Cover Image: Maribelle’s Shadow

Maribelle’s Shadow

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Member Reviews

Maribelle's Shadow was super interesting! Early in the story you are introduced to Maribelle and her husband Samuel. The couple are childless, middle aged philanthropists and well known moguls in Palm Beach, but their image on the outside is deceiving. Right from the first page Maribelle is contemplating whether or not to confront her husband about his affair(s) and look at their future, but she doesn't get the chance before he leaves for an ill-fated boat ride, and little does she know, she wont ever have the chance. Following Samuel's unexpected death, Maribelle's family and their family business are left in an uproar as they begin to see that Samuel had some unexpected expenditures and was responsible for losing millions of company dollars in recent years. Can a tight-knit family keep up appearances in the middle of this scandal, or do Maribelle and her sisters risk losing everything they have? You'll have to read to find out!

I enjoyed the slow reveal of information and the difficulty that created in getting a true sense of who Samuel really was. I felt a bit like the forensic accountant the family hired, trying to piece together what really happened in Samuel's office and in the business accounts! I liked the age-range and personality differences between the three sisters and the involvement of other supporting characters, like their children and partners, their mother Lucinda, and their interesting Aunt Bryant, as well as all of the people who came and spoke at Samuel's funeral, there were many interesting characters, that's for sure! It would be a great book for you if you like high society books and family drama. It was a little suspenseful but not too scary for me! I look forward to checking out the author's other books!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read and review this book!

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An interesting story but I had a difficult time engaging with the characters. Te writing was atmospheric of life in Palm Beach.
Many thanks to Beaufort Booksand to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Maribelle Walker is part of the Palm Beach social scene and when her husband suddenly dies she and her sisters become the food for the gossip mill. She is an editor for the Palm Beach Confidential and as their carefully constructed image unravels, each sister realizes she must fend for herself. The pathway out is steep and worth any risk. Until the winner takes all. Story of family and false lives.

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I'd been saving this book for my recent vacation in Florida 🏝️🍊 I was just across the inlet of Palm Beach as I opened this book and began to read...📖🏖️

I always find Palm Beach society fascinating even though it can be superficial. This story focuses on an affluent family, The Barrows of Palm Beach. The family originated from the Panhandle region of the state but they have carefully constructed a new way of life and do not now mention their origins. There's the matriarch, Lucinda and her three daughters, Maribelle, Caroline and Raleigh. Each one of the daughters are married and two of the husbands work in the family business. At the beginning of the story Maribelle's husband tragically dies. Just what happened to him and who is keeping secrets? That's the basis of the story.

What I really enjoyed about the story was the Palm Beach locations mentioned and the way of life. I am familiar with most of the places and it was interesting to hear about them in the book. The story was slow paced but I still found it intriguing. There's a mystery to it but it was pretty much predictable. I did not quite connect to the family as I didn't feel the sisters were fully developed. It was hard to root for anyone really. I did enjoy it for the most part and I would try something else from this author again.

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Maribelle’s Shadow by Susannah Marren was a very gripping read.
I enjoyed reading this story and was sucked in pretty quickly.
This book is filled with mystery, suspense and shocking moments.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank You NetGalley and Beaufort Books for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing

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A new to me author and, if I am totally honest, not a genre of book I would pick up off the shelf and buy for myself. However, aware of just how well the folks at Meryl Moss Media Group know me by now, when the review opportunity was offered, I knew I probably wouldn't be disappointed. It was definitely worth the punt!

Even though I suspected, correctly as it turned out, some of the multitude of twists this storyline had to offer, there was still so much which eluded me, with events and revelations I most definitely never saw coming. At times I was almost ashamed to admit to being a woman. I had no idea there were so many manipulative, bitchy females out there. I must have led a very sheltered life!

Anyway, you have no idea what I am talking about, so let's get down to the storyline...

It is the start of the 'high season' in Palm Beach, so everyone who is anyone, is due in town anytime soon. For the Barrows women; matriarch and mother Lucinda, her best friend and godmother to her daughters Aunty Bryant, and three daughters Maribelle, Caroline and Raleigh, now is the time to prepare to be seen in all the right places, at only the very best gatherings, always dressed to impress and with the right man by your side; cue her three sons-in-law, Samuel, Travis and Alex. Lucinda's first husband, father of her children and founder of the Barrows empire, Reed, passed away some years ago and now Lucinda is married to the equally distinguished and eminently suitable William.

Unfortunately, the family have to work harder than many to maintain their good name, authenticity and fine standing, as unlike so many of their wealthy counterparts, neither their fortune nor their status is inherited, or came naturally to them. Life for them began on the wrong side of the tracks, in the Florida Panhandle, something they try never to speak about or be reminded of. Lucinda has long since shaken the dirt poor dust from her shoes and conveniently side-lined the homegrown family members who still live there. Even their altruistic and philanthropic charitable activities, are carefully choreographed, so as to outwardly appear all-encompassing, but in reality, only truly benefitting those organisations or individuals which will visibly elevate the Barrows status and kudos amongst their select group of acquaintances.

Scratch the surface of this seemingly perfect family empire though and the cracks quickly begin to show, tap it gently and it starts to crumble in front of your eyes...

