Husband Material

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this women's fiction book about Charlotte Rosen, a widow, who is once again faced with the grief of her husband's death. When a fire breaks out at the place where her husbands ashes were kept and his ashes end up on her front door, Charlotte's life starts to unravel once again. For years she has planned and created a life free from risks. Five years later she needs to reconcile with her mother-in-law, who never liked her, meet her husband's best friend and try to come to terms with a secret she never knew about her husband. This book reminded me of the film Catch and Release and was filled with loss, forgiveness and a second chance at love and happiness.
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I really enjoyed this book! I really enjoyed Charlotte, the main character and I felt for her. I love Rom-Com's and while I was expecting this to be great, it was SO. MUCH. MORE. 

This story was one of love, grief, loss, and second chances. 

The characters are dynamic, complicated, and well fleshed out.
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My Thoughts
I am honored to be part of this blog tour and to share my thoughts on this book. Here are my pros and cons for Husband Material:

Pros

1.  I’m not sure what I expected from this novel, but it ended up being much more profound than I anticipated… and that is a compliment. This book tackled some tough issues and some deep-rooted, longstanding emotions between several characters and it did it in a way that wasn’t depressing. This book has a lot of heart, but it is also fun and witty. It is a unique combination that is often hard to pull off, but I think the author did the combination justice in this book.
2.  The engineering nerd in me loved the programming aspect of the book! However, I also thought it was great that the story points out that coding and algorithms cannot “design” or predict a perfect life or a perfect love. You can’t eliminate human interaction from the equation!
3.  I liked the style of the writing. It had an effortlessness to it and it was enjoyable to read.
4.  I liked Charlotte. She felt real, genuine, organic. We got to know her, flaws and all, and I really felt a connection with her.
5.  The secondary characters are great and well-developed.
6.  The scene when Charlotte finally decides what to do with the ashes of her deceased husband was extremely well-done.
7.  I thought the relationship between Charlotte and Brian was realistic, although I did find myself wondering why they didn’t reconnect sooner.
8.  Ultimately, this is a book about forgiveness, healing, and living life.

Cons

1.  I don’t think the book cover was a good choice. The book cover is cute and this type of cover tends to draw the eye and generate interest; however, it seems a bit lighthearted considering the topics that are addressed in the book.
2.  There was a secret revealed near the end of the book and I personally didn’t understand the need to include it in the story. I won’t reveal what happened, but suffice it to say it felt a little forced to me and unnecessary. I also felt like it belittled Charlotte’s relationship with her deceased husband a bit.

Summary
I enjoyed this book. I do think it is more contemporary women’s fiction rather than romance, so if you are looking for a strong romance novel, this may not be it for you. However, this is a good story that covers some weighty topics carefully and thoughtfully. I would recommend this novel to anyone that likes contemporary fiction.

Thank you NetGalley and HARLEQUIN – Graydon House Books for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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‘Husband Material’ sounded so great and I loved the cover. Unfortunately, I struggled so hard to get into this book. I’m not sure if it was the story, of the writing style, or my mood, but either way, this one didn’t work for me personally. I felt no real connection to the hero, and the heroine I didn’t care for. I think I expected more of a romance but it read much more like women’s fiction (which is what it’s classified, but with it being pubbed by Harlequin I assumed romance, that was my bad). The real MVP of this story was Charlotte’s roommate, Casey. I’d love to read more about her!
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I picked up Husband Material by Emily Belden thinking that it would be a fun romantic comedy.  It wasn’t, but it is decent contemporary fiction.  The premise of the story is great, and the characters are interesting.  I enjoyed Ms. Belden’s writing style, but I struggled with some aspects of the story.

Charlotte Rosen is a 29 year-old-widow, and part of the way that she avoids dealing with her loss is to keep that a secret from everyone in her “new” life.  I can see someone not wanting to be defined by that tragedy, but when her late husband’s ashes show up on her doorstep, it is clear that Charlotte’s secretiveness is about her unresolved issues.  Some of those issues include an acerbic MIL and the late husband’s best friend, Brian.  Both of these characters are unlikable; I couldn’t get past their deception, and I found it hard to accept how Charlotte responded to their explanations.

As a social influencer, Charlotte relies on numbers and spreadsheets.  She also relies on them to avoid accepting that the heart wants what the heart wants, no matter if the math doesn’t add up.  The discovery of a big secret and the multiple deceptions is the catalyst for Charlotte moving on with her life.  She is finally forced to deal with her past, and that allows her to stop using work as an excuse not to live her life to the fullest.

I loved Charlotte’s quirky roommate, Casey; she is a sparkling addition to the story.  I appreciated the messages about loss, grieving and second chances.  I’d give the writing 5-stars, the storytelling 4-stars (the plot slows for a while after the funny start to the book), but the denouement didn’t work for me.  Overall, a 3-star read for me.
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What I thought would be a pop-fiction with a 20-something trying to get married ended up being way more involved with feelings, and histories, and relationships than I originally expected.

This was definitely fun to read for a few days. I found Charlotte to be likable, but also a bit self-centered. Well, the book is about her, so I suppose that makes sense. But the plot seemed very smoothly laid out, and then resolved. Not being a widow, I suppose I’m in no place to comment on how she dealt with things, but it seemed quite neatly tied up to me.

There were a few minutes near the end when I thought maybe the happily-ever-after wasn’t going to be quite what I thought it would be, but that ended up being the whole point – for Charlotte to quit planning and being so confident in what to expect next.

I did love Charlotte’s job as a number-cruncher for a company who measures social media interaction. As a blogger and influencer myself from time to time, I felt I could relate a bit to that part of her life. It was also a unique job that I haven’t seen a character do before.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The epilogue wrapped it up nicely in the end. I do love being able to finish a book and not wonder about what might have happened to my new ‘friends’ in the book.
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Title:  Husband Material
Author:  Emily Belden
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Charlotte Rosen is 29, has a great job at an up-and-coming company, a data-driven mind, a cute dog, and a secret that not even her roommate for years knows:  she’s a widow. Since the day her world crumpled to pieces, Charlotte has done her best to move forward. Now she’s intent on going on enough dates—and gathering enough data—to find her perfect man.

What Charlotte wasn’t expecting was her late husband’s ashes to show up at her doorstep, a twist of fate that leaves her reeling—and reaching out. Now she’s determined to make sense of things, even if it means dealing with her formidable mother-in-law…or her late husband’s best friend. Then she discovers a secret so shocking it turns her memory of her husband on its head—and her search for answers leads her places she never would have imagined just days ago.

I liked Charlotte, with all her insecurities and neurotic tendencies. I can’t even imagine trying to keep something like a marriage and a husband a secret—although the way he died hit a little close to home for me. Charlotte has never really dealt with her loss and her guilt, but when those ashes show up at her door, she has no choice. The only thing that niggled at me during this read was how quickly her mother-in-law did an about-face…although I can kind of see it.

Emily Belden was a guest on The Today Show after she tiled her bedroom floor in over 60,000 pennies. Husband Material is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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Charlotte Rosen comes across as a strong, successful, and confident woman. A successful career woman proud of her accomplishments in the growing field of social media analytics. A woman who knows what she wants from life. These are all partial truths. Charlotte is successful in her career but she isn't overly confident with her job or social life. She comes across as aloof when she's actually somewhat of an introvert and closes herself off to protect her emotions. She has a roommate, but she doesn't really share all that much with her. She has a "bestie" at work, but only shares work-related materials with her. Charlotte is looking for love and marriage and has created an app to help her determine the compatibility of any "match" she receives from online dating services. She's confident in the app's predictability but has yet to meet someone that fulfills her requirements. Well, she had met someone years ago. She had actually married that someone, but sadly, he had died after only one year of marriage. Charlotte has been a widow for five years and the only people that know are those from before she started a new life and job, her former in-laws, and her parents. Then a bombshell is dropped on Charlotte, figuratively speaking. She unexpectedly receives the urn containing her deceased husband's cremains due to a fire at the cemetery. Charlotte's emotions are in a serious state of flux. Her roommate is shocked to learn of Charlotte's prior marriage. Charlotte's mother-in-law wants to "repossess" the urn, and her employer has given her a forced two week break as a result of her emotional state. The only good thing to come from this disastrous situation is that Charlotte has reconnected with an old friend, actually her deceased husband's best friend, Dr. Brian Jackson. The friendship quickly develops into something a bit more and just when Charlotte thinks her life is getting back on track, she is thrown by several huge secrets. 

