REVIEW: A PLACE WE KNEW WELL, BY SUSAN CAROL MCCARTHY

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It was a time I remember well. The thirteen days when the Cuban Missile Crisis loomed over all of our lives, it would be even more traumatic for those living so close to Cuba, like the characters in A Place We Knew Well. Florida, where these characters lived, would seem like the place most affected by events as they unfolded.

Wes Avery, the owner of a Texaco service station, is the primary narrator. His wife Sarah seems to be going through a major crisis, and as the count-down to possible disaster continues, a number of events sharpen the emotional components in her world.

Daughter Charlotte has been nominated for Homecoming Queen, and her date is a young Cuban named Emilio. What does this signify to Sarah, who protests loudly?

Why does Sarah then curl up in their bomb shelter with the lights out? Is the past crushing her with the loss of hope and the death of dreams? Why does someone from their past suddenly appear, and how does this event change the landscape of their world?

The story moved very slowly in the beginning, but as the count-down continued, I felt more engaged. I was mostly bored by Wes and his thoughts and feelings, but eventually I started to connect with him.

Sarah felt like the typical bored housewife until some moments from her past are magnified.

Memorable times drove the story for me, and the characters became more likable later on. I read it mostly for the historic events, and how people struggled during those thirteen days. 3.5 stars.

MIX A SPLASH OF BETRAYAL WITH A FEW DROPS OF OUTRAGE….– A REVIEW

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When I first read the blurb for Ladies’ Night, I was especially drawn to the fact that the main character, Grace, was a “lifestyle blogger.” Yes, the author had me at “blogger.”

Also as a fan of all things cozy and beautiful, I was hooked immediately by this aspect of the story. But what kept me turning those pages were the events that changed Grace’s life in innumerable ways, and how, despite what seemed like her powerlessness, she rose above it. And then she began to take control. And reinvent herself.

Wouldn’t you, if your husband betrayed you, locked you out of your home and your blog, along with your bank accounts? The outrage I felt on her behalf, especially since he was the one who betrayed her…well, you can imagine the emotions engendered. But emotions like these can turn lives around in new directions.

And this is what makes this author’s work so readable. She grabs us emotionally and takes us along for the ride with the characters.

What will Grace do to jumpstart her new life? How will she manage to turn the most infuriating and even humiliating experiences into True Gold…or True Grace, if you will? And when she is presented with obstacles over and over, will she give up? Or will she find a way to turn everything around?

I could not put this book down. I loved the characters, the settings in beautiful Florida, and how the story kept me rooting for Grace and her new friends, Wyatt and Camryn; and I started to feel empathy and compassion for some of the unlikeable ones, too. This delightful tale follows a somewhat predictable path, in that we know that the characters will find a way to win out in the end. The fun is figuring out how they will do that. 4.5 stars.