Covet: A Novel

Covet: A Novel

by Tracey Garvis Graves


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Covet: A Novel by Tracey Garvis Graves

Tracey Garvis Graves, the New York Times bestselling author of On the Island, returns.

What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton's marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he's offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire's concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can't weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they're spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire's marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn't take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she'll never cross.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142181126
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/29/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tracey Garvis Graves is the author of the New York Times bestseller On the Island. She lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, with her family. She loves hearing from her fans and can be found on Twitter @tgarvisgraves and at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


I’m on my way home from dropping off the kids at school when he pulls me over. I see the lights in my rearview mirror seconds before he hits the siren, giving it two short bursts. I’m not speeding, or in violation of any traffic laws that I know of, but I pull to the shoulder and the police car slows to a stop behind my bumper. When the officer walks up to the driver’s-side window, I hit the button to lower it.

“Did you know you have a taillight out, ma’am?” he asks.

“Really?” I crane my neck to look behind me—as if I could possibly see it from inside the car— and immediately feel foolish.

“Yes,” he says. “Passenger side. Can I see your license and registration and proof of insurance?”

I nod. “Sure.”

He doesn’t look like any cop I’ve ever seen. He looks like a model pretending to be a police officer for a photo shoot. Or maybe one of those cops who shows up at a bachelorette party and then strips down to his underwear.

Suddenly, I can’t remember where anything is.

He waits patiently while I locate the necessary documents in the console and pry my license out of my wallet. I hand everything to him and he takes it to his car, and when he returns he leans down by my window and hands it all back.

Up close, I notice that his eyes are green, the exact shade of a piece of sea glass I found on the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico two years ago when Chris and I took the kids to South Padre Island. He must be six two or three, and he’s lean but broad shouldered. He doesn’t look older than mid to late thirties, but there are a few flecks of gray in his dark hair, which only enhance his good looks. So unfair. He rips a piece of paper off the pad he’s holding, glances down at the name he’s written on it, and looks back up. “Claire?”


He hands me the ticket. “It’s just a warning,” he says, reading my expression and smiling to dispel my worry that I’m about to get slapped with a fine. His teeth are white and perfectly straight. “Have it taken care of as soon as possible, okay? It isn’t safe.”

“I will,” I say, looking down at the ticket. It’s been signed by Officer Daniel Rush. “Thank you.”

He nods. “Have a nice day.”

When I return home, my husband, Chris, is standing in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in his hand. He’s wearing jeans and a polo shirt in accordance with casual Friday, and he smells like the cologne I gave him for his birthday.

“Have you seen my watch?” he asks, in lieu of a proper greeting. I unearth it under a stack of mail on the counter, and he straps it on. “Did you drive the kids to school?”

“Yes,” I say, setting down my purse on the island. “Last day,” I add, because even though I mentioned it, there’s a fairly good chance Chris forgot; he’s got other things, important things, to focus on right now. “I wanted to hand deliver the gifts for their teachers. I wasn’t sure they’d arrive in one piece if they took them on the bus.”

The kids are a safe topic, and politely exchanging information regarding their whereabouts and well-being has become our fallback method of communication. Neither of us raises our voice. I once read an article in a women’s magazine that said it’s a really bad sign when you and your spouse stop arguing. It means that you’ve given up and no longer care about saving your marriage. I hope that’s not true, but I worry that it probably is. I walk to the dishwasher and start unloading it, not bothering to tell Chris about the taillight; I’ll take care of it myself.

He opens the cupboard, grabs the pill bottle, and shakes a capsule into his hand, swallowing it with water. He’s probably wondering if I’ll say something about the pills, but I won’t. I never do. He’s whistling and seems eager to head out the door this morning; I should just be grateful he has a job to go to, because the twelve months we spent at home together when he was out of work were almost our undoing. Still might be. He grabs his laptop and car keys, says good-bye, and walks out the door without kissing me.

I finish unloading the dishwasher. Tucker scratches and whines at the sliding glass door, and I open it. “Go, Tuck,” I say, watching as he takes off in hot pursuit of a squirrel. He never catches them because the squirrel will scamper to safety on top of our fence long before he reaches it, but that seldom stops him from trying.

It’s quiet now. I pour a cup of coffee and gaze out the window as summer beckons.

I open the door to seven-year-old Jordan’s room, my arms full of clean laundry. She’s made her bed without being asked, and her stuffed animals are lined up neatly on her pillow. There’s nothing on the floor, not a stray sock, not her pajamas, not one of the hundreds of crayons and markers she’s always drawing with. Nothing. It used to bother me until my mom pointed out that I did the same thing when I was her age. “Don’t go looking for trouble where there is none, Claire. She relishes order the same way you do.” I never did grow out of it either, this need to have everything organized, my life segmented neatly into tidy little boxes. How karma must have had a field day with me last year.

