Title: The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr brings together a poignant novel with a rich tapestry of characters. A moving story that will leave the reader laughing and crying, as two friends confront their pasts and move towards their futures.
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.
The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr is wonderful novel of forgiveness, healing and love.
Emma Shay had absolutely no idea her husband Richard was defrauding his investors with a Ponzi scheme, but that does not stop everyone from blaming her for their losses. After she is cleared of wrongdoing, she returns to her hometown in California in hopes of picking up the pieces of her life. Completely honest about her past, Emma is dismayed by her inability to find employment in her former career field but she is not too proud to apply for service industry jobs. Running into her old childhood friend Adam Kerrigan is a blessing in disguise for Emma as she tries to rebuild her life.
While Emma is a likable character, she is frustratingly passive as she avoids conflict instead of facing it head on. While she truly did not have direct knowledge of Richard’s illegal activity, she was aware that things were not quite right but she blindly accepted his explanations when she did ask questions. In the aftermath of his conviction and subsequent suicide, Emma’s conscience will not allow her to keep any of money Richard illegally obtained. With very little money to her name, she has no choice but to work but she greatly underestimates how difficult it will be for prospective employers to overlook her somewhat sordid past. Renewing her friendship with Adam is surprisingly easy but she remains reluctant to act on their mutual attraction due to her complicated history with his sister (and her former best friend), Riley.
Growing up, Emma and Riley were closer than sisters, but after Emma left for college, the young women began to grow apart. Riley betrayed Emma is the worst possible way when she had an affair with Emma’s boyfriend Jock. After a horrible fight where they exchanged hurtful barbs, they went their separate ways. Riley has never been able to accept responsibility for her role in the demise of their friendship but she reluctantly hires Emma to work for her. Realizing just how precarious her situation is, Emma refuses to do anything to upset their fragile truce. With their lives intertwining both personally and professionally, it is only a matter of time before Riley learns the truth about Emma’s relationship with Adam. Is there any chance the estranged friends can forgive one another for past mistakes?
The storyline for The Life She Wants is conflict free and moves at a leisurely pace. The aftermath of the scandal with Emma’s husband is realistic and her desire to live life on her own terms is understandable. Her need for honesty after essentially living a lie for her entire marriage is easy to relate to but it is inevitable that she will need to alter her approach in order to find a job. Her relationship with Adam is an absolute joy and their transition from friends to lovers is believable.
While Emma’s desire to steer clear of confrontation is reasonable, it is very difficult to agree with her decision to keep her romance with Adam a secret. It is also quite frustrating to watch Emma allow her stepmother to continue to take advantage of her. Avoiding unnecessary drama is one thing, but Emma takes it to a whole new level by not fighting for what is rightfully hers. She does enjoy her much simpler life but Emma sometimes makes things harder for herself than necessary by refusing to take charge of certain situations.
The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr is an engaging novel with a cast of likable characters. Delightfully free from angst and drama, readers will be completely invested in this quiet but meaningful story of healing and resiliency. A moving and emotional novel that fans of contemporary women’s fiction are sure to love.