Today’s Cozy Read author is Robyn Carr, a prolific writer of romance novels usually set in California and The Life She Wants is no exception. While it begins in New York City, main character Emma Shay Compton is from Sonoma, California, and when her fairy tale life with the immensely wealthy financier Richard Compton crashes, she is convinced by the one friend who has supported her through it all to return to Sonoma where she at least has a few friends and can make a fresh start. . . if the press, the police, the F.B.I., angry investors, and her former best friend will give her a chance.
Emma hasn’t had it easy despite the last 10 years living in the fabulous Compton penthouse in Manhattan. Her mother died when she was little, her father remarried a woman who clearly couldn’t stand her and doted instead on her daughter from a previous marriage and the daughter she had with Emma’s father. If it hadn’t been for the Kerrigan clan — her best friend Riley, her mother, and her brother Adam — Emma wouldn’t have felt loved at all. She might have even become suicidal. It was almost unbearable after her father died when she was 16. But the Kerrigan’s knew about grief and loneliness. Riley’s father had died before she even moved to Sonoma and the family wrapped its arms around Emma and got her through it. When she went off to college, it was only natural that Riley and Emma’s boyfriend Jock, would get together and commiserate that their best friend was absent. At college, Emma moved on into a glittery social life while back at home, her best friends moved on as well — and into a relationship that ruined their friendships.
When the SEC began investigating Richard’s company for securities fraud, Emma began to sit up and take notice. Little things, at first, she’d thought nothing of at the time, but they all started to add up — had he married her because she was too stupid to question what was going on around her? She went to court with him not to give him support, but to learn what he’d been doing. She didn’t testify against him because there was nothing she could add — she knew nothing! He’d been incredibly smooth and it would be a long time before she learned the full extent of his deception. When it became apparent he would spend a long time in jail and have nothing when he came out, he killed himself. Emma was left with nothing — some linen and towels, kitchenware, glasses, placemats, photos, a few personal items, and the $9,000 she had coming into the marriage that she was keeping as an emergency fund.
Emma knew she had to be open about who she was — it was too easy to find information about anyone on the Internet so trying a new identity and expecting to go unnoticed was absolutely not an option. Lots of people still assumed she had known what had been going on and had money hidden away somewhere. Lots of people had lost everything they had. At first, the best she could find was waitressing, and when she was fired from that, she tried housekeeping in a hospital — until a co-worker realized who she was and attacked her with a ripe bedpan causing her to fall and injure herself. It began to look like a choice between food stamps and turning to her former friend, Riley with her extensive cleaning empire if she was going to make it. They wouldn’t ever be friends again but could they be employer and employee?
This was a very interesting plot with a variety of characters, many with trust issues and some who have made something of themselves through adversity. There’s a bit of something for everyone: high finance, home decorating, behind the scenes of residential cleaning, hospital housekeeping, rescued dogs, combined families that work or don’t, counselling services, and trying to rebuild damaged relationships. A very fast read with lots of red herrings and people who care. Definitely a cozy read! * * * *
Cozy Read Wednesday is a new meme. No list of rules — just leave a comment with a link to your Cozy Read published on Wednesday and feel free to use the Cozy Read Wednesday icon on your site. I look forward to your recommendations.