Husband Material is actually the first book I've read by Emily Belden (trust me, it won't be the last), and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. If anything, this was one story that I didn't want to end simply because I enjoyed the interactions between Charlotte and her roommate Casey, Charlotte and Brian, and even the interactions between Charlotte and her former mother-in-law. I found the characters, action, and settings to be highly realistic and plausible. Charlotte isn't a self-absorbed person, just someone afraid of being hurt and emotionally closed-off due to the untimely death of her husband. Yes, she wants to move on, but she has relegated everything in the present to an if this-then that scenario. She's comfortable coding and has made every attempt to live her life by that binary code without thought about the limitations or repercussions toward herself or others. The primary lesson learned is the life and love can be unpredictable, unmanageable, and wholly unexpected. Although Husband Material is a romance, there are quite a lot of things going on in this story such as self-awareness, self-growth, grief management, and more. Although Husband Material deals with some heavy themes, this isn't a dark and dour read. Okay, it's not a light and fluffy read either, but it is an intriguing look at grief, recovery, and starting anew with a decidedly romantic bent. There are parts of the story that made me smile, parts that made me laugh, and parts that made me empathize with the sadness of the main character. If you're looking for something a little different to read to wrap up your yearly reading or to begin the new year, I encourage you to grab a copy of Husband Material by Emily Belden. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
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A quirky read that was kind of all over the place.

The blurb intrigued me and I decided to take a shot on this new to me author. I liked the book, it was unique and unlike anything I’d read before. The main character was somewhat relatable but clearly a mess. Her struggles were raw and understandable. Everyone deals with grief differently and she certainly took a unique approach.

Parts of this book seemed completely unbelievable, especially when it came to the heroine and her decisions or reactions to things. Also, the huge plot twist was like reading an entirely different book. It didn’t fit the story at all. It left me scratching my head as to why the author chose to throw it in there and upheave the entire story line.

I honestly couldn’t wrap my brain around how the romance portion played out. I get that the characters had deep history but it just seemed so unlikely that they’d end up together once all was said and done.

So in the end I enjoyed the book despite some of its major flaws. It was pretty humorous, definitely sad and a little sweet. A solid 3 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for my review.
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3.5/5 stars

What I liked:
*I really liked Charlotte and thought the portrayal of her attempts to move on from the death of her husband were so authentic and relatable. I can’t imagine losing my loved one, but if I did, I could see that retreating into data and facts to try to protect myself would be a very likely coping strategy for me, just like it was for Charlotte. I was surprised by how moved and empathetic I felt for all she was going through, and I thought her sense of humor was utter perfection.
*I also really liked Brian, the love interest. I thought the way he tiptoes around Charlotte, and his motives for doing the things he does, were also incredibly relatable and also totally adorable. I actually wished we got to know more about him, like maybe some chapters from his perspective. That said, I think it was actually perfect the way it is written, all from Charlotte’s perspective, given that there are a couple of plot surprises that work best sticking to her perspective only. I just thought Brian was funny and would’ve loved a view into his brain.
*The commentary on life, work, friendship, and dating as a young adult in LA was totally spot-on and hilarious. I loved the banter, the ridiculous things Charlotte has to deal with like totally out-there boutique owners, snarky interns at work, and dates who wanted sex contracts. I had many good laughs!

