The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning...
Comment: This was the latest book by Nora Roberts I have read. I keep pacing myself so that I always have something by her to read yearly, as she is still one of my favorite authors.
In this book we meet Shelby Foxworth, a recently widowed young woman, who discovers her husband and father of her child is not who she thought he was. He had many debts and bills which now Shelby has to pay for. She has been selling everything she can in order to pay off what is due and she feels that the best way for her and her daughter Callie to get past the lies and the betrayal is to to get back to her family, a place where she can find peace and the caring of those who love her.
Once back, Shelby slowly lets her family help her heal and there is even a man who seems to be someone she could trust and rely on. However, the lies from her her husband's past still follow Shelby and suddenly there is a lot more to worry about than she anticipated. Will she be able to get past that and find happiness again?
In a way, all the books by this author end up being successful. Even the ones readers might dislike more or like less or feel repetitive, still manage to please a bigger majority. I did read some comments here and there, without delving too much to avoid spoilers, and I got the impression some opinions weren't as positive because some felt she repeats the same types of characters all the time. However, even if one allows this to be likely, I still had a great time reading this novel and, in the end, it worked out well for me.
I think the first chapters really drew me in. If there's one thing the author is good at is in creating the right characterization for her protagonists and Shelby felt like someone we could meet in real life, she was an average type southern woman who faced quite a complicated situation and I immediately felt for her, while she went through the motions to try to solve some problems, deal with others... I think the first pages were well set as well as the mood Shelby was in, especially as she left the house she knew she would not get back to, which also made me think about personal scenes...
Anyway, so the story pretty much follows Shelby as she goes back to her family home and how she starts to make plans to get on with her life after a marriage that wasn't successful. This story felt quiet, slow paced, the atmosphere felt easy to visualize and it was very good to see a big family like hers being united, friendly, all the elements were there for each other. It was very good to see not Shelby and not Griff, the hero, had bad/unwelcoming/distant parents as a moot for conflict.
I should say, though, the biggest focus is in Shelby and how her life is affected by what her liar husband has done. I feel the hero didn't have as much air time, he was developed as a human being (of course he's a great guy, a great friend, a great partner...) but we don't have as much from his background and his family as we could, so he does feel a little under developed. He's likeable and his skills and ability to be in the right place at the right time are not in question, but it would have been nice to have more about him than just the necessary information.
The romance is often an important part of any book by this author. Often her characters seem a bit too perfect, even among the characteristics which deem them "flawed", and the hero here, in particular, gave me that impression. As for the love story, it was so easy, so convenient...I could see this happening in real life, just two people sharing things, being closer because of mutual friends, of circumstances and slowly getting to appreciate and care for one another. I still think the relationship evolved too easily and this is one detail I'd change a bit too.
The best thing about this book is how Shelby's family unites to help her, to give her support when she decides to do things or when it's necessary to take steps into solve what they believe to be a mess left by her husband. It's true this might not be the most original plot or the most intricate but I liked the way the scenes played out, I liked the overall feel of the story. It was also nice to see how Shelby decided to get back her best friend and how she kept thinking it wasn't as easy as one could think.
I think that, all things considered, this was a good story, entertaining, I liked spending time reading it, turning the pages... I know it might not work so well for others and I know some of the less positive aspects could be so much better but, still, this ended up being a great book for me.