Set in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite's restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin.
Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus--the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home.
Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera's curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan's warmth and passion, Vera can't suppress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too--and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile.
When the dangerous mysteries of Emil's past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice--whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we've always led is not the life we want to have.
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***This galley is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2016 Amber Brock
VASSAR COLLEGE, AUGUST 1913
If she had to guess, Vera Longacre would say that most of the girls at Vassar College knew her name and could pick her out of a crowd, even if she could not do the same for them. Her peculiar brand of celebrity came without any effort on her part, much like the money, the houses, and appearances on the society page. Very few of her fellow students could claim to know her personally, and a still smaller group would be able to identify her favorite foods or pastimes or which room in the dormitory was hers. But almost everyone knew Vera’s face well enough to whisper and nod discreetly in her direction as she glided past them on the quad. She sometimes felt like a walking magazine cover, with her name above her head in place of a title.
Not that she didn’t have a social group. In her first two years, she had selected a couple of girls of adequate means and manners, with whom she ate dinner and studied from time to time. The classroom, however, was a sacred space for her. When the instructor lectured, she preferred to be out of danger of distraction. She found the third row of the classroom the perfect compromise. Freshman year she had made the mistake of choosing a seat too close to the professor’s podium, and sophomore year had taught her the back of the room made it difficult to hear over the whispers of less inspired classmates. Now, as a senior, she had found the perfect balance. Close enough to hear well, not so close that the professor would expect her to answer every question.
Vera liked to arrive a few minutes early. On that morning, she walked into the classroom in the Main Building to find only three other girls giggling in the back row. The auditorium-style seating sloped down to a lectern and desk at the front of the room, and three large windows at the back provided far more light than the new electric bulbs overhead. Once she had chosen her third-row seat, she opened her textbook to the assigned reading. She skimmed back over the paragraphs, then found her attention drifting to the plates, which showed richly colored prints of a set of neoclassical paintings. Who could read endless pages of dry description when the paintings were right there to be devoured?
A satchel thunked down beside Vera, but she did not bother to look up. Her two closest friends did not share any of her classes, and she didn’t care for small talk. She flipped the page to a new painting as the girl in the neighboring seat let out a huff.
“If you ask me, the problem with the neoclassicists is all the lounging,” the girl said.
Vera looked up to find a pretty girl with hair as black as her own, though her eyes were blue instead of Vera’s brown. A playful smile lit up the girl’s round face.
“I mean, look,” the girl continued, gesturing at the plate on the page. “Every single figure here is draped against a marble wall or slumped against a column. Surely one of those painters must have known the ancient Romans or Greeks could stand and sit like normal people, don’t you think? Just look at how this woman is flopping around.”
“I . . . suppose.” Vera could not think of a better answer to such an absurd observation. “It is part of the style, though.”
The girl tapped the paper. “Oh, it’s always part of the style. Any- time they’re doing something silly-looking it’s part of the style.”
“How would you have done it, then?”
The girl pulled the book from Vera’s desk and inspected it. She waved her hand again, dismissing the painting in front of her. “I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be much nicer if it looked like real life? If it had real detail?”
“Like a photograph?”
A grin spread on the girl’s pink-cheeked face. “Exactly. See? You understand. With their eyes all rolled to the gods like that, it looks like they’re having fits. The worst thing is how lazy it is on the artist’s part. Making a person look real is far more of a challenge.”
Vera stared at the girl. At least she wasn’t talking about the weather. “I’m sorry, have we met before?”
“I don’t think so, why?”
Before she could prepare a more polite answer, Vera said, “Because most people introduce themselves before barging up to complain about women in neoclassical paintings having fits.”
The girl’s eyes widened. Vera thought for a moment she would get up and leave, but instead she laughed. “Then I’d better introduce my- self. I’m Bea Stillman. Please, never, ever call me Beatrice.”
Vera’s brows shot up. “Stillman? I’m surprised we haven’t met before now. I didn’t know there were any Stillmans here.”
Bea shook her head. “Not those Stillmans. Related, though. He’s my father’s cousin. We left for Georgia before he left Texas.” She sat up straighter. “We’re the Atlanta Stillmans.”
