Tag Archives: Women’s Fiction

THE LAST FLIGHT

“. . .very few people actually stop to consider how difficult it is to truly vanish. The level of detail needed to eliminate even the tiniest trace. Because there’s always something. A small thread, a seed of truth, a mistake. It only takes a tiny pinprick of circumstance to unravel it all.”    (Prologue, The Last Flight)

It all begins in the present. In the JFK Airport Departure Area, two pensive women are waiting for flights to a place they do not want to go.  Women with secrets that could cost them their lives.

Claire Cook is terrified. She has crossed the Rubicon. Her marriage to Rory Cook, her charming, rich, and handsome husband, the heir to one of America’s political royalty, is a sham. Behind closed doors, she is a victim of physical and mental abuse. It has taken years of sly preparation, but today, she was to have arrived in Detroit for a charity event as Mrs. Rory Cook. After collecting her getaway package, sent in advance to the hotel in Detroit, she would have disappeared under an assumed name leading a new life.

At the last minute, her husband, without telling Claire, flies to the Detroit charity event himself. Claire is instructed by a staff member that she is to replace her husband at an event in Puerto Rico. Frantically she calls the Detroit hotel hoping to intercept her package before he arrives. A clerk tells her she has already handed the package to her husband. He knows. And he will make her pay for endangering his political ambitions with this scandal.

Eva Marie James has been in NYC visiting an old neighbor from California but she now must return to Berkley.  Eva, a former chemistry student at UC Berkley, leads a lonely and complex life. What began as a one-time choice to help a student by creating an illegal drug has led to a life in the underbelly of illegal drug distribution. It has been a lucrative life for her, but a deadly and dangerous endeavor, and now she wants out. Unless she can find a way to disappear, her only way out is feet first in a pine box.

In the throng of passengers heading to their departure gates, she overhears Claire Cook’s frantic call to a friend for help now that her husband knows she is leaving him. Eva sees a way out that could benefit Claire and herself. Carefully. Cautiously. Eve draws physically then mentally close to Claire. She spins a heart rendering yarn about a husband recently deceased from cancer. She can’t face walking back into her home and all those painful memories. She guides Claire to making a decision that could save both of them. “Do you think it’s possible for someone to disappear? Vanish without a trace?”

Claire takes the bait. They exchange everything; trading lives. Claire boards the plane to California becoming what she believes to be a distraught widow. Eva has what she needs most – a new identity. The seat on Vista Air, Flight 477 to San Juan. Puerto Rico, just a stepping stone to a new life.  Money not an issue. She established an untraceable offshore account years ago.

Six hours later, Claire’s flight arrives in California. She senses something big has happened.  A nearby TV monitor shows the wreckage of an airplane. The headline reads – Vista Air, Flight 477 has crashed into the ocean shortly after take-off. She is seized with the thought,  “I should have been on that flight but sent a young woman to her death in my place!” By exchanging identities with Eva, Claire has gone from becoming a missing wife to a world famous victim of a tragedy. Her face and her life story will be seen on televisions around the world.

Things from this point get very interesting. Claire digs into Eva’s purse for her house keys and it doesn’t take long after opening that front door to learn that she has been bamboozled. There was no sick husband. What was Eva running from?  Has she, now masquerading as Eva, stepped into a bigger minefield?

The suspense heightens as the story follows Claire in the present and her new life as Eva. Eva’s story begins in the past leading up to the identity exchange in the JFK airport. The novel masterfully keeps the unknown just out of reach. Tickle and tease the reader; think you have figured things out. Wrong. Somehow the two storylines complement each other; the pages turn faster and faster.

I am going admit that I read the book some time ago. When I started to reread the book to refresh my memory, I devoured it from start to finish again. There have been psychological thrillers that have scared me to death. This is not one. This thriller will have you gaining respect for each protagonist. How many of us have been trapped by circumstance? What would you do? Looking for a beach read this summer? Pick up a copy! The ending is very satisfying! No spoilers!

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WESTERING WOMEN: historical fiction

WESTERING WOMEN

Sandra Dallas
St. Martin’s Press
Historical Fiction
January 2020 – ARC Netgalley  ★★★☆☆

If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband? Do you want to instill God and Civilization and Righteousness in the westernmost part of our country?

