REVIEW: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain



The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Expected publication: October 3rd 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
4.5 Stars!!!

Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors. So I was very excited to read “The Stolen Marriage”. I’m usually not a big fan of historical fiction novels but I always find that I am pulled in by whatever subject matter Ms. Chamberlain is writing about, and this time was no different.

The book opens in Baltimore, Maryland in August 1943. Tess DeMello is celebrating her twenty-third birthday and her fiancé, Vincent’s completion of his hospital residency. Tess has loved Vincent for as long as she can remember. Now that he’s a full-fledged doctor and Tess will be graduating from nursing school, they are looking forward to working side by side. She has it all planned. Where they will live, how many children they will have…everything. After being engaged for the last year she will finally be his bride in May 1944.

But in a shockingly turn of events, Tess ends her engagement to Vincent and marries a man she knows nothing about. She relocates to live with her new husband, Henry in Hickory, North Carolina. Hickory is NOTHING like Little Italy. Her new husband runs a fine furniture factory that’s been in his family for years. Everyone judges Tess thinking she married Henry for his money. They don’t trust her and many seem to outright despise her.

Now Tess is unhappy and trapped in a loveless marriage to a man who has many secrets. Although Henry can be very kind, he’s often moody. He’s usually late coming home and sometimes doesn’t come home at all – offering lame excuses for his absence. While their house is being built they must live with Henry’s mother and sister who barely tolerate Tess. People tell her that there are so many things she doesn’t know but won’t tell her what those things are.

 “It’s a terrible feeling, being despised. From the moment I set foot in Hickory, I felt the suspicion, distrust, and outright hostility of most of the people I met”

Tess is hit with one thing after another as things go from bad to worse, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get much better.

But when a polio outbreak hits Hickory, Tess is determined to do all she can to help. Will Tess ever find happiness and acceptance in Hickory? And will she ever find the love she so desperately wants and deserves?

After a promising start, there was a lot going on and at first it wasn’t pulling me in. However, I needn’t have worried as it wasn’t long before I was gripped by the story and excited to find out what was going to happen next. As usual, the author has created many wonderful characters. Some characters I absolutely loved and others that made me furious. I was annoyed with Tess at first and at times I wanted to shout at her to stand up for herself. But I also admired her ability to hold her head up high.

Diane Chamberlain writes fiction books but the stories are often written around real events in history such as the war, polio, racism etc. This novel was no different. I always learn new things when reading her novels, and often end up doing more of my own research to find out more. I found it interesting reading about a time that my mother lived in. In many ways it made me realize how fortunate I am, and how much I take for granted.

A fantastic story about secrets, love, racism, betrayal, forgiveness and so much more. I can’t wait to read more from Diane Chamberlain.

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

Throwback Thursday: Testimony by Anita Shreve


Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favorite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

My choice for this week is:  

Testimony by Anita Shreve


Published October 21, 2008 by Little, Brown and Company


Goodreads Description:


At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora’s box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices–those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal–that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in Testimony a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.


My Thoughts:


This novel has very mixed reviews and may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

The story revolves around Avery Academy, a small private High School where a sex scandal involving the students was captured on video tape and has shocked the small community. A retelling of the events leading up to the tragic night told by many of those directly and indirectly involved.

A very well written and well paced book. I thought the wide variety of characters were very well-developed and their voices and personalities added to the story. I was pulled in and found it very hard to put down, finishing it within a couple of days. The story shows how the decisions we make can alter and impact not only our own lives, but the lives of so many others.

Anita Shreve tells a truly interesting and compelling story that stayed with me long after I finished the book.

REVIEW – When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Image result for when we were worthyWhen We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Published September 12, 2017 by Lake Union Publishing


After reading the description for WHEN WE WERE WORTHY, I knew it was another novel that I just had to read.

The events in the novel take place in, WORTHY, GEORGIA. Population 4162

Worthy is the like most small towns, everyone knows each other and their business. On Sundays in Worthy, you’d better show up in one of the towns many different churches or you’d be gossiped about. Not a lot to do in town, a few fast food places and one decent restaurant… Chessman’s. Not a lot of places for teens to hang-out. There is one pub but most of the teens know that if they even TRIED to sneak in, SOMEONE in the small town would tell their parents.

Fall in Worthy = Football. This is a town where football is EVERYTHING. Once the season starts, Worthy is more team than town.

“One thing everyone agreed on – it was the perfect night for football”

The book begins with “The Girls” Mary Claire, Brynne, and Keary telling us about that night.