I open nine-year-old Josh’s door next and immediately trip over a pile of Matchbox cars; it appears there’s been a pileup. Josh likes to crash things. He does not, however, share his sister’s fondness for neatness and order. I step around the cars and navigate my way across the room, dodging piles of clothes, sports equipment, shoes, and his guitar. His navy blue comforter hangs halfway off the bed, but the sheets are pulled up and both pillows are in the right spot. I’ll give him an A for effort. After I put away the clean clothes I pick up the dirty ones and reverse my steps.

In our bedroom only one side of the bed has been slept in. When he’s home, which from now on will be rare, Chris often sleeps on the couch in the family room, a habit he started when his insomnia was at its worst and he didn’t want to disturb me with his tossing and turning. In hindsight, I should have insisted that he stay because now I doubt he’ll ever return.

I scoop up his boxer shorts and damp towel from the bathroom floor and add them to the pile in my arms, wondering if there will ever be more to life than laundry and sleeping alone in a king-size bed.

My neighbor Elisa walks into my kitchen later that morning, her yoga mat in one hand and a giant bottle of water in the other. Her light brown hair is in a perfect ballerina bun, not a messy one like mine, and her gray yoga pants coordinate nicely with her pink tank top. “I almost got run over crossing the street,” she says. “What the hell is wrong with people? Do they not realize how many kids are in this neighborhood?” Elisa is a born and bred Texas girl whose husband, Skip, brought her back to his home state of Kansas after college, and when she’s riled up you can really hear the twang in her speech.

Elisa and I live in Rockland Hills, an exclusive neighborhood in a suburb of Kansas City. We’re on the Kansas side, and the single-family homes are large and stately, with a median price of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The architecture is a mix of styles, designed to lend a unique feel and keep the houses from looking too similar. Chris and I purchased our Tuscany-inspired four-bedroom home five years ago after we fell in love with the warm, earthy hues, expansive terra-cotta tile floors, and wrought-iron sconces. Our furniture is soft and oversize, chosen solely for comfort. We’ve been happy with this neighborhood except for the fact that the winding, tree-lined streets aren’t heavily patrolled and not everyone watches their speed the way they should; the most frequent offenders are the newly licensed offspring of the affluent residents.

I grab my own bottle of water from the fridge. “Maybe we can check into getting one of those speed limit signs. You know, the ones that blink?” I ask.

“We need something. I can’t believe how fast that car was going.”

I drive us to yoga. When we walk in the front door I feel instantly calmer, the way I always do when I hear the New Age music and smell the lingering scent of incense. A potted aloe vera plant sits on a low table and paintings from local artists adorn the sage-green walls. It’s all very soothing.

After we stow our gear in the locker room we stake out a spot in the back row of the studio, sitting cross-legged on our mats while we wait for the class to start. “I’ve got a taillight out. Can you pick me up after I drop off my car?” I ask.

“Sure,” she says, stretching her arms over her head. “When?”

I take a sip from my water bottle. “I don’t know. I’ll call and make an appointment when I get home. I need to take care of it as soon as possible.”

“Did you get pulled over?” she asks.

“Yes, this morning. By the most ridiculously good-looking cop I’ve ever seen.”

She raises an eyebrow and grins. “Do tell.”

“There’s not much to it,” I say, chuckling. “I was so flustered I couldn’t remember where I kept my registration. It was like my brain left the building. He was nice, though.” I don’t tell Elisa that my mind keeps flashing back to this morning. I don’t tell her that I keep thinking about the officer’s smile. Maybe it’s some kind of latent cop fantasy I didn’t know I had. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since my husband paid any attention to me at all. Maybe it’s because I’m so damn lonely. It’s not like it matters, anyway. There are approximately twenty-two thousand residents in this town, and the odds of running into him again are not that great.

They’re not horrible, though.

I realize that these are not the thoughts of a happily married woman, but at the moment I am not very happily married.

After we return from yoga I take a shower and work on my laptop for a few hours, then cross the street to take a plate of cookies and a bowl of fruit salad over to Elisa’s. Her and Skip’s contemporary two-story is the polar opposite of mine: It boasts sleek, modern furniture and clean lines, and the color palette features icy blues and soft grays.

Elisa’s the consummate entertainer, and her end-of-the-school-year party has become a tradition on our street with the adults looking forward to it almost as much as the kids do. I help her set up a long table on her covered patio, and we stack paper plates and sort plastic utensils. Elisa fans out a pile of brightly colored napkins.

