Book Review | Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli


until i met her

Beatrice Johnson Greene, a bestselling crime writer, has an unusual favor to ask. When a chance encounter brings Emma Fern into her life, she thinks she’s found just the person for the job. Soon Beatrice will wish they’d never met.

For Emma, desperate to please, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. All she has to do is lend her name to Beatrice’s next novel, her first in a new genre. But when the book becomes a huge triumph, Emma finds herself the toast of the literary world. From nobody to somebody without writing a word.

It’s her first taste of success, and now Emma wants more. This is her masterpiece, after all. It says so on the cover.

Only Beatrice knows the truth. And surely there’s a solution to that.

Until I Met Her begins with the funeral of an author- Emma Fern’s best friend and mentor.  There is a private admission from Emma that she in fact, killed Beatrice.  And so the book opens to reveal a mousy character who owns a vintage shop, is married to a successful businessman with a mundane life.  But Emma Fern is nothing if she isn’t incredibly unpredictable.

Her entire world changes when Beatrice Johnson Greene entered her store.  She can’t help but fall all over herself, complimenting her and winning her affection.  The two quickly move from strangers to best friends, and within a short amount of time, trust begins to build between them.  Emma begins to disregard the store, preferring to run off with Beatrice to drunken lunches, and shopping with the rich and famous.

Beatrice confides to Emma that she has written a book that is outside of her genre, and since a previous book of hers had bombed in the past, she was wondering if Emma could be the “author” for a novel she’d already written- take the credit, and be the face of this new book.  At first, Emma is shocked and refuses to do it, but then her dream of being a writer is ignited, and she agrees.

Emma’s lust for fame, and a desire to remain friends with successful, untouchable Beatrice turns to greed as little by little Emma makes subtle changes to the manuscript and takes full possession of the book.  And with no set contract in place, it’s hers, right?

A sidebar to consider in the novel is Emma’s relationship with her husband Jim.  It is incredibly awkward, as she sees no wrong in him at all, and his lack of interest in anything she says/does.  But because of his success, she admires and fawns all over him, even though he’s constantly dismissive of her.  She seems to have a very skewed view of how well her own marriage is going.  Pleasing Jim has always been her main concern, until the book…

Is Beatrice encouraged and thrilled for her best friend to have fame as well?  Or is it truly a passive aggressive friendship that is doomed?  You’ll have to read for yourself.

This was a quick read, one with unpredictable twists and turns, and moments of “what the what!?!!”  I loved the characters, with the exception of Jim, who is so noticeably arrogant, that it makes me wonder what Emma really sees in him.  And even though Emma is nothing like she seems in the beginning, I found that I liked her crazy thinking as she progresses through the story.  She’s feminine, overthinks as many of us do, and a little immature, so I found her to be believable.

I loved Natalie Barelli’s first book in the Emma Fern series, that I’m currently reading the second book, After He Killed Me.  Stay tuned for that review!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 ( “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | A Margin of Lust by Greta Boris

margin of lust

The first in a seven-book series on the seven deadly sins, A Margin of Lust, focused on strictly that- LUST.  Gwen Bishop is a real estate agent who lists her dream home and can’t wait to sell it.  She loves real estate and the long-term goals she’ll be able to accomplish with the sale of homes.  Her husband is a school principal who is very focused on their family and his career as well.  As distance comes between Art and Gwen, enter a killer, who has a tie to the house Gwen is trying to sell, with agendas of his own.  Soon after the listing for the multi-million dollar home goes on sale, a body is found in the house, and Gwen is part of the clean-up crew, as well as the next target.

Lust manifests in many shapes and sizes in this book, and it was a suspenseful quick read, with well-developed characters and a strong plot line. It makes you question every person that Gwen encounters, and with chapters written from the perspective of the killer, the story pulls you in until you reach the very end.  Can’t wait to read The Scent of Wrath, Greta’s second book in the series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Fawkes Press and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

the things we wish

I absolutely loved this book! It took a while to build the characters, but slowly, the intricate parts of their lives began to unfold, and the unity between the neighbors in Sycamore Glen began to gel. It was a wonderful story, told from multiple points of view. I found that not to be distracting, as every character was different, in age, their situation and their perspective.

This story really made me think about our quick and hasty judgements of others. At the beginning of the story, a lot happens around the community pool, which is a common backdrop for gossip and opinions of others. This pool, however, has quite a cast of characters seated around it, and the story takes off.

A small child drowns and it sets off a chain of events that draw people toward each other, some that probably never would have crossed paths otherwise. I found the needs of each character to be vulnerable and exposed, and it says a lot about humanity.

Everyone has secrets, and each one is revealed throughout the book, and how they intersect and unravel is delicate and flawless. I loved each “what just happened” moment and would love to see this book become a movie. The characters were all lovable, with the exception of one, and you’ll figure that out as the story moves toward a garden at Zell’s house. I found this book to be endearing. And at the end, all of the little trails led to a forward moving path. Great story and depth!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced reader copy! This was a great read and one I’m grateful to have had the chance to review for you.