The mention of Georgia explained Bea’s breathy cadence and drawn-out vowels. “I must say I’m surprised,” Vera said. “Why come so far north?”
The girl toyed with her bracelet. “I was at Agnes Scott, in Decatur, but my parents decided the New York set would be a good influence for me. Fewer pearls, more diamonds. Though I don’t know how good your manners are after all.” At Vera’s frown, Bea leaned forward. “You haven’t introduced yourself yet.”
“Oh.” Her stern look relaxed. “Right. I’m Vera Longacre.”
“Of course I knew there was a Longacre among us,” Bea said with a wry tone.
Vera turned to fuss in her bag. “Yes, that’s me.”
Bea paused at Vera’s tightened expression. “Oh, now, don’t be that way. That’s not the first time you’ve gotten that reaction, is it, Rock- efeller?” Her softened pronunciation of the final rmade it sound closer to “fella.”
Vera’s features loosened into a smile. She adopted the tone her mother and her friends used to speak to the wait staff at the club. “We are not the Rockefellers, goodness.”
Bea played along, lifting her nose into the air. “Don’t like the comparison?”
“Certainly not, darling.” Vera leaned in, lowering her voice to a hush. “New money.”
The girls laughed. The room had filled as they were talking, and now most of the rows were occupied. The instructor walked in, set her briefcase on the desk, and turned on the slide projector. The slight, gray-haired woman’s voice bounced around the oak-paneled room for about five minutes before Bea started scribbling on a scrap of paper. She passed the note to Vera.
Are you a senior?
Vera wrote yes and passed it back. After further scratching on Bea’s part, the scrap returned.
I’m a junior. I live in Josselyn. You?
Ignoring the note for a moment, Vera put on a firm listening-to- the-teacher face. When she felt her point was made, she wrote Strong Building.
Bea didn’t write back for a good while. At last, the paper returned to Vera, with a new line.
You ought to get moved to Josselyn. We have showers.
Vera wrote back, Josselyn wasn’t built when I started here. Bad luck. Do you have a beau?
This question took Vera by surprise, and she missed most of the discussion about the sculptor Canova as she chose an answer. Finally, she put yes on the paper and slid it back down the long desk.
Bea glanced at the paper and pursed her lips dramatically.
That took a while to write.
I didn’t want to miss any more of the lecture.
But you sure didn’t look like you were listening. Who is he? Is it for- bidden? I simply love forbidden romance.
It’s not forbidden.
You can tell me. I’m good at keeping secrets. Not now.
Vera thought for a moment after this and added: It’s not a secret.
When the professor dismissed the class, Bea stood and exhaled hard. “I must say, you have me in suspense, Vera Longacre. Why don’t you come with me and tell me all about your scandalous love affair?”
Vera laughed. “It’s not a scandal. It’s the exact opposite of a scandal, as a matter of fact.”
Bea scooped up her books, papers, and pen in one messy jumble with one hand and hooked her elbow through Vera’s. “Well, come with me and tell me your deadly dull story anyway.” She shot a look out of the corner of her eye. “I may as well say it. I wasn’t planning to like you.”
“That’s why I started talking to you.” Bea led Vera down the stairs to the exit.
“You started talking to me because you thought you wouldn’t like me?” Vera asked.
“That’s right. I like to pick a serious-looking girl and say a few shocking things, to see how fast she moves to another desk.”
Vera nudged Bea with her shoulder. “That’s horrible.”
“It is, but I’m starved for entertainment.” She rolled her eyes and drawled out the word starved. “Anyway, you didn’t move desks. You sat right there and said something clever.” Bea released Vera’s arm as they entered the hallway. “I’m afraid this means we have no choice. We simply must be friends.”
Vera studied the odd, lively girl beaming in front of her. Papers dripped from the clumsy stack in her arms. Bea’s careless stance sent a shot of affection through her. Perhaps it was that carelessness that drew her to Bea. There was none of the social posturing Vera was so accustomed to. The girls she typically socialized with were so afraid of saying the wrong thing, they hardly spoke at all. Bea wasn’t a breath of fresh air, she was a balmy gust.