What to do on a rainy day and suffering a 9.0 Richter scale head cold? Snuggle with a book with a simple and entertaining story-line. Sitting in my email inbox that morning, was an offer from St. Martin’s Press to read Westering Women in exchange for my review; a promising choice. Serendipity.

Being an adventuresome old woman, not necessarily of high moral character, I decided to  spent the day traveling with forty-three woman in a train of prairie schooners heading from St. Joe, Missouri to California. The book amused me but I won’t say it made me feel like I connected with the characters. As a woman born at a time when my father had to sign for my first credit card, I could relate to many of the misogynistic scenes; there were times I could see where the use of a good war club might serve as an attitude adjuster.

But there is always a place for a good sappy read that tosses out obvious hints and clues well in advance. It doesn’t take a genius to see where scolding a bratty child repeatedly be careful while crossing a raging river and being repeatedly ignored might lead to tragedy. Staying with that scene, days later the mother just hitches up her skirt and says … Oh,well. Life goes on. She’s with Jesus. I don’t have to worry about her anymore.

There was a healthy dose of Christianity sprinkled everywhere like holy water. Not a surprise to the reader as the trip was sponsored and led by two preachers. At the same time, the travelers’ faith comforted them and sustained them through, what was surely true in 1850s dash across the continent, soul bending moments.

As expected, not every woman on the journey headed out through hell and high water to get a husband. The twelve or so main characters each have a hidden secret that is revealed in the fullness of time.

There were the inevitable accidentals, cholera death, and clashes with Native Americans. Fragile women escaped brutal husbands and every man they encountered on the journey seemed to want “carnal knowledge” or provide a sound beating to the woman who dared to escape their wrath; justification in my mind to head west to start over leaving bozos behind – but as expected, the bozos just had to track down the women and give them grief; bad move guys. Don’t attack a pack of feisty women.

Let it be said that this old gal did raise a hand in salute at the strength and determination of the women to form a cohesive sisterhood; broken women can heal like a broken bone – stronger in the end.

Sandra Dallas fans will enjoy the story. As I said in the beginning, I enjoyed the read. Didn’t strain the brain and was an easy read that I never felt I had to just put it down. I will admit to a couple of -“on come on, really?” moments.

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THE BRIDGE BETWEEN: an Edisto novel


Still Waters: An Edisto novel #1 (Itzey review)

Glimpse of Still Waters ….. [Cora Ann Halloway looks at a photo] of a sunset view from Still Waters, Cora Ann’s grandparents’ [Edisto] beach cottage… A classic beach bungalow with the Atlantic in the background and seagrass waving in the breeze.”  A place filled with happy memories until one traumatic event chases her to the mainland where she learns that you can’t outrun some things. It is a story of love, sadness, and bonds of family that carry you through the hard times.

Dear Reader, If you have time, please read Still Waters, before diving into this second marvelous novel, The Bridge Between! Pull up a beach chair, a cold drink, feel the breeze, smell the pluff mud and listen to the rolling waves. It isn’t necessary that you do so, but the family you will fall in love with in Still Waters continues in this newest work. Having read both books, I feel I know the characters so well that I am surprised they are not neighbors of mine.

The Bridge Between opens where Still Waters endsOn Edisto Beach at Still Waters. In this latest novel, we look deeper into the events exposed in Still Waters offering context to life on Edisto after Nan’s death. Lou and her rambunctious triplets have moved into Still Waters. Lou’s ex-husband, David Halloway has moved onto the island with the hopes of a second chance. Cora Ann and Tennessee are still in a budding romance. And the triplets are still wreaking havoc in everyone’s daily lives as they rumble through the plot.

If you are meeting the Halloway family and their extended relatives and neighbors for the first time, it will take you a few chapters to come up to speed. Think of it as the first time you met your future-in-laws at holiday time. Perhaps it reminds you of returning home after a long time away to find that everyone’s life has moved on just like your own; circumstances and chance have intervened. You are faced with the fact that people make choices; and choices have consequences – both good and bad.

But deep down, at heart of things, that which drove people away hold seeds of better times and the potential to rekindle new memories and forgiveness. The Bridge Between is filled with emotions and feelings – hope, suspicion, anger, love, understanding, repentance, resolution, acceptance and deep convictions of faith.

Highly recommended for readers of women’s and Christian-centered fiction. A request to the author, please take us back to the island. Let us follow the triplets into adulthood and deeper into the futures of all our new family and friends.

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