It’s barely June, but a fluke heat wave has stalled over the Midwest, and the record-breaking temperature hovers near eighty-seven. The heat and humidity make it feel as if my neighborhood has been relocated to a tropical island.

“What time are you coming over?” Elisa asks.

“Five thirty. Chris said he’d be home on time.”

My guess is that Chris will still be the last one to leave the office today. If past behavior is any indication, it won’t take long for Chris’s workaholic tendencies to kick in, weekends and holidays be damned.

We stand back and survey our work. “I think I’m all set,” Elisa says. “Thanks for helping.

“Sure. See you in a little while.”

She waves. “Bye, Claire.”

I’m waiting on the sidewalk an hour later when the school bus pulls up. Jordan is the first child off, and she flies down the steps and into my arms, her backpack bulging with all the treasures that used to live in her desk. She cradles a figurine in her hands; it looks like a turtle. Or maybe it’s a swan. I don’t dare ask. “I made you a peacock, Mommy,” she says, proudly handing it over. Her expression turns somber. “Please don’t break this one.”

I examine the peacock and kiss her on the forehead. “It’s beautiful, honey. I’ll be more careful. I promise.”

Jordan looks like me, except her hair is a mass of short, sunshiny-blonde ringlets. My hair is longer, the curls stretching into waves that reach my shoulder blades, and at thirty-four I need a boost from

quarterly highlights to help brighten the shade. My daughter and I share the same small nose and full lips, but she has dimples and a smattering of freckles across her cheeks. She takes my breath away.

Josh, who follows sedately behind his sister, takes after Chris. He has the same golden-boy good looks that attracted me to his father twelve years ago when we were twenty-two and fresh out of college, the ink barely dry on our degrees, Chris’s in business and marketing and mine in graphic design. They’re the kind of features—distinct, symmetrical, strong—that make people listen to what you have to say, buy what you’re selling. When Mindy, my best friend from college, received our Christmas card and family photo a few years ago, she jokingly asked, “Has anyone ever mentioned you all look a little Stepfordish?”

I suppose we do. I’m the anomaly, though. We all have blond hair, but only Chris and the kids have blue eyes. Mine are brown.

“How was the last day of school?” I ask, taking Jordan’s hand and reaching over to ruffle Josh’s hair.

“Awesome!” they answer in unison. We sing a few lines of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” at the top of our lungs and walk into the house. “Who wants a snack?” I ask.

While they’re eating peanut butter crackers and sipping juice I go through their backpacks, sorting the contents into piles. “Find a place in your rooms for everything you want to keep, okay?” I put Jordan’s peacock on the counter.

Chris walks in the door at 5:29 and sets down his laptop and cell phone. “Daddy!” The kids barrel toward him, and he gathers them in his arms. “Do I have time to change?” he asks.

“Sure,” I say. “We can wait.”

He runs upstairs and returns two minutes later wearing a faded T-shirt and cargo shorts. “All right,” he says, scooping up Jordan and placing her on his shoulders. She beams, liking this happy Daddy. “Let’s go.”

We cross the street and walk around to the back of the house. “Greetings, Canton family,” Skip says as we enter his yard and approach the patio. He scoops me up in a bear hug and kisses me on the cheek. Josh and Jordan scatter, off to join the kids jumping on the trampoline.

Elisa’s husband is one of my favorite people. He played football at Baylor, and he’s a big strapping guy with broad shoulders and a belly that’s just beginning to show the effects of too much beer and barbecue, but he’s a teddy bear. I once watched him dodge traffic to rescue a turtle so it wouldn’t get run over, and I saw him wipe away tears when ten-year-old Travis—his and Elisa’s only child—accepted an award for collecting donations for a family who lost all their possessions in a house fire. And boy does he love his wife.

Skip sets me down and then shakes Chris’s hand, clapping him on the back. “How’s the job going, man?”

I tense up, forgetting for a moment that this question is preferable to “Have you found a job yet?” which is what everyone wanted to know for the twelve months Chris didn’t have one. Chris answers that it’s only been a month but so far things are going well, then ambles off in search of a beer, oblivious to the blip on my emotional radar. Oblivious of me entirely.

I survey the group on the patio. Julia and Justin, who live behind me and Chris, are sitting next to each other holding drinks. Justin has a beer while Julia clenches her customary glass of chardonnay; I won’t know until I talk to her how many she’s already had at home. Bridget and Sam and their brood, who live next door to us, our houses so close I can sometimes smell what Bridget’s cooking for dinner if the windows are open, have yet to arrive. They’re perpetually late; the wrangling of four boys, each born eighteen months after the last, is such a daunting task that they’ve mostly given up. “We’ll be there when we get there,” Bridget likes to say.