“If we must be friends, then I guess we ought to go to lunch together,” Vera said. “Would you like to?”
Bea nodded, and the two headed off, trailing paper all the way.
NEW YORK CITY, JUNE 1923
The two-and-a-half-minute elevator ride from the penthouse to the lobby of the Angelus building was more than enough time for Vera Bellington to contemplate ways out of her weekly Wednesday lunch with her mother. What if she called to say she was ill? What if she got into the Packard waiting downstairs and directed the driver to a different restaurant? What if she got into the Packard, went to the usual restaurant, but sat at a different table and said nothing to her mother? She could pretend to be a stranger. Terribly sorry, you must have me confused with someone else.
Well, they would lock her up, no question about that. Her mother and Arthur would conclude Vera had lost her mind at last, and would spare no expense in finding her the best facility in which to go in- sane. Going to another restaurant was no solution, either. Her mother would simply come to the penthouse of the Angelus looking for Vera, and then there would be hell to pay. Feigning illness would also mean an unwelcome visit. Her fanciful options exhausted, Vera went out to the curb to meet the car. She did not have to say a word to the driver. He knew where to go for Wednesday lunch.
Her mother was already seated in the Tea Room at the Plaza when Vera arrived, at their usual table. Lorna Longacre was a slender woman with steel-gray hair coiled in a knot at the back of her head and remarkably smooth skin for her age. This was, in part, because she refused to frown, citing the wrinkles such a disagreeable expression would cause. Of course, she did not smile much either, which probably had the same helpful effect.
Vera slid into the floral cushion of the chair with a quiet greeting, but her mother kept her gaze trained on a group of girls passing by the window. Something between disgust and satisfaction pulled on her face, as if insects had invaded and she looked forward to the pleasure of stamping them out one by one.
“What are you looking at?” Vera asked, as the waiter spread a nap- kin onto her lap for her.
“The clothing some of these—well, you can hardly call them ladies, can you? The skirts on them. Can’t decently call them skirts, either. Up to their knees. More like bathing costumes.” Her mother sniffed and turned her attention to Vera. “If you had dressed with so little sense at that age, I’d have thrown you out.”
“Which is why I would never have done such a thing, Mother. Good gracious.” Vera peered at the menu, though she always ordered the crab cocktail with sliced tomatoes.
Her mother shot her a pointed look but did not comment. “And that short hair,” she continued. “Though it’s not just silly girls doing that now. Do you know, the ladies at the club have convinced them- selves it’s appropriate for women of their age? Petunia Etherington came in the other day with it chopped straight off at her chin.” Vera’s mother clicked her tongue. “Imagine.”
The two ladies ordered their meals, and Vera squeezed a lemon into her tea. They sat looking around the room for a moment in silence, before taking up the usual set of questions and answers that served as their script for these lunches.
“How is Daddy?” Vera asked.
Her mother picked an invisible thread from her jacket. “Forever with his horses. I’m always half surprised he doesn’t offer me a sugar cube and try to brush me when he comes in.” “When is the next race?”
“Not for ages. The next is Saratoga. I hope you’ll come with us. I’ll call your girl and have her put it on your calendar.”
Vera nodded. “Did you go to the opera this weekend?” “It was La Traviata.”
“Mmm. Daddy hates that one.”
“I went with the Stanfords.” Her mother took a sip of tea. “She tried to hide it, but Eleanor wept like a baby at the end. Honestly, in public.” “It is a lovely opera, though.” Vera inclined her head at the waiter as he set down their plates.
“Weeping in public is for infants and funerals, darling. And even then it should be done discreetly.” Her mother lifted her fork over her chicken salad. “How is Arthur?”
The question should have been a throwaway one, but Vera’s throat tightened at the mention of her husband. Thirty years of conversation with her mother had taught her better, but her response was out of her mouth before she could stop herself. “Mother, when Daddy was work- ing . . . away a lot . . . did you ever get lonely?”
Her mother set her fork down on her plate and glanced around. “I hope that’s a unique way of telling me you’re having a child.”
