- Winner selected by random.org
- Book provided by the publisher
My take: Emma Shay’s wealthy husband committed suicide after being found guilty of running a Ponzi scheme leaving Emma to deal with the fallout alone in New York City. She decided to try to start over by going home to California where she at least had a friend who knew that none of what happened was her fault. She found a place to live and eventually a job that would get her on her feet, just barely. When the job didn’t work out she swallowed her pride and asked a former friend for a job in her housecleaning business.
The Life She Wants is about second chances – in life and in relationships. Emma learned a lot from her former life in New York, most importantly that money can’t buy happiness. Going back to where she’d started in life made her realize what she valued most and gave her courage to make things right with the people she cared about. Emma’s friend Riley had lessons to learn as well. She’d been angry about how her life changed fifteen years earlier and needed to lighten up and let people into her life.
Robyn Carr’s story pulled me in from page one. I rooted for Emma and eventually Riley to turn their lives around and find the life each yearned for. The secondary characters and storylines added interesting layers to the novel. I’m wondering if a certain detective from this book will turn up in another someday. His story seemed a bit unfinished. Regardless, I enjoyed The Life She Wants very much.
About the author:
“I’m frequently asked what it is about my stories that make them so popular. I think it’s the sense of community and that combination of romance and women’s fiction,” says author Robyn Carr. “I’m naturally drawn to strong, capable female characters, and when I begin a story, I ask myself, ‘What is she up against?’ It’s very empowering to read about women like ourselves as they resolve the issues that threaten their happiness and peace of mind. It’s also empowering to watch smart women choosing and falling in love with men of honor and integrity.”
The author of more than 40 novels, Robyn reaches a wide audience with her writing. In addition to her touching novels, she’s written historical and contemporary romance, as well as a gripping thriller. “This is the best job I’m ever going to get wearing pajamas,” she says of her writing career.
Originally from Minnesota, Robyn and her family have seen much of the country, thanks to her husband, Jim, and his career in aviation. After the two high school sweethearts married, Jim joined the air force. They’ve lived in Texas—all four corners—Alabama, Florida, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
The couple moved to Henderson, Nevada, so Jim could explore a new business opportunity. “At first, being a Midwest girl at heart, I said, ‘Oh, no, not another desert!’ It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beauty of Nevada—and the unrivaled spectacle of Las Vegas!”
Robyn well remembers how she began her career as an author more than 25 years ago. “I was trained as a nurse but found it impossible to get work because my husband was constantly being transferred. At the time, I was reading a lot of genre fiction for the sheer entertainment value, and I thought to myself, ‘I can write this!’”
And how was her first foray into the world of literature received? “It was universally panned. I thought I had written Gone with the Wind, but in actuality it was complete trash.” In fact, it was on her third try that Robyn finally succeeded in becoming a published author.
Now that Robyn’s two children are grown—and finally out of the house—she has the luxury of a little free time. “Until my kids grew up, I didn’t realize that a person could have hobbies other than laundry,” she jokes. But it turns out not to be hobbies that keep Robyn busy when she isn’t writing— she has found her niche in community service.
She has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out of state whenever possible and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fund-raising and visiting-author events that bring writers, their books and the community together. “It is the people in my life that fill the well,” she says. “Especially the people who share my love for books and writing.”
Today I’m happy to post a Q&A with author Robyn Carr. It was provided by Little Bird Publicity and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Stop back tomorrow for my review of her new novel The Life She Wants.
Q: On the surface, it seems like Emma Shay had the life that a lot of people would want—a rich husband, a beautiful home, expensive clothes, a full household staff. But we soon learn that her life was not the fairytale it appeared to be. What made you want to explore the darker side of that kind of monetary and material wealth, and what do you think it actually means to have a “rich life?”
A: Money can be fun but it’s a tool, nothing more. There are so many wise sayings that apply – “It is a wealthy man who knows he has enough.” Or one of my favorites, “If you marry for money you’ll earn every dime.” Why? Because money is a convenient tool but the love of money is soulless. When Emma is finally free of the burdens and complications of wealth, when she earns her money and simplifies her life she feels richer.
I think one has a rich life when one has people who love her, friends and hopefully family, or at least the family one collects, when one has health and a positive outlook on life. Some of the happiest people I’ve known didn’t have much material wealth. Real wealth comes from knowing who you can depend on, who you can trust, who will be there for you when you need someone – maybe just to talk.
