight, her tormenter. Midnight shot straight up into the air, and Buffy ran under him, and then stood, confused, not sure where the cat had gone. Despite his toughness in the neighborhood, Midnight was a cozy cuddler, and we all competed for his love. When he entered the room in the evening, it was suddenly a contest. Whose lap would he choose? When we were chosen, we felt truly superior to the others, because it was a significant thing to be selected by Midnight.

Max

Later, there was Max, a beautiful gray and white kitten. Because our family couldn’t decide on a name for him, we combined all his names in one: Baron Maximilian Frederick Sebastian Von Tinkel Klaus III—but we just called him Max.

Max was an amazing, beautiful, curious kitten. He was so friendly anyone could pick him up, and sometimes he sat on my shoulder like a bird. He was my mother’s favorite. Back then (the 1970s) everyone let their cats outside, and if I could go back in time I would make him an indoor cat because he died young (seven months) after getting hit by a car. Forty some years later I still remember what a great cat he was.

After Max, my mother wanted no other cats, but a few years later, giving in to my longing for a feline companion, my parents got me a cat for Christmas, and we named her Holly Mistletoe. She was a sweet little orange cat who grew into a sort of cantankerous adult, but she had an amazing creative talent that I’ve never seen in another cat. When we would go out, we’d give her a ball of yarn to play with. When we came back, we would arrive to find a splendid, multi-level yarn labyrinth that often covered an entire room. She would hold the ball in her mouth, jump up somewhere, loop her yarn around, then jump down. She’d do this over and over; it was almost like weaving, and the results were magical. I wish we had taken pictures, but instant cameras weren’t a thing then and we never bothered to capture her creations for posterity.

darkpic2jpgCato and Clouseau

When I got married and moved into my first apartment, I knew that I wanted cats of my own. I convinced my husband, who had never had pets, to go with me to the shelter and select a couple of kittens who could keep each other company. We came home with two lovely gray tabbies that we named Cato and Clouseau because they kept attacking each other the way Inspector Clouseau and his friend Kato attacked on another in the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies. These two were a delight from the moment we got them, full of mischief and very loving to one another. This was back in the eighties (which partially explains my hair), so of course these sweet boys are no longer with us, but we think of them all the time!

Kahlua

Our final cat of the past entered our lives very unexpectedly. We lived in a very small apartment with the two guys mentioned above, and one day when I went into the hallway, bound for work, I found a kitten walking around and meowing. I petted her but left her alone, thinking she must have snuck out of someone’s apartment and not been discovered missing yet (how else would she have gotten on the third floor of a locked apartment building?

When I got home that afternoon, the poor little cat was still in the hall, mewing and obviously hungry. This infuriated me, so I took her into my apartment. She marched straight to the bowls of my male cats and started eating. She was a very pretty calico, and obviously just a few months old. I called my husband and explained that, at least for the time being, we had a third cat.

I put up signs all over the building, telling people to come and claim their kitten, and no one ever did. My husband’s theory is that some little boys in our building found the cat somewhere, brought it home, and then put it out when their parents said no cats. But we’re just not sure how she ended up in our hall. I was angry at the way she’d been mistreated, so I didn’t feel bad at all for keeping her safe in our apartment. When we brought her to the vet, we found she had ear mites and worms, another sign for me that she had not been cared for and had probably been brought in off the street.

So she became our Kahlua, a lovely calico cat and a true friend to the two tabbies we already had. (That’s all three of them with my husband in the slightly blurry photo below).

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So—those were the cats of my past. Stay tuned for my next post on Gotta Write Network with an update about cozy cats of the present!

Thanks for reading my animal stories.

–Julia Buckley

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ABOUT JULIA BUCKLEY

Julia Buckley is a Chicago author and teacher. A lover of mysteries herself, she spent her teen years absorbing the wonderful mystery and suspense fiction of the 20th Century, all of which helped to influence what she writes today. Her published series include the Writer’s Apprentice mysteries, the Undercover Dish mysteries, the first in the Teddy Thurber series, and the Madeline Mann mysteries. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and the Chicago Writer’s Association.

Julia lives with her husband, three cats and a big rambunctious Labrador. She has two grown sons. In her free time she likes to watch Netflix (on which she has discovered the joy of French cinema), tend to the potted plants on her deck, read great books, or take part in one of her two book groups.  Her latest book is “A Dark and Twisting Path.”

 

Interview request and new title: Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

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ABOUT SCANDAL ABOVE STAIRS

From the New York Times bestselling author of Death Below Stairs

A mystery of stolen antiquities has Kat Holloway setting aside her apron once again for the intrigues of the upper echelons of Victorian London

Priceless artwork has gone missing from the home of a wealthy baronet, and his wife stands to take the blame. When Kat’s employer asks for help in clearing her friend’s name, Kat trades her kitchen for the homes of Mayfair’s wealthiest families. Soon antiques are disappearing not only from the extravagant households of connoisseurs and collectors, but from the illustrious British Museum.