What didn’t work so well:
*A few of the characters were a little too simplistic for my taste. For example, Decker’s mom felt like a caricature of the rich and entitled parent. And even though we get to see a glimpse of more complexity, it is all a little too “neat” and plot-serving for my taste. I just wasn’t sure I could quite believe a person would act the way she did at various point throughout the story. But this is a minor issue, and one I’m willing to overlook because of how much I liked the rest.
*I kinda wanted more on the romance front. I think because it is a story about a widow who is finally laying her loved one to rest, metaphorically speaking, this may not have been possible without losing authenticity. But just, Charlotte and Brian are so darn cute, and I wanted a little moooooore of it.
*The pacing was a little off, and felt like it was slooooooooow and then really fast at the end. I know there was a lot to set up and a fair amount of internal turmoil and growth to go through, but it still just didn’t feel totally balanced to me.

Those are all my thoughts on this one. I like the depth of the characters, some of the hilarious situations and commentary on what it’s like to be a young adult in LA. I found myself cracking up (cackling) a few times and tearing up a few times, and I like any book that can do both for me.
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This book was just what I needed! Sweet, quirky, and delightful. Not really a romcom more like women’s fiction with a sprinkling of humor and a generous dollop of romance. This is the story of Charlotte who is in her 20s and lost her husband five years ago. Unsure of how to navigate being such a young widow and not wanting the label Charlotte has made it that no one in her life knows that she was ever even married. She has re-entered the dating field but treats it more like a math problem than anything else. Using an algorithm to find the perfect man. BUT everything is turned topsy-turvy when she gets a surprise package with her husband’s ashes inside. Charlotte is now forced to face the past, the truth, and her future. What follows is an engaging story filled with memories, tenderness, heartbreak, hope, forgiveness, and closure.

   Charlotte may not have been the most relatable character, but I had a lot of sympathy for her. She had lost her husband at such a young age and was still caring around so much grief and guilt. Her neurotic tendencies really did not help the situation. She had kind of isolated herself from people, avoiding ever being hurt again, and also avoiding ever being loved again. I found the secondary characters roommate Casey and love interest Brian much more interesting than Charlotte if I’m being honest. Brian was a pretty great guy and I loved all the interactions with him. Casey was the perfect counterbalance to Charlotte, and I loved how eventually she basically told her how it is! Later in the story there is a secret revealed and I think Charlotte handled it much better than I might have. I love watching Charlotte bro and rediscover herself throughout the course of this book. Emily Belden has written a clever refreshing story and I’m looking forward to the next book from this author.

This book in emojis 👩🏻‍💻 🐶 ⚾️ 🍨 ⚱️ 

🎧🎧🎧 The audiobook was narrated by Piper Goodeve. I truly believe this made the story more relatable to me, she gave Charlotte a human side. Charlotte was kind of a dry character, but I think piper’s voice made her more lively. And more relatable. This might be a book I liked more because I listen to it rather than read it.

*** Big thanks to Harlequin and Harper Audio for my copy of this book ***
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I randomly requested this on NetGalley one day, hoping to find a new favorite contemporary author. When I went to start reading it, I realized that I'd just recently enjoyed the author's previous book, Hot Mess. That made me really hopeful! Unfortunately, this one didn't work for me. I struggled with the heroine and hated the guy who ended up being the hero. He did two things that would have been unforgivable for me, regardless of his motives. The numerous references to the heroine's Apple Watch + other trendy places/brands grated on my nerves. It didn't truly go downhill for me until after the first half, which is why I stuck with it until the end. By then, I was So Over It. I wish there'd been more depth to the characters and story!
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(This review was commissioned by Harper Collins.)

You guys; this novel was so unexpected for me. During this hectic time of year my attention is hard to nail down but 'Husband Material' had me from page one and didn't let me go- it still hasn't.

Charlotte's world and her voice and her lack of perfection were super duper endearing and her love for her late husband and desire to avoid anything that brings back the pain of losing him were elements of her character that I recognized and related to; and the way she approaches everything from a numbers based approach was so nerdy and so the kind of thing your best friend would confess she does over drinks or mani/pedis- and only make you love her more.