Vera looked at her hands in her lap, her face burning. She would have been better off confessing an urge to strip naked and dance around the restaurant than to admit something like loneliness to her mother. She struggled for the words to explain herself and settled on something close to the truth. “No, nothing like that. Nothing out of the ordinary. But Arthur has so many late nights, more trips away. It’s been a bit difficult.”
Her mother snapped her fork back into the air. “What did you think marriage would be like? Besides, lonely people are people with- out anything to do. Don’t you have your charities? Your friends? Good heavens, if we expected our husbands to provide us with our only company we’d all go mad.” She narrowed her eyes. “Have you been reading those romances again? Those silly things will rot your brain.” “I’m sorry, Mother. Forget I said it.”
“Yes, let’s.” Her mother took a sip of water. “Oh, I have something to occupy you. There’s a painting I’m thinking of buying, but I want you to take a look for me first. One of my friends from the club intro- duced me to a dealer, and he says he’s got a Dutch master. He’s selling at an amazing price. I’m afraid the price is a little too good.”
“Have you seen it yet?”
“I haven’t.” Her mother pursed her lips. “How much did your father and I pay for you to go to Vassar? We may as well get some use out of your studies, don’t you think?”
Vera knew not to take the bait on that line of inquiry. “When do you want me to go?”
“Are you free tomorrow? The dealer phoned this morning, I told him I didn’t think you had anything pressing.”
Vera stifled a groan. She did have a luncheon with the ladies in her building, but her mother did not make requests. She mandated. “Who is he?”
“Fleming somebody. He’s apparently a French dealer with an established gallery in Paris. He’s just opened an offshoot in the city to better cater to his American clientele. I’ll give you the address. He’s a few blocks from here.”
Vera tried frantically to think of some way she could redirect her mother’s interest. The idea of traipsing through the city for a Dutch master her mother would not even really appreciate was not Vera’s idea of an afternoon well spent. “Surely his Paris gallery would have a bet- ter selection if he’s just setting up here. Why not wait until you’re there next?”
Her mother shook her head. “No way of knowing when that will be. Your father won’t go with me, and I certainly won’t travel alone. Unless you’d like to go with me?”
An hour in a local gallery seemed a less daunting prospect than a month in Europe with her mother, and Vera agreed to go see the painting. After they finished their meal, her mother wrote the gallery’s address on a card. They walked out onto the sidewalk to wait for their drivers to bring their cars. Her mother’s arrived first, and she waved a few fingers at Vera from the backseat. A hint of worry still lingered in her eyes, indicating she had not forgotten Vera’s confession.
VASSAR COLLEGE, SEPTEMBER 1913
After their first lunch together on the day they met, Vera and Bea ate together nearly every afternoon. At first, Vera had alternated between her usual lunch crowd and Bea. Once, she invited Bea to eat with her group, but the blend had not been a harmonious one. All Ella Gregory and Lillie Huntsfield could do was stare, and Bea had pronounced them “dull as flour, but with less taste.” After that, Vera adjusted her schedule to come in late enough that she and Bea missed her other friends entirely. The dreariness of her more appropriate friends could not compete with her new, vibrant friend from the South. Unfortunately, her lively lunches made dinner with her old crowd seem even more tedious. No one in her right mind would choose polite small talk and inquiries about her academic progress over Bea’s naughty asides.
Dinner seating was naturally trickier to navigate, since the evening lacked the casual atmosphere of lunch, and class schedules could not be blamed for interrupting the standing social appointment of the regular table. One night, emboldened by imagining what her new friend would do in her situation, Vera strolled through the dining room right past Ella and Lillie, nodding a greeting but saying nothing. The girls gave her stony looks but would never have dreamed of challenging Vera’s choice. She wove her way around the square, white-clothed tables to take a seat beside Bea.
“Not sitting with the Opera Board tonight?” Bea asked, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.
Vera spread her napkin in her lap and scooted her wooden chair closer to the table. “They have each other. I thought you could use some company, too.”
“Maybe they do teach girls up here manners after all.” Bea leaned in and spoke under her breath. “You couldn’t take it anymore?”
“Not for another minute.” Vera laughed. “Your parents may have sent you up here for the good influences of the North, but you’ve been a bad influence on me, Bea Stillman.”