I know that billionaire romances are very popular but I’ve never been enamored of them. I find the problems of the incredibly rich to be boring and lifeless. There’s joy in challenge and I take pride in hard work. In a job well done. People are not important to me if they’ve amassed wealth – they’re valuable to me if they’ve collected wisdom. Professor Cornel West said he didn’t necessarily admire intelligence – Hitler was brilliant after all. He admired wisdom.
Q: After losing her husband and washing her hands of his sullied fortune, Emma returns home to California to rebuild her life and start over from scratch. Part of this involves reconnecting with old places and people she has not seen in over a decade. What inspired this idea of reconnection, of a prodigal returning home after a long absence?
A: I’m fascinated by relationships and one of the stickier ones we grapple with is women’s relationships with other women. There is no way to describe the heartache when best friends split up – it’s almost as bad as a divorce. I wanted a close look at that – both Emma and her former best friend, Riley, did unforgiveable things. Can they overcome it? Should they? Sometimes we pass our time with a friend and have to move on; sometimes it’s not too late. I never know how these issues will be worked out until I write about it. I have to spend some time with the characters, find out what they need, what kind of people they are, what they need.
Women behaving badly fascinates me, also. We’ve all experienced deep hurt from a friend and we all know how hard that is to overcome. How would Emma and Riley deal with their betrayal? That’s what I wanted to know.
Q: Emma and Riley are both people who have suffered betrayals and trauma in their romantic relationships. What makes Emma so open to finding love again, and what makes Riley so wary of it? Was it fun to write the two different sides of that coin?
A: I think Emma is surprised to find love and with, of all people, an old friend who she feels safe with. She was so alone in her marriage, so unloved and neglected. Riley, on the other hand, sees falling in love as a danger – the one and only time she fell for someone it destroyed her cherished friendship and left her adrift in a very difficult world as a single mother.
It was much more fun to write about a lost friendship than it is to live it! Everyone has had the experience of being dumped by a best friend and it’s horribly painful. And there’s always two sides to every story but we’re usually so determined to be right, we never try to understand the other side of the story. In this book I get to look at both of their perspectives without prejudice and it’s something to learn from. And I think the reader, like the writer in this case, will wonder to the very last page if they can resume their friendship.
Q: You’re known for your fantastic book series—at every event you do people beg you to write more Virgin River and Thunder Point books! Does this novel have any characters that you want to explore in future books? If not, what was it like working on a self‐contained story like this, and how does writing a standalone novel differ from, say, writing the first book of a planned series?
A: I love both – the stand alone and the series. In the stand alone novel there is a beginning, middle and end and there’s no continuing story. There’s a reason I don’t write about these same people up to their death. Novels are about conflict. A reunion story, as so many of my readers suggest, is about a lot of people in the process of living happily ever after and it’s very sweet, and very boring. Once my characters have reached their satisfactory happily ever after, we should be able to imagine them living contentedly, without great conflict. We don’t really want to see these beloved characters who have become friends struggle endlessly – that becomes frustrating and we’ll ask ourselves “Why can’t they get a handle on their lives?”
What I love about the standalone is that a specific set of challenges has been overcome and there should be satisfaction. Now the rest of their lives belongs to the reader and the reader’s imagination.
Q: We have to ask, what’s next for you? What are you working on right now?
A: I’m at work on the second Sullivan’s Crossing novel, no title yet. It should be ready soon and out the beginning of April 2017.
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Ends September 28, 2016
Description: Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing.
Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.
Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship.
But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.
Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other. (publisher)
My take: I was so happy to receive this from Goodreads First Reads giveaways. A great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read the next book.
I loved the fully formed main characters, the gorgeous Colorado setting, the enjoyable support characters, and the multi-layered plot. I won’t spoil it by going into the specifics.
I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Robyn Carr you’re going to want to put this at the top of your TBR list. If you enjoy contemporary romance but haven’t read Carr’s books, try this one. I loved it. Oh, I was glad I had tissues nearby while reading the end. An emotional novel that I’m glad I had a chance to read.
Description: Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has traveled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he’s never had. In the quiet coastal town, he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes.
Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son, Charlie, are fixtures at Winnie Banks’s house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, Lin Su is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie’s health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions she doesn’t want to answer.
When Charlie enlists Blake’s help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue, and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be. (publisher)
My take: Wildest Dreams is the 9th book in Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series. The main characters are Blake, a world-class athlete and new Thunder Point resident, and Lin Su, nurse to Blake’s neighbor. The two meet and the attraction is almost immediate – at least in Blake’s case. Lin Su is a single mother who is determined to make the best life for her son Charlie and that means she’s not interested in a relationship. So, even though she likes Blake and might be a little attracted to him, that’s not going to happen. She’s controlled her life since she was eighteen after all. Charlie and Blake might have a say in that though.