The cast of characters in her world are so vivid and easy to relate to (even the evil M-I-L whose first and last names are identical to my own mother, which made me laugh and also made me really uncomfortable) and made her story a place I will want to hang out again and again. Thank you, Emily Belden, for breaking up the holidays with something edgy and fun.

'Husband Material' drops December 30th and will be a perfect way to shake off the holiday hangovers.
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Man, this story was all over the place. I just could not connect with Charlotte, or the other characters in this book. I think there's potential in this story, but it was just not executed in a way that I invested in.

When her late husband's ashes are unexpectedly delivered to her one night, Charlotte's life is thrown upside down as she realizes that she never really mourned Decker's death. There's some arguing with her former mother-in-law, and a confrontation with Decker's best friend, Brian, whom Charlotte can't stand. There's a big secret revealed about Decker's past.... and I saw it coming a mile away. I'd be pissed if I were her, but the story really had enough going on without this additional plot point.

I wouldn't classify this as a romance -- it's more women's fiction with a romantic subplot. But I wasn't invested enough in Charlotte and Brian to even care about them as a couple, unfortunately. Ultimately, I gave up and did not finish, which I hate to do when I'm reading an advanced copy. But this one just didn't do it.

I received an advanced copy via NetGalley and the publisher and voluntarily left a review.
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Husband material is about one women's road through grief. There is a lot to contemplate, through her own grief at her husband's death, dealing with the grief of her in-laws and how to relate to her husband's best friend. There's a secret tied up in all this that makes matters worse. I wouldn't call this a romance; there is very little involved in this story. There is a lot about relationships, honesty, and hope, and because of that, it's worth reading.
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Husband Material is a romantic tale that is filled with both wit and heart.  It follows twenty-nine year old Charlotte Rosen, a young woman who seems to have it all. She lives in L.A. and has a great job working as a social media analyst. Charlotte is not only a rising star at her firm, but she is also a whiz at numbers, algorithms, and programming, and so as a side project, she’s also developing her own dating app in hopes of one day turning it into a big money maker for herself. Charlotte is convinced that she can pull enough data from the internet (social media, etc.) to determine who would be most compatible.  As she is also in the market for Mr. Right, Charlotte is using herself as a test subject to work out the kinks in her app.

Charlotte is all about the numbers and the data. She sees everything in life in black and white, 0s and 1s. Everything has a right and wrong answer…until life throws a curve ball at her in the form of her dead husband’s ashes, which show up on her doorstep in a J. Crew box. Not only is this incredibly awkward because Charlotte hasn’t told anyone in LA. that she’s a widow, but it also exposes old wounds, unresolved issues, and of course the immense grief that Charlotte thought she was moving past. In order to begin the healing process anew, Charlotte has to reopen doors she thought were closed, including rekindling an awkward and painful relationship with her ex mother-in-law, as well as an unexpected one with her dead husband’s best friend.  With these encounters, Charlotte realizes her numbers and data will only take her so far, and that not everything in life is black and white.  There’s a lot of gray, more gray than she ever thought possible.

Charlotte’s growth throughout the story is what really made this book work for me.  I actually found her a little annoying at the beginning because she was just so borderline arrogant about how her skills with numbers were the answer to everything.  The can of worms that the urn showing up opened really turned Charlotte’s life upside down and I liked watching her have to re-evaluate and adapt her view of the world. Even though she annoyed me in the beginning, by the end of the story, I adored Charlotte and was sad to have to say goodbye.

In addition to creating such a complex character who shows so much growth in the story, I also thought Belden did a wonderful job of making Charlotte’s experience of loss and grief feel so authentic. I read at the end that she actually interviewed widows to discuss their experiences and that research really shines through with the range of emotions that Charlotte goes through each day and the unexpected things that can suddenly trigger an emotional reaction.

