Not Her Daughter

Not Her Daughter

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey (Thriller)

Is kidnapping a child okay if you feel you will give her a better life?

Emma is a five-year-old whose mother mistreats her, both verbally and physically. This breaks the heart of single, childless Sarah who has never fully recovered from being abandoned by her own mother. So, she does the unthinkable: she kidnaps the kid and heads out of town with her. Once they’re on the road, it’s too late to turn back. What now?

The story is told from the points of view of both Sarah and Amy, Emma’s mother. Amy is a thoroughly unlikable person drawn with a heavy hand. She is grossly overweight, has pock-marked skin, and possesses no self-control. Deep anger toward everything and everyone in her life consumes her. She’s a lousy wife to Richard, who is small, scrawny, and prone to tears. He’s also oblivious to the bruises on his daughter. These two certainly don’t deserve to have a child, especially Emma, who is an exceptionally beautiful little girl with huge gray eyes and a sweet smile.

Sarah, meanwhile, is attractive, successful, and rich — a self-made businesswoman. Her father is pretty much of a weakling, still waiting for his incommunicado wife to come back after twenty-five years, but the other men in Sarah’s life — Ethan and Ryan — are hunks. However, she longs for her own mother, and so she needs to save Emma the way she wishes someone had saved her.

Besides creating unappealing — and thereby undeserving — characters via significant reference to their physical appearance, this book is rife with crummy mothers. Sarah, on the other hand, in spite of the fact that she takes a five-year-old from her home and family, is meant to be a better bet than any of the parents we’ve seen so far. So, how could Emma not be better off?

More than once — three times to be exact — the author had one of the narrators tell herself that what was happening was real, not something in a movie or a book. Besides jolting me out of the story to think, “except this is a book,” the line served as a reminder of how unrealistic this was. The happy-go-lucky conclusion made it even worse.

Rather than a thriller, this was a fantasy.

Three stars for writing style but not storyline.

The reviewer received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.






The Idea of You

The Idea of You

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse (Contemporary Fiction)

This tale is meant to be a tearjerker as we witness the heartbreak of forty-year-old newlywed Lucy who wants a baby with a terrible fierceness but cannot carry a pregnancy past the first trimester. Between chapters dealing with the here and now, we read Lucy’s poignant messages to a baby girl, her thoughts on what she and her daughter would be doing together if that were only possible.

Meanwhile her husband, Jonah, is supportive, but he is already father to Camille, a seventeen-year-old who lives with her mother but now comes to stay with Lucy and Jonah for a while. When Camille and Lucy don’t get along, Jonah seems to side with his daughter, and Lucy begins feeling isolated in her own home and eventually in her marriage.

A rather predictable event takes place, along with a somewhat surprising revelation, both of which turn Lucy’s marriage even further on its ear. It’s now up to her to either “put on her big girl shoes” as her chauvinistic jerk of a boss likes to say, or watch her marriage dissolve.

For me, this felt too much like a tearjerker for tearjerker’s sake. Miscarriage is not an unknown to this reviewer, and it’s nothing to make light of, but life goes on. It must. Unfortunate things happen in a lifetime, and how we handle them is the real test of character. Lucy’s continuous, obsessive dwelling upon what was not to be made it difficult to regard her as the strong, resilient woman she supposedly is, and I almost quit reading. Jonah was not a sympathetic character; I probably liked Camille better than anyone. At least she was a naïve teenager who had reason to be immature, and watching her grow was the best part of the story.

Grandma gives The Idea of You three stars. 3 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Our Song: The Wilder Books #1


Our Song: The Wilder Books #1 by Savannah Kade (Contemporary Romance)

Although classified as Romance, Our Song is a sweet love story involving good friends who come to love one another but believe the feeling is not mutual and therefore refrain from letting the other one know. The result, of course, is continuous frustration over what is perceived as unrequited love – frustration on the part of the two main characters, Kelsey and JD, and on the part of the reader who knows the truth. Unfortunately, for this reader, the frustration went on way too long, and I found myself skimming passages in search of something new and interesting that might move this tale along.

If you want a feel-good story about two nice people who’ve been given a lousy deal but make the best of it and ultimately find true love, you will enjoy this. Both main characters are very likeable, and we get to know these two single parents well. We experience their daily lives, how they and their children interact, what they eat, where they go, and everything they say. We know their innermost thoughts, how sexy they find each other, and how they misunderstand some basic information that makes each of them think the other couldn’t possibly feel the same way. We watch each of them work up his or her courage to take the big step and then, for the umpteenth time, fail to follow through, disappointing us all once more. Finally (not exactly a spoiler, since this is a romance), we watch them consummate their love and figure it all out.

Savannah Kade writes well. I’ve even forgiven her for the use of “revert back,” which happens to be a pet peeve of mine. She has created an interesting pair: a thirty-something woman who sacrificed her own happiness to take care of her ill brother and is now raising two children alone, and a younger man who finds himself with custody of a feisty little girl he never knew about and has no idea how to handle. Their story, however, needed fewer details about the mundane and more obstacles than self-doubt to keep this reader heavily invested in the outcome.

Grandma gives Our Song three stars. 3 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of Our Song from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.