Wednesday, October 26, 2016

7 Heart Review: The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr

The Life She Wants
Robyn Carr

Page Count: 368

Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Little Bird Publicity!)
Rating♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr creates an emotional and uplifting ensemble of characters in this rags-to-riches-to-rags novel about women, friendship and the complex path to happiness

In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing.

Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.

Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.
Not many authors who started off with romance can write about friendships just as well, but Robyn Carr has always been one of the queens of women's fiction in my book. A few years ago, I read and loved Four Friends so I was excited to give her newest release a try.

The Life She Wants relays the messy, complicated lives of Riley Kerrigan and Emma Shay, two women who were once inseparable, but are now no longer on speaking terms. When Emma moves back to her hometown Sebastopol filled with shame, the two women are forced to confront each other due to several interfering factors: Emma's desperate need for employment following her husband's disgraceful scandal, as well as her intimate involvement with old acquaintances who are also very close to her former best friend.

I love how elaborate details of each of their lives contributed to the main conflict, rather than having the story focus exclusively on the backstory and slow rebuilding of the friendship itself. Riley faces unique challenges, like raising her teenage daughter as a single mother and running her cleaning company, while Emma has some burdens of her own, like coming to terms with her hurtful past and facing financial turmoil, not for the first time in her life. When their lives intersect in a familiar setting, a memory-ripe town in Sonoma, California, old feelings—old grudges, disappointments, miscommunications, and apologies—begin to surface, demonstrating that although home is somewhere you can escape from, it's a place that never escapes you.

The cast of supporting characters is amazing, each person just as fleshed out and complex as any of Robyn Carr's characters are. The twist on the classic fairy tale this book takes is really enjoyable too; from rags to riches to rags is exactly how I'd describe it, and it's an emotionally engaging journey all throughout. While not mind-blowing, this is definitely a Cinderella story, and not the kind you've read before, either.

Pros


Great integration of each character's subplots in the main theme of rekindling friendship // Easy to read; Carr never fails to impress me with her storytelling // A beautiful modern take on Cinderella // Strong, empowering women characters that are still likable and relatable—ironically, these are often hard to find in the romance and women's fiction genres!

Cons


The ending regarding Emma's financial insecurities seems a little too inconvenient // Riley is a bit of a stubborn character; I didn't care for her playing the victim card when she's the one who betrayed Emma to begin with // Predictable in terms of outcome

Love

"I'll get out of your hair as soon as I help you clean up the dishes. I know you're tired," he said.

"If I'm not that tired?" she asked.

He left at 5 a.m.

Verdict


In her newest standalone novel, Robyn Carr considers a relatively unexplored topic in the women's fiction genre: two ex-best friends reconnecting in middle adulthood, and all the complications that accompany it. Featuring a multidimensional conflict, a strong ensemble of lovable characters, and the buildup of traditional small-town romance and heartbreaking family backstories we've all come to expect and love, The Life She Wants offers readers a glimmering portrait of true friendship, the meaning of forgiveness, and the value of self-worth Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; would recommend, but borrow a copy before you buy! (x)