As the thefts increase in frequency, Kat calls upon her friend Daniel McAdam, who has already set himself up in a pawnshop on the Strand as a seedy receiver of stolen goods. When a man is murdered in the shop, Kat must use all of her wits to see that the thieves are caught and justice is done.

ABOUT JENNIFER ASHLEY

Jennifer Ashley is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shifters Unbound series and the Mackenzies series. A winner of a Romance Writers of America RITA Award, she also writes as national bestselling and award-winning author…

More about Jennifer Ashley

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Gotta Write Network is now scheduling interviews with big press, small press and self published authors. Let’s not forget poets. Fill out the form below and email it to Netera@aol.com along with a jpg of your book cover and an author photo. Make sure you provide a summary about your latest book or published poetry and media info. I don’t have time to interview everyone, but will try to work with as many as I can.

D. Fleischer

copy and paste this info in an email:

Author’s name:

State or country you reside in:

Publisher:

Book you want to promote:

Date you’d like to be featured:

Would you like a press release posted instead of an interview?

**Note to publishers: Feel free to put me on your mailing list. I’m currently open to adding big press publishers for review opportunities. I will also post press releases. Denise Fleischer – Netera@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

New Title: Dyeing Up Loose Ends By Maggie Sefton

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Dyeing Up Loose Ends by Maggie Sefton, Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover, July 3, 2018, $26.00)

ABOUT DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS

Kelly Flynn has been enjoying motherhood and avoiding murder, but when a friend’s life is cut short, she enlists the Lambspun knitters to catch a heartless killer in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Only Skein Deep.

Kelly is happily busy with her son, Jack, now a rambunctious four-year-old preschooler. Jack keeps his mom on her toes and drinking all the coffee she can handle at Pete’s Porch Café. Kelly’s friendly waitress Julie is hoping to become an accountant. She makes sure she keeps Kelly caffeinated and up-to-date on her career progress.

Kelly splits her free time between Pete’s and Lambspun, where her fellow knitters love hearing all about Jack’s latest exploits. They’ve also been taking a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about crimes that Kelly had a hand in solving over the years. But the Lambspun crew is horrified when a very present-day murder occurs in their midst—and Julie is the victim.

With her sleuthing instincts on full alert, Kelly starts asking questions. The well-liked waitress may have had enemies no one knew about, or she could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kelly and her friends at Lambspun soon learn that the answers are knottier and more shocking than they ever

Book Review: Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax

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Title: Best Beach Ever

Author: Wendy Wax

Publisher: Berkley

On the shelves: May 2018

Format: Trade paperback

Genre: Women’s fiction/contemporary

Price: $16.00

Pages: 385

This is a great book. I don’t usually offer my opinion first, but I loved the characters and all their life challenges and was sorry that it ended.

I’m coming in late to the Ten Beach Road series simply because most of the books I read are introduced to me through publisher book review requests. Though I got this one in e-book form, I actually received it as a Mother’s Day gift.

Best Beach Ever opens with these inseparable friends trying to deal with difficult issues. It tackles being taken advantage of, torn between being a mother and a partner, motherhood vs. career, Hollywood craziness (which is actually the norm) and not giving up because happiness isn’t out of reach.

The women worked closely in bringing a manor back from the brink of ruin during a reality TV renovation. Their projects appear to be what empowered their friendship.

Nicole was a A-list matchmaker who met special agent, Joe Giraldi, when he was trying to catch her brother, Malcolm, who was involved in a 3 million-dollar Ponzi scheme. They married and now have twin daughters. Joe works hard to stop crime and is often on the road leaving Nicole alone to raise the girls. He’s hoping to convince her that she needs a nanny and he has the perfect one in mind. Other than being a mom, Nicole needs a challenge to feel content in life.

Madeline Singer is a friend, mother and grandmother. She’s also loved by a musician from the past whose career has been rekindled. She is the pillar of strength that supports not only her family’s lives, but her friends’ lives, as well.

Her daughter, Kyra, is a single mom forced into having her son act in a dark movie. Daniel, who is Dustin’s father, is a popular actor now trying to fill the role as a Hollywood director. Making it difficult is that Kyra and her son had to move out of their home because of financial strain and Dustin meets his father’s family and can’t understand why he’s not part of their lives.

Bitsy Baynard is a former heiress, now living in a one-bedroom cottage thanks to her money- stealing husband who ran off. She’s pretty much living with the fact that there’s nothing she can do to recover her money and divorce her husband until fate steps in.

Avery is an architect who loves a friend she’s known for years. His family problems pushed them apart now they have to decide if they can become a couple and trust once more.

I’ve wanted to read a Wendy Wax book for a while now. I already started collecting them from library book sales. What drew me into this book is the unique sisterhood. They watch out for each other, help get a friend over a mentally and physically exhausting experience, motive each other to pursue goals and relationships, provide a hug when desperately needed and they aren’t afraid to say what’s on their mind. I think Wax handles real issues well, presents women realistically and isn’t afraid to make them human. Would love to be invited to one of their sunset toasts.

