The Stepmother
  • The Stepmother
  • The Stepmother

The Stepmother

3.7 9
by Carrie Adams

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Bea Frazier hoped she'd rediscover her incredible self after divorcing Jimmy. But being home alone with three daughters brings her demons back with a vengeance. The only solution is to reunite her family. The trouble is, her ex is about to marry someone else.

Tessa King has finally found true love, but her knight in shining armor comes with three sullen

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Bea Frazier hoped she'd rediscover her incredible self after divorcing Jimmy. But being home alone with three daughters brings her demons back with a vengeance. The only solution is to reunite her family. The trouble is, her ex is about to marry someone else.

Tessa King has finally found true love, but her knight in shining armor comes with three sullen daughters and an ex who doesn't seem nearly "ex" enough. After years of singledom, what does Tessa have to do to finally live happily ever after?

As the two women negotiate carpools, puberty, and family loyalties, each finds it almost impossible not to fall into the old cliché of the bitter first wife and the wicked stepmother. But if Bea and Tessa are brave enough, they just may find a friend where they once saw an enemy. . . .

Absorbing and touching, humorous and honest, The Stepmother reminds us that there is always another side to the story.

Editorial Reviews

Kate Jacobs
“A refreshingly honest, realistic, and clever look at family, love, and the tangling up of several lives. You will laugh and nod your head in recognition, all while racing through the pages to see how it comes together. I absolutely adored this book!”
Parenting Magazine
“[A] terrific novel...In The Stepmother, by Carrie Adams, Bea has to learn how to accept her ex’s soon-to-be second wife while she struggles to get over him, deal with her daughters, and get a life.”
“Adams injects her romantic soap opera with large dollops of pathos, culminating in a fairy-tale ending to this enjoyable and uplifting read.”
Publishers Weekly

Adams follows up 2006's The Godmother with a perceptive chick noir, once again debunking the notion that everything's smooth sailing once you've found the love of your life. Tessa King (heroine of Adams's first novel) has finally nabbed hers: James, an older man with three charming daughters from a previous marriage. These daughters-including daddy's girl extraordinaire, 14-year-old Amber-don't seem so lovely once stepmother-in-waiting Tessa has to deal with their dirty school uniforms and petty jealousies. Nor did Tessa sign up for the emotional baggage of James's ex-wife, Bea, who broke James's heart. With all the angst, how's a girl supposed to plan the perfect white wedding? Meanwhile, Bea-who shares narration duty-still has a torch burning for James and has buried years of regret and guilt under binge eating and, soon, compulsive drinking. Family dramas and crises bring Bea and Tessa together with surprising results. Particularly refreshing are Tessa's and Bea's co-starring roles, which allows Adams to explore in sometimes painful detail how the real work begins once you've got the diamond ring. Fans of Marian Keyes and Emily Giffin will enjoy Adams's engrossing second outing. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Bea, a divorced mother of three daughters, is overweight, drinks too much, and has issues with her mother. Tessa, a successful lawyer, is single, pushing 40, and beautiful. Unfortunately, they are both in love with the same man, Bea's ex, Jimmy, whom Tessa calls James. The names are just the beginning of the differences in their relationships. When James introduces Tessa to his daughters, the little girls are easygoing, but the 14-year-old seems a bit difficult. Tessa has great friends and amazing parents to ask for advice, and by taking their advice, using her godchildren as foils, and bribing the kids, she manages to earn their grudging respect. Meanwhile, Bea's life is sliding downhill rapidly. When disaster strikes, the whole family pulls together to work things out-but that leaves Tessa out in the cold. Or does it? Alternating between Tessa's and Bea's viewpoints, this fun sequel to The Godmother is a well- written, punchy fairy tale of a story. Highly recommended for all public libraries.
—Stacy Alesi

Kirkus Reviews
In this sequel to The Godmother (2007), British author Adams coasts from chick lit to mother-hen lit. Although Bea, 42, chose to break up her marriage to Jimmy, she still loves him. While they were married Bea worked as a journalist, but, with her mother's financial help, she has been able to stay home with her three daughters since the divorce. Everyone with whom Bea has remained close, including Jimmy and his family, considers her a perfect mother, but overweight Bea is desperately lonely and unhappy. Just as she finds the courage to tell Jimmy she wants to try again, she learns about Tessa, Jimmy's new love (Tessa calls him James). In her late 30s, Tessa is a slim and relatively glamorous record-company lawyer, but she's also devoted to her friends' children and less secure than she might appear. She assumes Bea is a superwoman/mom and struggles mightily to find a place for herself in James/Jimmy's children's lives. The younger two are emotionally open but 14-year-old Amber, torn by her mixed loyalties to her parents, resists. At first Bea wins readers' sympathies and Tessa seems the interloper, but the roles become less clear cut as Tessa genuinely embraces the children while Bea embraces a "miracle diet" which consists of eating nothing while drinking to unconsciousness. Amber, who has begun an innocent romance with Tessa's 17-year-old godson Caspar, covers for Bea until a crisis in Tessa's parents' lives brings Bea's secrets out into the open. Tessa learns the truth behind Bea's divorce: post-abortion guilt, offered as a less-than-convincing excuse for Bea's alcoholism. Newly self-sacrificing Tessa sends James/Jimmy back to an already reformed Bea to sort out their relationship onceand for all. Not to worry, he is quick to realize that there is "love" and then there is "in love."The platitudes and occasional preaching go down pretty smoothly thanks to Adams's sharp but good-natured wit. Agent: Dorian Karchmar/William Morris Agency

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Stepmother

A Novel

By Carrie Adams
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009

Carrie Adams
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061232657

Chapter One

Crunchy Nut

I was surrounded by laughter but, for once, couldn't even pretend to join in. I wanted to place one of my daughters on my lap and hug her tightly, but I had taught myself not to do that. At eight, even my youngest considered herself too old for such public displays of affection. On our own at home was fine, but that wasn't when I needed her protection. I felt a hand land on my shoulder, and I automatically formed a smile as I turned.