“Impossible. Girls like you are incorruptible.” Bea poked at the sliver of roast beef on her plate.
“I don’t know about that.”
“You’d rather be corruptible? I knew there was a sinner lurking inside you. Maybe now you’ll tell me more about your summer romance.” A familiar gleam brightened Bea’s eyes.
Vera wanted to reply that Arthur’s pursuit was hardly a romance, but she stopped. Of course, technically, it was a romance. He wouldn’t have visited her so often last summer if he hadn’t had marriage on his mind in some way. So why did Bea’s description seem so ill fit- ting? “Maybe I will,” Vera said at last. She had held off this discussion through weeks of lunches; it was probably time she gave her friend more than just a passing detail.
Bea turned, eyes shining. “Finally. What does Arthur look like? He must be handsome. Is he rich?”
“He is terribly handsome,” Vera admitted. She ignored Bea’s last question, leaving a discussion of Arthur’s financial situation for a more private conversation. A maid appeared at her elbow, and Vera nodded. As the maid spooned green beans onto their plates, Vera tried to keep her voice low until the woman stepped away. “Tall, with dark hair. Not too slender. He’s about ten years older, and very sophisticated.”
Bea wrinkled her nose. “You sound like you’re describing a building. What are his eyes like? His lips?” She drew out the last word with relish, and Vera’s cheeks warmed.
“Goodness, does everyone in Atlanta talk like that in public?”
“Just me, as far as I know. Aren’t you lucky I came your way?” Bea chewed thoughtfully on a green bean. “So, dark hair. Tall. Promising start.”
Vera fixed a hard gaze on her food. “His eyes are lovely. They’re pale blue, like crystal.”
“More silvery than that. I’ve never seen eyes like his.”
“Now, that sounds like something a lover might say. Much better.” Bea offered a quiet clap.
Vera glanced at the neighboring tables. “Do you have a beau?” she asked quickly.
Bea laughed. “You’ve seen the reaction I get from girls. Can you imagine what men think of me?”
“You’re pretty, outgoing, smart . . . I’d think your beaus would be tripping over each other.”
“If I meet a man I like, I’ll have you write me a letter of reference. My own mother wouldn’t be so complimentary.”
“I don’t know. It sounds like you get along well with her,” Vera said. Bea had described a soft-spoken, sweet woman with a wicked sense of humor that belied her poise.
“I do. Most of the time.” Bea shrugged. “But never mind her. What do you and Arthur do together? Hopefully more than sit in the parlor.” “He took me to the soda fountain,” Vera said, with a hopeful lift in her voice.
Bea sighed. “I was hoping for something more interesting than the soda fountain.”
“Well . . . once we took a walk on the beach. He even took his shoes off.” Vera laughed at the memory, but the look on Bea’s face suggested the thought of a barefoot Arthur was not as funny to someone who didn’t know him personally. Her laugh died away.
Bea placed a hand on Vera’s arm. “As long as you like him, that’s the important thing. He sounds . . . he sounds very nice.”
“I do like him,” Vera said. She really did. There was something so solid about Arthur, like an anchor in rough waters. What better man to marry than one she could depend on? He might not be exciting, but Vera reassured herself there were qualities in a husband more important than being exciting. Anyway, as long as Vera stayed friends with Bea, she doubted she’d have to worry about a lack of excitement in her life.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fun summer read
I enjoyed this book, but it doesn't compare to the others I read lately. The more I read the more I liked it, but it isn't the most gripping story. It lags in some areas & has a seemingly quick ending. While I do like the resolution, it doesn't feel totally earned. But I will say that the cover is absolutely stunning. Vera's story is told in alternating chapters- her college life & her married life. Set in the early 1900s, her life as a wife/student is set for her by her wealthy familiy- her degree, her marriage, etc. While she starts to feel the burden of her married life, an artist comes to paint a mural in the apartment building. There is a spark between the two. And people notice.