Five sunset toasts

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

July 15, 2018

 

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Title Summary for Poisoned Pages by Lorna Barrett

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9780451489838ABOUT POISONED PAGES

Mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles learns that nothing kills a good party like a murder in the latest entry in the New York Times bestselling Booktown Mysteries.

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, throws a housewarming cocktail party in her new apartment and has cooked all the food by herself–quite a feat for someone who previously couldn’t boil water. Then one of her guests is poisoned and dies. Tricia’s left to wonder if her cooking is to blame or if there’s something much more sinister at play. Either way, Tricia’s once again in hot water with her ex-lover, Chief Baker.

Meanwhile the charming town of Stoneham is being disrupted by a vandalism crime wave. It’s the hot topic in the race for Chamber of Commerce president which sees Tricia pitted against two bitter rivals. With all that’s going on can she find the killer before she’s the next item on the menu?

Bibliophile Appetizer Recipe: Crispy Tipsy Mini Mushroom Books

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By Kate Carlisle, author of BURIED IN BOOKS

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Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved books. I don’t mean just reading; I mean that I have loved books as objets d’art. When other kids were going to summer camp, I was taking bookbinding classes at the library.

So when I set out to write a traditional mystery series, it made perfect sense for me to tap into my passion for books. San Francisco Bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright solves murders that are linked to a rare book in her care, and each modern-day mystery echoes the themes of that rare book. It’s a puzzle within a mystery, as readers look for those echoed themes.

It makes plotting the Bibliophile Mysteries so much fun!

In Buried in Books, my latest Bibliophile Mystery, a library convention has come to town the week before Brooklyn’s wedding. (Inspired by the enthusiastic fangirl librarians at the American Library Association annual conference, which I attended a few years ago. Book nerds—my people!) I put those together—wedding, library convention—and decided to come up with some recipes for book-shaped appetizers. You’ll find printable versions of these recipes in the Secret Room at KateCarlisle.com. (Plus main dish and drink recipes in Buried in Books itself.) These would be the perfect appetizers to serve at book club!

mushrooms5This recipe takes some advance planning because it will take a while for the phyllo dough (aka fillo dough) to thaw.mushrooms1

Dice the mushroom finely and sauté in butter. Mushrooms get quite watery as they cook. You need to keep cooking them over medium-low heat until most of this moisture evaporates, about 15 minutes. Then add the garlic for about a minute, then add the wine and thyme. (At my house, it’s always wine time! Snork!!!) You’ll continue cooking until the mixture is dry, about 10 minutes longer.

Phyllo dough is fragile. As you work with each sheet, cover the rest of the roll with plastic wrap and a slightly damp paper towel. On a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, place a single sheet of phyllo dough. Brush delicately with olive oil. (I used garlic-flavored olive oil.) Add another sheet on top, trying to line up the edges as best you can. Repeat until you have a stack of 5 sheets, each brushed with olive oil.

About an inch from each edge, carefully spoon a row of mushrooms down the length of the phyllo. You’re going to fold the edges toward the center to make two sets of books.

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Cut the rows apart with kitchen shears, then cut each row into five books. This will give you 10 mini mushroom books from each stack of 5 sheets of phyllo dough. Bake at 350 until golden brown and crispy, 10-12 minutes. Makes 40.

 

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Book Review – My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

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Title: My Husband’s Wife

Author: Jane Corry

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Date on the shelf: Jan. 31, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Setting: London, England

Read the e-book ARC version

Death is the first thing that you’re introduced to in Jane Corry’s thriller, “My Husband’s Wife.”  The reader is then transported fifteen years into the past to set the story in motion.

Having spent their honeymoon in Italy, it’s now time for Ed and Lily to begin married life. Ed is in advertising, but he wishes to be an artist. Lily had worked in employment law, assisting mostly women who have been fired. Now comes a greater challenge, that of criminal law. Her first client is Joe Thomas, who allegedly murdered his girlfriend by burning her in the bathtub. Talk about difficult, Thomas wants an appeal and everything points to his being guilty, but she’s got to prove the opposite in a court of law.

If that wasn’t a big enough challenge, an Italian neighbor needs someone responsible to watch her young daughter. Carla is a loner and bullied because of her looks, but there’s something dark about her. This is shown through her need to steal.  She shares her mother’s attention with “Larry.”

Following Lily throughout her life is the nightmare that happened to her brother, David, in the stables. There is guilt associated with that memory.

A single event, one of recognition, changes the lives of Carla and her mother. Without financial support they have no other choice, but to go back home to Italy.

Years later, lives have changed. More difficult for Lily and Ed, even though Lily has become a highly respected lawyer. For Carla, it’s a time of revenge.

My Husband’s Wife was difficult to read. I’m not one to like dark novels where you can’t find a single character to care about. That you hate the choices they make in life and how they treat people. That they are schemers and manipulators. But you know, that’s reality and I think it’s a lot more difficult creating characters that are disturbed and obsessed, than one’s you absolutely love and can relate to. This had to be written with multiple characters perspectives. How else would you understand where they are coming from?

Three paintings out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

June 30, 2018