That night, The Worthy Wildcats had just won their game. They were in the midst of another winning season and it looked like they were headed to the state championship.

“Our boys really showed up tonight”

Webb Hart, Ian Stone and Seth Bishop are the team’s heroes. The boys who can do no wrong in Worthy. But if they did do wrong? Most often it was just swept under the rug.

After the game, the teens had a party to get to. Mary Claire, Brynne and Keary got ready at Mary Claire’s house. Normally Leah would be with them. Brynne told the other two girls that Leah had something important to do.

Where was Leah?

They think back to the moments that could have changed everything. How many of those moments are in a day? How something so small can change everything. They were all excited about the night ahead, never thinking that it would end so tragically.

Ava Chessman is not from Worthy originally, but her husband Clay is. Ava is a substitute teacher and Clay runs Chessman’s his families restaurant. She was at the game with her husband, Clay. Feeling ignored she gets up to buy a drink. That’s when she runs into the one she calls “trouble”

People should never forget that in Worthy…someone is always watching.

Marglyn Miner can’t stop beating herself up for the argument she had with her daughter, Mary Claire that night. Marglyn is at the mall later that evening when her phone rings, it’s her husband’s phone number, but when she hears a strange voice asks if she is Marglyn Miner, she instantly knows something is wrong. Then she hears words nobody ever wants to hear…..

Darcy LaRue is trying to keep it together. She’s separated from her husband, Tommy who was one of Worthy’s previous football stars. They have one son together, Graham. When Tommy suddenly shows up at her house, she wonders why he’s there. But then she suddenly remembers all the sirens she’d been hearing. Tommy tells her they need to get to the hospital.

Leah Bennett is thinking that no matter what the football players do, they get away it. Boys will be boys, they say. Brynne is cheer captain and Leah is just a sophomore who was lucky to be cheering varsity. So when Brynne tells her she needs to “go the extra mile“, she does.

What was Leah doing that was more important? Why did Brynne seem so secretive about it?

I enjoyed this novel and read it in just a couple of sittings. Four women, all with their own secrets. A terrible tragedy that will bring most of these secrets to light. We see the story through the eyes of many characters. How the tragedy affected each of them as well as those they loved. Well defined characters, all with flaws, some bigger than others. What happens when a lapse in judgment leads to such horrible consequences? There are many benefits to living in a small town but at the same time in a small town your mistakes follow you everywhere and are seen by everyone.

Everyone wants answers. Someone needs to pay! Out for blood for some actions yet turning a blind eye to the actions of others? What happens when the answers you are looking for are not what you were expecting?

“In Worthy, truth lived right next door to perception, but they weren’t exactly friendly neighbors”

WHEN WE WERE WORTHY is well written and thought-provoking novel about love, lies, guilt, grief, forgiveness, and so much more. I am really looking forward to reading more from Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Music Monday : Like a Stone by Audioslave


Music Monday is a meme that was created by Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song and/or video and share it on Monday. I have really been enjoying the songs that Drew and everyone else has been sharing.  I love books but music is another passion of mine and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to join in.  I love almost all genres of music, and it’s not unheard of for me to have Kenny Rogers, Ozzy Osbourne, and Eminem on the same playlist.

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The song I have chosen to share this week is “Like a Stone” by Audioslave.  It was the second single from their debut album Audioslave and was released January 2003. Sadly the band’s singer and songwriter, Chris Cornell passed away May 18, 2017. His death was ruled a suicide. Such an amazingly talented man, gone WAY too soon.

I love the acoustic version of this song but the guitar solo (starts at 2:56) in this version always stops me in my tracks.


“Like A Stone”

On a cobweb afternoon,
In a room full of emptiness
By a freeway I confess
I was lost in the pages of a book full of death;
Reading how we’ll die alone.
And if we’re good we’ll lay to rest,
Anywhere we wanna go.In your house I long to be;
Room by room patiently,
I’ll wait for you there like a stone.
I’ll wait for you there alone.

And on my deathbed I will pray to the gods and the angels,
Like a pagan to anyone who will take me to heaven;
To a place I recall, I was there so long ago.
The sky was bruised, the wine was bled, and there you led me on.

In your house I long to be;
Room by room, patiently,
I’ll wait for you there like a stone.
I’ll wait for you there alone, alone.

And on I read until the day was gone;
And I sat in regret of all the things I’ve done;
For all that I’ve blessed, and all that I’ve wronged.
In dreams until my death I will wander on.

In your house I long to be;
Room by room, patiently,
I’ll wait for you there like a stone.
I’ll wait for you there alone, alone.