I also really liked that even though the book dealt with the very serious subject of grief and healing, it still overall felt like a very lighthearted read.  It was entertaining and heartfelt at the same time and was written in such a vivid way that I could easily picture it as a film on the big screen while I was reading.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming story about love, family, and finding a way to move on from the past, Emily Belden’s Husband Material is a great choice.  On sale, December 30, 2019.
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If you had to sum up this book in one word it would definitely be cute or adorable. It's a fun and sassy romantic comedy that tackles grief, interactions with those you may have a new relationship with and finding new love. Charlotte is very data oriented, but it's somewhat of a shield for her so she can keep herself safe. There's definitely some avoidance on her part and a lot of ways in which she needs to come to terms with some things and grow.

I would definitely go into this book with the idea that it will be a fun read and for the most part light but full of heart. I could have used a little more dimension to some of the characters, but overall I did enjoy the adventure that was this book and would definitely recommend it.
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Charlotte Rosen does nothing better than making magic with numbers and data. However, her love life leaves a lot to be desired...

She has a great job at a social media analytic company, with the focus of bringing couples together. Charlotte has a gift of matching people based on her algorithms. When she suddenly receives her late husband Decker's ashes - as the mausoleum where they were stored was in the direct path of a disastrous wildfire.

What is Charlotte going to do with these ashes? Furthermore, what is she going to do now that her ex-mother-in-law Debbie Austin is back, in her face, and is demanding custody of said ashes? Another person back in her life is her ex-husband's best friend Brian. And, as if things were not complicated enough, Charlotte has discovered a shocking secret that makes Charlotte begin to question several things about her life, her marriage, and her future.

While trying to keep the ashes out of Debbie's clutches she struggles to locate a place to rehome the ashes. Meanwhile, she is still crunching numbers when it comes to work. At some point she even runs her algorithm on Brian. For one thing, he is always in her face, trying to help her in one way or another. For another thing, she finds herself drawn to him. Hmm, she wonders, could Brian be the ONE? Well, important matters are at hand, and finding her own happily ever after just might not be something Charlotte feels she can handle right now.

The cover indicates that this just might be a lighthearted read. To be fair, there is a good amount of humor in this book, definitely making this quite a delightful read, but there is a level of seriousness included, as Charlotte must grieve yet a second time in her life. But, back to the humor. I so loved the scenes when Charlotte was struggling to keep the ashes out of Debbie's hands. Laugh out loud funny to be sure. The other part of the story that I couldn't help but laugh at was at how Charlotte tried to pocket ever part of her life into her analytics.

I so loved this book by Emily Belden! This is my first book by her and it will certainly not be my past.

Many thanks to Harlequin and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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Thanks to Netgalley and HARLEQUIN-Graydon House Books for an egalley in exchange for an honest review

Cute. Yes, that is exactly how I would classify this contemporary romance fiction novel starring our female protagonist, Charlotte Rosen. Working at an influencer firm and living with a quirky roommate, Charlotte continues to strike out in love. Heck, don't we all? But when a mysterious parcel shows up on her doorstep, Charlotte is confronted with the lesson that sometimes we have to deal with the past, before we can wield out any type of future.

I read my ARC between a few heavier subjects and Husband Material certainly was a good palate cleanser. Charlotte and I may not have had the strongest of relationships, but I didn't dislike her either. That is probably because Emily Belden creates fantastic secondary characters that helped tip the scales for me to appreciate Charlotte's conflict with her past.


But..... I didn't buy the "ship" between Charlotte and another character. I wasn't knocked off my feet and I never was convinced that Charlotte was either.



Goodreads review published 17/12/19
Publication Date 30/12/19
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Well this is my first read by this author and probably my last. I read it all but really have nothing to say because it was just ok. The best part was there few grammatical errors but maybe an editor could have helped more with the plot and making the characters more likable and relate-able. The humor of the story quickly ends at the beginning and the story becomes all about lies and deception along with betrayal. This book didn't work for me but that doesn't mean it's a bad story just not my speed.
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