I thought the characters were believable. Reading about the triathlons Blake competed in was very interesting. I appreciated the details of Lin Su’s care of her patient Winnie who has ALS. We also catch up with three pregnant women (featured in previous books) who are due to give birth very soon. But the stars are Blake and Lin Su. These two were more alike than they imagined and yet pride and stubbornness might prevent a wonderful relationship. Will Lin Su start to realize life can be good and allow herself to trust Blake? I enjoyed finding out.
I liked Wildest Dreams and recommend it to fans of Robyn Carr and contemporary, small town romance. It could stand alone but it involves characters from One Wish (book #7 in the series) so you might want to read that book first. I recommend the entire series!
Synopsis: After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she’s excited to be assisting with the Lacoumette wedding.
In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger is swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride’s brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself when he tries to make a pass at Ginger, forcing her to flee the scene in embarrassment.
But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending. (publisher)
My take: I’m beginning to think Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series would make a good cable series. All of the books in the series could stand alone but I’m glad I got in with the first and kept up. It’s always nice to see past characters make an appearance in a supporting role. For those keeping up with the series, book 8 picks up where book 7 left off.
I loved Ginger. She’d been through so much and had learned from her past experiences. The scene where she met Matt made me laugh out loud. Their story picked up from there and on the last page of the book I was very happy with their progress. Matt was all about getting over his first marriage but he had never truly faced why that marriage failed – that perhaps he shared some of the responsibility. He had a lot of anger to let go. I appreciate how Carr wove the theme of forgiveness through the novel.
There are a couple of related subplots that will arc into the next book (or two). I can’t wait to see how they progress. I really enjoyed A New Hope and recommend it to fans of the series and Robyn Carr.
About the author: Originally from Minnesota, Robyn Carr and her family have seen much of the country thanks to her husband, Jim, and his career in aviation. After the two high school sweethearts married, Jim joined the Air Force. They’ve lived in Texas – all four corners – Alabama, Florida, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The couple moved to Henderson, Nevada, so Jim could explore a new business opportunity. “At first, being a Midwest girl at heart, I said, ‘Oh, no, not another desert!’ It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beauty of Nevada – and the unrivaled spectacle of Las Vegas!”
Now that Robyn’s two children are grown – and finally out of the house – she has the luxury of a little free time. “Until my kids grew up, I didn’t realize that a person could have hobbies other than laundry,” she jokes. But it turns out not to be hobbies that keep Robyn busy when she isn’t writing – she has found her niche in community service. She has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out-of-state whenever possible and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fund-raising and visiting author events that bring writers, their books and the community together. “It is the people in my life that fill the well,” she says. “Especially the people who share my love for books and writing.”
Synopsis: Grace Dillon was a champion figure skater until she moved to Thunder Point to escape the ruthless world of fame and competition. And though she’s proud of the quiet, self-sufficient life she’s created running a successful flower shop, she knows something is missing. Her life could use a little excitement.
In a community where there are few eligible singles, high school teacher Troy Headly appoints himself Grace’s fun coach. When he suggests a little companionship with no strings attached, Grace is eager to take him up on his offer, and the two enjoy…getting to know each other.
But things get complicated when Grace’s past catches up with her, and she knows that’s not what Troy signed up for. Faced with losing her, Troy realizes Grace is more than just a friend with benefits. He’s determined to help her fight for the life she always wished for but never believed she could have—and maybe they can find real love along the way. (publisher)
My take: I think one of the things I enjoy most about Robyn Carr’s small town romances is that she understands regular people. They’re people probably like most of the people I (or any reader) know. The Thunder Point series is one I love going back to whenever there’s a new book. It’s always a comfort read and I like to see what characters from previous books are up to as well as meet new ones.
I loved the story of Grace and Troy, two secondary characters from earlier books. They never gave each other a second thought – until they did. They have so much in common that they seem perfect for each other. And then things start happening that Grace has to explain. She’s not exactly who people thought she was. There’s much more to the local flower shop owner than anyone would have imagined. Will the people in her Thunder Point life, especially Troy, be able to deal with the “new” Grace?
One Wish is about knowing that it’s not what you don’t have that’s important, but more what you do have. And those things don’t always come with a price. The most valuable are priceless.
Not every thread of this story is tied up by the last page. I like that continuity into the next book and look forward to reading it. If you like small town romance you need to read the Thunder Point series.