This book had me riveted from the first chapter. Each page, sentence and chapter was filled with rich language that allowed you tor really see what was being said; a movie that played in your mind. There were hints of Fitzgerald which I loved; the bourgeois, high class society, New York, dining, gowns and jewels... It was a fast read but very potent. I love this book and has remained memorable in my mind. Art, the ups and downs of life, marriage reality, love, betrayal, family life, hope and dreams of a young woman, passion... all intertwined beautifully in this book. A must read!
A Fine Imitation" is many things - a romance, a study of loneliness, an examination of social expectations and much more. Set in the 1920's in New York, we are introduced to a socialite whose husband is so busy she feels abandoned, bored, lonely. The story unfolds with a narrative that switches between current time and the protagonists earlier life as a college student. There are some fascinating characters too - a dull husband obsessed with his work, a strict overbearing mother, and a mysteriously handsome but eccentric artist. Most of all, there is a hidden theme that all that glitters is not gold and that often we find ourselves leading lives according to others and not of our own devise. A great, thought-provoking novel that gathers momentum as the story moves along. An excellent recommendation for women's book clubs. Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.
What Really Matters in Life! Vera Bellington is a wealthy young woman who is unhappily married in New York City during The Gilded Age. Her husband pays very little attention to her and is usually at the office. She has recently seen her college roommate Bea Stillman but now, they no longer speak to each other. The story vacillates back and forth between their days at Vassar, ten years earlier, to Vera’s present day life as a privileged woman of high society. And then, a mysterious, yet handsome artist is hired to paint a mural around their building pool. Everyone wants to know more about him and he remains mum about his background. He continually pays special attention to Vera who was an Art major that can detect authentic work. It is a recipe for vows to be broken or challenged. This book will keep the fingers turning to the next page to see what will happen next. Why don’t Bea and Vera speak to each other? Where does her husband really spend his time? Will Vera fall for the artist? What is he hiding about his past? Questions can be answered by simply reading A Fine Imitation- a new, hot off- the-press book by Amber Brock. A fine read!
I LOVED this book! I can't say a lot about it specifically because everything I would mention would be a spoiler. However, I can say that I could not believe her mother and what she did. There is a lot of fun, then a lot of sadness, then joy in this book and I was not ready for it to end. That, for me, is definitely the sign of a good book. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about the society pages, even better if you don't agree with their staunchness. I already miss this book and want to be reading it again! Huge thanks to Crown Publishing for approving me and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
4.7 stars Vera Bellington comes from a wealthy family. She lives the life of high society in Manahattan, attending an endless stream of dinners and cocktail parties. Her days are spent at luncheons with other ladies of society, while her nights are spent alone, waiting for a husband who seldom comes home. When artist Emil Hallan is hired to paint a mural in the pool room of her lavish apartment building, Vera finds herself drawn to him. She soon can’t ignore the feelings she develops for this man who won’t talk about his past or his family. But Vera has her own secrets from her college days. Few know what she did to secure her future in society when a friendship with Bea Stillman threatened to ruin it all. When the truth about Emil comes to light, Vera must make a choice: stay where her future is secure, or follow her heart and go with the man who could possibly break it. A Fine Imitation is Amber Brock’s debut novel, and it will not disappoint. It’s a look at life when outside expectations overtake a person’s happiness. While the story being told here is one that’s been told before, Brock’s tale is engaging and entertaining. Vera is a character that you will connect with as she unfolds before you. Add to that the backdrop of the Prohibition, and you have the makings of a great story. As far as content warnings, there is one brief sex scene, though not vulgar or explicit. I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this overall, and I feel it was an excellent first effort for an author. I liked the switches in time from Vera at college to her 10 years later. I liked most of the characters, the way they were written, but at times I did feel Vera was a bit shallow and I did want to smack some sense into her. I thought Hallan's secret was rather obvious and I agree with other reviewers that that portion of the storyline seemed to weave through the novel and then come to a rather abrupt end...but at the same time, the author has a world they are allowed to create, and this worked for the author. At times, I found the pacing to be a bit off, especially at the end, and that the writing was a bit choppy. But at other times, it flowed nicely and the story moved along well. I am looking forward to the author's next release. 3.5 Stars ***ARC Provided by the publisher and NetGalley***
What little I read makes me want to buy it.