This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.
The basic plot of this story is that a young woman, Brooke Hayes, who has just accepted Trent Grant's proposal to marry, learns after her father dies that her mother is not dead. It was her father's deathbed wish that her grandmother tell her that they had been lying to her all these years. Her mother is alive, and as Brooke discovers, is happily married to some other guy and raising a family with him. Rather than seek rapprochement, Brooke seeks revenge, and decides to seduce her mother's husband.
This idea appealed to me as a novel, but I have to report that the execution of it was a fail. I made it about one third the way through this, and that was as far as I could stand to read, because the writing really turned me off the story. The rest of it I skimmed and skipped, and it did not improve.
I had problems with a lack of realism in the story, but mostly the problem was that the main character came off as being a few legs short of a bucket of friend chicken. I used that description advisedly, because there was only one meal depicted in the portion I read, and it was fried chicken! I was thinking, come on, a black family and the one meal you show them eating together is fried chicken? Way to culturally stereotype! If a white writer had written that, they would have been accused of stereotyping if not racism. I know people do eat fried chicken, and some more than others, but would it really have hurt the story to have depicted a different meal? Are writers really so afraid these days of coloring outside the lines? How I wish they were not.
This was a minor problem though compared with others I encountered. The relationship between Trent and Brooke did not strike me as a charmed one, nor as a loving one, and the foreshadowing of the outcome was far too heavy-handed leaving only one surprise: why were these two people even together in the first place? Most of the time they were depicted in this story, they didn't even seem like they had ever dated before!
They had zero in common and no hope for a future. Trent wanted to live his own life and go his own way. He didn't seem to care what Brooke wanted, which begs the question as to why he constantly lied that he was there for her and why Brooke was too dumb to see through the lie. He never was there for her, and he came off more like a pain in the ass brother than ever he did a decent fiancé.
There was this obnoxious dominating quality emanating from him, and he seemed completely out of tune with Brooke. I know this was addressed later, because I skimmed later portions of the story and the ending wasn't one I thought was very good.
In one example of how far apart they were, they were in a restaurant, and Trent got a call. He said, "This is my commander. I've been waiting on this call. Excuse me a minute." So he gets up and leaves her at the table why? Is the call super-secret? This is his fiancée he's sitting with and he's discussing something which affects her, and which she's already aware of; no truly caring partner would have got up to hold a call like that in private.
It made it look more like this was a call from a secret lover than a career call. I know this happens all the time on TV and in the moves - everyone who ever gets a call walks away to talk on the phone, and I think this author just ran with that cookie-cutter piece of writing without expending a single thought on how this would go down in the real world.
If there was something tied to this - like it wasn't his boss but a woman he was having an affair with, that would have at least made some sense. Brooke never even gets suspicious of this behavior. Once again she's portrayed as not having much going on behind a pretty face, Trent is portrayed as callous, and the story sounds like it was written from cue cards rather than form the heart.
The author either doesn't think much of healthcare professionals or she's had little experience of them outside of TV and movies. I read:
Then the nurse frantically rushed us out as I heard someone else yell, "Code Blue!"Anyone who hasn't been around when a code is called can be forgiven for viewing it this way I suppose, but it's not what happens. Yes, there is urgency of course, but 'whirlwind of chaos' isn't a nice way to describe medical professionals trying to save someone's life. Once a code is called (and it's not by someone yelling "Code Blue!") there are certain people who hurry to the patient, and each has a specific job to do. You can't dismiss it as 'several nurses and one doctor' unless you want to look like an amateur working on bad fan fiction.
Several nurses and the doctor came racing down the hall. They shuttled us out of the room as it turned into a whirlwind of chaos.
The problem with this section isn't that, though, it's that the author describes the people being taken out of the room twice - like the first time they didn't leave? The nurse frantically rushed them out? No, the nurse isn't frantic, she's an expert at what she does. She will ask you to leave and be urgent and firm about it because the professionals need the room to work, but she isn't frantic.
The issue here though is, if the nurse rushed them out, then why do several nurses and a doctor have to shuttle them out immediately afterwards? In point of fact there is likely to be more than one doctor and only the nurses who are required to help out. There will also be a respiratory therapist, and someone (the ward clerk most likely) will probably call a chaplain or someone like that to be with the family.
At the fried chicken dinner, Trent's father selfishly takes the chicken breast every single time and the hell with his kids, and Brooke is so stupid that she thinks this is an ideal family! No wonder Trent has serious issues. At one point his thoughts are: "He didn't want to drag her back. He feared that she'd just leave again" WTF?
Trent honestly thinks he has the right to manhandle Brooke against her will and literally drag her off somewhere? What is he, a caveman? I suspect even a caveman would have had issues trying to drag "his woman" back to his cave if she didn't want to go. I don't see how we can celebrate the end of slavery when some authors quite evidently still see women as the property of Neanderthal men. This book is copyright 2017, but reads like it was published in 1720
This novel came with nine screens (on my phone) of advertising related to other material from this same author, and offering glowing reviews from people I don't know, and whose opinion I have no reason whatsoever to respect. This tells me the publisher thinks I'm as stupid as Brooke is, in that I will be swayed just because a stranger gushes over something. No. The answer is no. One such screen was one too many.
When I request a review copy it's because I've already decided the novel might be worth a look. You don't need to go the whole nine screens to sell it to me. No amount of mindless sound bites form strangers is going to change my mind one way or another because no one else's opinion matters. The only thing that matters is the writing and I am sorry, truly sorry, that the publisher thought that was not enough in this case even though in the end, the publisher was right.
So: published in 2017, and the author still doesn't think it's worth giving a nod to recycling? "...walked back in the kitchen to put the paper towel in the trash". Yep. You know, novels, even this one, will be read by people (evidently impressionable people too!), and just one passing brief mention of recycling might make a difference, but not for this author. Or is she trying to 'spread the word' that African Americans simply don't recycle? Because I don't buy that, and I think it's insulting to suggest otherwise. Any one of these things would be a minor thing not worth a mention, but when the reader is hit repeatedly with one thing after another like this, then it's certainly worth taking issue with it.
We learn that one character "leaned back, crossing her long, sultry legs" Sultry legs? It was this kind of thing cropping up repeatedly: sloppy writing, thoughtless plotting, careless attitude towards creating a novel, that rapidly turned me off reading any further. I got the impression from it, that the author really didn't care about this novel, and perhaps even had the same attitude towards it that Sarah had towards her relationship with her daughter Brooke: little or no interest in it and couldn't be bothered to make the effort, so she left it and walked away.
She hobbles Brooke with what amounts to a worship of her grandmother, cringing like someone might take a switch to her if she disses her 'superior', when this woman has been outright lying to Brooke for years about her mother's fate. Then the hypocritical grandmother has the gall to turn around at one point and "She shot daggers my way. 'Are you calling me a liar?'" Yeah granny. You are a liar and you don't deserve respect, and I felt the same way about this novel. I cannot in good faith recommend it.