Samuel definitely looks and acts like the golden boy of the Barrows dynasty, although wife Maribelle knows differently, or at least she thinks she does! When Samuel very inconveniently and unexpectedly dies, her world is about to be rocked to its very core several times, as each new revelation about her wayward husband and duplicitous, self-centred family unfolds. Following her son-in-law's death, Lucinda's power play actions are inadvertently the catalyst which sets Maribelle on a course to rethink her entire life, something which she suspects, had already been happening subliminally for some considerable time. With the exit stakes becoming ever higher and more dangerous, Maribelle realises that there can be no going back, when both her mother and sisters openly express their disdain for and their wish to have, her distance herself from them, before their remaining reputations and aspirations are damaged irrevocably. In this female controlled family, loyalty needs to be unquestioning and unequivocal. You are very much either with them, or against them. There is no middle ground and they take no prisoners, not even one of their own!


This fast-paced, multi-layered, yet easy to follow storyline, is narrated by each of the three sisters and told from their individual perspectives, in short, well-signposted chapters. As their carefully constructed images unravel and their aspirations are challenged, each sister realizes she must fend for herself and fight for not only what she longs for, but believes in. However, with the tension between our protagonists building to a bitter and almost certainly acrimonious crescendo, it becomes obvious that not everyone is going to escape unscathed by the experience.

Author Susannah Marren, explores in great detail the power of women to succeed, by fair means or foul. Lucinda has become an expert in allowing her male contemporaries to believe that they rule the roost and have absolute authority, when in fact they are being manipulated every step of the way, by the wiles of an even stronger and more ruthless woman. These are traits she has nurtured and propagated in her three daughters and their respective husbands, although she has recently had cause to become disappointed with one or more of them, a scenario which cannot be allowed to continue and must be punished most severely.

Whilst each of the cast is well defined, fleshed-out and easy to visualise, intrinsically, everything about them is superficial and insincere, with none of them having any true depth of character. Any genuine feelings are always supressed under a thin outer veneer of entitlement, bravado and one-upmanship, with life being a constant struggle to achieve top ranking status and then to maintain that position, no matter whose shoulders you need to stand on to attain such lofty heights, or which reputations you need to trample underfoot and destroy along the way. Definitely not characters I could either invest in, relate to, or empathise with. And as for any of them stooping so low as to crack a smile or interact in a positive way with their children, other than by showering them with possessions and contrived 'play dates' and parties, that simply wasn't going to happen, thus making for a continually tense and claustrophobic atmosphere, where everyone seemed to be treading on eggshells, in an effort to fit into the required mould as a Barrows protegee.

I really don't think that Palm Beach would be my kind of place, not because I feel that any of the residents or other visitors would be any better than me, even though they may consider themselves to be far superior. But simply because of all the posturing, posing and incessant name dropping, which would really get on my nerves, as it is so overtly superficial, false and affected. That aside, the author did a great job of making me feel as though I was actually there and part of the unfolding saga, with some wonderfully detailed and descriptive narrative and dialogue, setting the scene and offering a great sense of time and place. What more could this dedicated 'armchair traveller' ask for?

I marked this one down to four stars, for no other reason than that the constant top-to-toe listing of every designer name and brand label, whenever someone walked into a space or joined a gathering, became rather tiresome after a while. However, I am certain that for any dedicated fashionistas that will be a problem you will love to have. You will be in your element and definitely not disappointed.

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EXCERPT: '.....It's about my family.'
When Raleigh said this, she realized how little her mother and sisters considered her marriage and child. Almost as if she came upon Alex and Caleb when she was out doing errands one day. After an hour at Publix she had returned with the goods - a husband and small son along with pineapples and papaya. What Alex said about people was true, including her family, especially her family. There were plenty of ulterior motives and a shortage of empathy.

ABOUT 'MARIBELLE'S SHADOW': The only thing that spreads faster than gossip in Palm Beach is news of a mysterious death.

As the editorial director of Palm Beach Confidential , Maribelle Walker knows what lurks beneath the glittering facade of the moneyed elite on Florida’s most glamorous coast. Or does she?

When her adored and impressive husband, Samuel, dies suddenly, the secrets and lies between Maribelle and her sisters rise to the surface. Compounding the anguish, the authenticity of their socially ambitious mother and lavish lifestyle of mansions, privilege and couture clothes is thrown into doubt.

As their carefully constructed image unravels, each sister realizes she must fend for herself. The pathway out is steep and worth any risk. Until the winner takes all.

MY THOUGHTS: I had a shortage of empathy for all the characters in this book and was unable to relate to any of them.

The pace is extremely slow. To the point of stagnation. My interest flared briefly around the 30% mark but then waned again and I skimmed the final 50% of the book totally disinterested.

The characters are flat and uninteresting. It's all about image. Maribelle's husband cheats on her, yet she stays . . .

In retrospect, I should have abandoned this read and, really, I don't know why I didn't. Even the reveals at the end of the book didn't make it worth the read.

A definite case of 'cover love' gone wrong.


#MaribellesShadow #NetGalley

I: @susannahshapirobarash @beaufortbooks

T: @susannahmarren @BeaufortBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama

THE AUTHOR: Marren is the pen name of Susan Shapiro Barash, who has firm roots in Long Beach Island. She has authored 13 nonfiction works concerning women’s issues in addition to her fiction novels

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Beaufort Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Maribelle's Shadow by Susannah Marren for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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I thought this book was okay. It wasn’t really in the usual type of books I read which is mainly why I didn’t enjoy it as much. It was much slower paced than I am used too. The story was great. The drama between the sisters is definitely what kept me reading. The mom however was probably one of my least favorite characters. Besides Samuel. I also enjoyed the morally grey areas in this book.

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I finished this book but I did not care for it. Three daughters and a controlling mother are bought together after the husband of one of the daughters is killed in a boating accident. Missing money, extramarital affairs dominate the book. I will not recommend this.

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Heart pounding thriller that left me on the edge of my seat. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. Definitely one of the best books this year.

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