by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.
Image consultant Allison Campbell specializes in helping clients reinvent themselves while projecting confidence and charisma. That’s the last thing Allison is feeling, though, when she receives a call from Leah Fairweather. Not only does this blast from the past announce that Leah’s husband Scott was murdered, but Leah drops the bomb that Allison was Scott’s last appointment on the day he died. Scott was a regrettable mistake Allison had made four years ago when she crossed a line with a client during a troubled time in her marriage. She’s only glimpsed him briefly since then, so learning that he may have tried to contact her is upsetting.
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Far more disturbing are the explicit photographs that begin to be dropped off, first at her home and then her friends’ homes, which reveal a side to Scott she never knew existed. After a tragedy destroyed her marriage, Allison and her ex-husband have begun to repair their relationship, but that’s in jeopardy now. To protect her future, Allison is forced into exploring whether she ever really knew Scott, and why someone seems determined to ruin her life again.
It’s not surprising that Allison created a career helping others forge new lives for themselves, as she too has remade her own to escape the past. Allison’s mentally ill mother is disintegrating with Alzheimer’s and her abusive father remains cold and distant. Everything changes, though, with the reappearance of the substance-abusing sister who ran away fifteen years ago, bringing with her a secret that could surprisingly save their fractured family.
Narratives alternate in this continually shifting novel as characters evaluate their relationships with old lovers and are surprised by new ones. The main plot holds all of the stories together, and it’s Allison who drives the mystery with her compulsions and vulnerability. Despite her strong exterior, Allison has never felt secure in her own happiness and she’s haunted by the fear that it could be taken away at a moment’s notice.
Allison’s support system includes her mentor and former mother-in-law, Mia; her business manager/partner, Vaughn; and her boyfriend/ex-husband Jason. While each has their own challenges and flaws, together they’ve become a family far more real than her own. This is a unique and enjoyable series of reinvention and—oddly enough—acceptance.
To enter to win a copy of Dying Brand, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Deep,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 6, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & to indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy: