Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, women's fiction
Published by Mira on April 30, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr delivers a poignant and powerful story about how one woman’s best intentions lead to the worst of situations and how the power of love helps her to heal and ultimately triumph.
From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.
Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.
But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.
This is a story about finally taking your life into your own hands and making a new beginning. And it’s also a story about karma being a beautiful brass-balled bitch.
Lauren Delaney is 24 years into a marriage that looks perfect on the outside – but is completely rotten on the inside. She knows that she’s let herself be a victim, and she’s pretty damned ashamed of that.
At the same time, she’s also aware that her husband is a controlling douchebag, and that she’s stayed because he threatened to cut their daughters off without a penny – or at least without enough pennies to pay for college.
He’s also certain that because he’s been the breadwinner as a successful and (self-) important surgeon that everything will go his way in any divorce. He knows how to turn on the charm when he needs to suck up – not that Lauren has had that charm directed at her in nearly two decades. But that over-inflated sense of his own self-importance has led him to completely ignore the fact that California is a community property state. Just because he’s done his level best to convince Lauren that she’s stupid doesn’t mean that she actually is.
Her departure is arranged. And secret. Her daughters are grown or nearly so, and it’s time to start living her own life without fear of abuse.
But no plan survives contact with the enemy – and neither does Lauren’s.
The family takes sides, with Lauren, her sister and her older daughter on one side – and her husband and younger daughter on the other. Along with a whole lot of friends that Lauren never realized she had.
She just has to survive long enough to see it all through.
Taking another chance at romantic love is absolutely nowhere on her horizon. After the way her marriage descended into an abyss, and the emotional cost of keeping up appearances long enough to get her daughters launched, she just isn’t ready to trust another man with any part of her slightly battered self.
At least not until she meets someone who has run the same gauntlet she has – someone who helps her see that the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel isn’t always an oncoming train.
Escape Rating B+: This was a hard books for me personally. In the end, a terrific one, but difficult at the beginning. My own first marriage went down on the same rocks that Lauren’s did. Not to the same degree by any means (and no kids for him to hold hostage), but the paths were surprisingly similar. It was painful and cathartic to read the story of someone else who came out the other side.
I also enjoyed that this is a story of a second chance at life and love for two people who are not 20somethings anymore. I always enjoy romances where the protagonists are a bit seasoned (and a bit closer to my own age!)
The story sits on the border between contemporary romances and women’s (or relationship) fiction. Because as much as the second half of the story focuses on Lauren’s initially stumbling steps towards a new relationship, a great deal of the narrative focuses on Lauren getting out of the old one, the bigger stumbling blocks to reaching that goal, and her relationships with the other women in her life.
Particularly her relationships with her daughters, her sister, and the women she thought were keeping her at arm’s length. After she leaves the jerk, she discovers that she was the one holding everyone else away, because it was easier to keep her secret in isolation than to lie with every second breath.
The way that her daughters react is painful but also feels all-too-real. The older one remembers more of the abuse than Lauren herself was willing to acknowledge. She’s thrilled that her mom is finally breaking away. But the real part is the way that the older girl was always aware that her younger sister was her dad’s favorite so she and her mother are more closely bonded.
The younger girl believes everything her daddy says, and is convinced her mother is having a midlife crisis and will come to her senses at any moment. It’s only when she is faced with incontrovertible evidence that she is finally able to let go of her own selfishness enough to realize that her mother has been telling the truth all along.
The romance that Lauren finds develops slowly and reluctantly. She’s been damaged, and her new friend has been hurt in the same way. They both lived with abusive spouses, both managed and cajoled and tolerated the abuse for the sake of their children, and both were finally able to let go once the children were nearly grown.
That both of their separated spouses tried to take the law into their own hands provided the tension in the story. This was a case, or rather two cases, where Chekhov’s Ex (the creepy stalkerish ex-relationship that looms over the entire plot like Chekhov’s Gun) took itself down off the shelf and hit the story with both barrels.
That the shots rebounded on their shooters made for a deliciously cathartic ending. Karma really is a beautiful bitch.
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