"Thank you so much for everything you've done," said the woman looking down at me.

"I'm happy to help," I replied.

"Everyone tells me you've been amazing."

My eight-year-old beamed. If her headmistress said I was amazing, I must be doing something right.

"I am so looking forward to this," the imposing woman said as she took her seat. The nerves tightened. My nine-year-old, sitting on the other side of me, had not noticed the giant presence of her principal, because she was too busy craning her neck to search the back of the room. Ever since we'd sat down, she'd been keeping a vigilant eye on the entrance. I eased her shoulders round to face the stage. "He'll be here," I said, glancing at the empty seat. "Don't worry."

"I'm not worried," she said, immediately turning back.

The lights dimmedand an awed murmur rose up from the assorted parents, siblings, and extras, and dissolved into a hush. Four worried chestnut-colored eyes sought mine in the gloom of the darkened assembly hall.

"He'll be here," I said again, taking their hands, and, as the first note drifted up from the piano, he was.

"Daddy!" squeaked the girls, bouncing off their chairs.

Jimmy eased his way along the narrow aisle with such charm that no one other than me seemed to mind. He even stopped to kiss a particularly good friend of ours, and shook some of the other dads' hands. "Sit down," I mouthed at him.

He leaned over and kissed me, then both of the girls. "Sorry," he said. "Meeting went on."

I put my fingers to my lips and pointed toward the stage. The thick green velvet curtains were being drawn back to expose the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen, New York, where girls dressed as boys clicked and hissed and spat at one another, marking out the infamous territories between the Jets and the Sharks.

Then the aggression left the stage and there was our eldest daughter. She peered out at us through an invisible mirror, examining her reflection as intensely as everyone else was now examining her. Was it my imagination or did a collective gasp ripple through the audience? She looked phenomenally beautiful. Older and more self-possessed than her fourteen years—how was it possible that we had a fourteen-year-old child? I stared at Amber, moving around the stage as easily as liquid, my brain leaping ahead to her next line before she'd finished delivering the one she was on. I was impressed, mesmerized, and terrified in equal measures. As for Amber, I could tell by the hem of her dress that she was as steady as a rock.

She looked beautiful. Did I say that already? Her dark red hair was pulled off her face with a white ribbon, her long, slender body still startling inside the neat, sensible dress of a good Catholic. She had skin the color of milk, but when she opened her mouth to sing, the London girls' school faded away and we fell into the world of a Puerto Rican on the eve of her first dance.

Jimmy reached over our nine-year-old and gazed into my eyes. He squeezed my hand hard, but then our middle daughter took ownership of her father and placed his hand firmly in her lap. I looked down at mine and watched as the warmth slowly left my skin and my fingers returned to their perpetual cold.

At the interval, Jimmy and I were thickly showered with compliments by our parental alumni—some genuine, some tinged with green, and some downright barbed. Why is it that I always remember the barbed ones?

"You must be so proud. When Talullah won her scholarship I made sure she stayed grounded by insisting she make her bed every day. It worked a treat, you should do it with Amber so it doesn't all go to her head."

"She already makes her bed," I replied, confused.

"Oh," said the woman, equally confused.

We stood awkwardly until another "compliment" cut through the air like a missile.

"Wonderful, isn't she? You'll have a job on your hands keeping Amber's feet on the ground now," said a starched woman, whom I had tried hard to avoid. "It was quite a big decision to pick a girl from year nine. She's quite brilliant, absolutely the right choice, but I think there were some rather put-out mothers in the year above."

I opened my mouth to respond, but Jimmy got there first. "Thanks for the tips, ladies. We'll watch our backs." They tittered. Jimmy grabbed my elbow. "Let's go to the bar," he said.

"You'd better check for poison."

"Why me?" he asked.

"Do you want to sew on the name tags?"

"Can't you get iron-on ones, these days?"

"Yes. But answer me one question. What is an iron?"

The lines on Jimmy's face deepened in mock concentration. "You win. I drink first."

There were more "helpful" comments as we pushed our way through the crowd, but fortunately, since I have amassed a staggering eighteen daughter-years at this school, I know who and where my friends are. Manning the bar. Womanning the bar, I should say, because women dominate my life.

I left Jimmy happily surrounded by some, walked to the sheeted trestle table, and picked up a handful of crisps. "Hey, Carmen," I said to one of my favorite fellow maternal inmates.


Excerpted from The Stepmother by Carrie Adams Copyright © 2009 by Carrie Adams. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Kate Jacobs
“A refreshingly honest, realistic, and clever look at family, love, and the tangling up of several lives. You will laugh and nod your head in recognition, all while racing through the pages to see how it comes together. I absolutely adored this book!”

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