Justin has registered our arrival, and his eyes linger on me a bit too long. He rises from his chair and walks toward me, handing me the can of Diet 7Up he plucked from the cooler on the way. “Hey, Claire,” he says, kissing me on the cheek, eyes scanning leisurely from head to toe. “You look great.”

I doubt my shorts and tank top will win any fashion contests, but I smile and open the can of pop.

“Thanks.” This one-sided flirtation, which first developed at Elisa and Skip’s Christmas party when Justin complimented my dress and then, after having way too much to drink, gave me a kiss under the mistletoe that was definitely outside the parameters of acceptable neighbor behavior, has chugged along harmlessly since December. His confidence in his own appearance borders on arrogance, and I doubt he’s ever been turned down in his life. But there are many reasons I’d never open that can of worms, not the least of which is my friendship with Julia. It’s nice to be noticed, though.

Justin gives me a knowing grin and then drifts off to join the men clustered near the grill. Skip takes the platter Elisa hands him and begins slapping burgers and hot dogs down on the grate. The smell of charcoal and sizzling beef fills the air. The husbands stand around watching the meat cook, drinking their beer, while the wives congregate on the patio. Even after all this time, our teen years far behind us, the boys are still across the room from the girls.

I sit down next to Julia and do a quick scan of the yard. Josh and Jordan have moved on from the trampoline and are playing freeze tag with Travis while Julia’s daughters are sipping juice boxes and playing with their Polly Pockets. Elisa drops into a chair next to me and opens a beer. “Do you need help with anything?” I ask.

She tucks a tendril of hair behind her ear and exhales. “Nope. Skip’s handling the meat and everything else is ready. I just want to sit for a minute.”

Julia swivels toward us. “I have big news,” she says. Her eyes are glassy and her words are clipped, but she’s not slurring. Two glasses at home, I’d say. Generous pours. Julia weighs all of one hundred and five pounds and can’t hold her wine at all, though not for lack of trying. Her brown hair is cut in a sleek, chin-length bob that frames her pretty face, and her blue baby-doll dress brings out the color of her eyes. But her skin is starting to show the effects of daily alcohol consumption, flushed or sallow depending on whether she’s drunk or hungover, and she always looks tired.

Julia pauses for dramatic effect and then says, “Justin and I are putting in a pool. It’s a bit late in the season—we really should have gotten the ball rolling in the spring—but Justin’s big commission finally came through, so we decided to go for it.” Justin is some kind of commercial real estate whiz, and I can’t help but be impressed that he’s still able to do so well in this economy. We listen as Julia shares the pool’s dimensions and the fact that there will be not one, but two waterfalls. Construction will begin immediately, and if everything goes according to schedule, they’ll be jumping off the diving board by the end of July.

Elisa, the eternal hostess, asks all the right follow-up questions and Julia prattles on, enjoying the spotlight, but then she stops suddenly and pulls a bottle—no, actually it’s a jug—of cheap chardonnay out of the cooler and tops off her glass, concentrating on not spilling a drop. The fact that her next drink has so quickly replaced her enthusiasm about the pool worries me more than a little.

Bridget, looking harried, finally arrives with her four boys, but Sam does not accompany them and I wonder if we’ll be graced with his presence at all; I can’t remember the last time I saw him.

Skip calls out that the meat is done and everyone lines up. I make sure Josh and Jordan eat something other than potato chips and add some fruit and baby carrots to their plates. Justin brings me another Diet 7Up, smiling and popping the top before handing it to me.

After dinner I coat my children in a heavy cloud of bug spray, which they protest against. Loudly. “You’ll thank me tomorrow when you’re not covered in mosquito bites,” I tell them. “We’ll make s’mores and light sparklers in a little while, okay?” I send them off to play with the rest of the kids.

Fourteen-year-old Sebastian, Bridget’s oldest, has become our de facto DJ, and the iPod blasts a variety of tunes, everything from Skip’s classic country to Elisa’s adult contemporary and Travis’s hip-hop.

Chris stands in the yard next to Skip and Justin. The smell of cigar smoke permeates the air, and their laughter mingles with the music. It’s nice to see Chris with a smile on his face, even if it isn’t for me. He’s gained back a little of the weight he lost and his shorts don’t look so baggy anymore. His body language—shoulders back, head held a bit higher than before—tells me he’s feeling a little better about himself. Watching Chris interact with the other men is bittersweet. Six months ago he might have stayed home, but now that he’s here I can’t help but wonder how he can effortlessly return to the way things were with his friends yet find it so difficult to get into some kind of groove with me.

The sun sets, and Justin finds me on the patio. He sits down in the chair Julia vacated when she went in to use the restroom. He says something, but I can’t hear him over the music. Leaning over, he brushes my hair out of the way and says, “Julia won’t mind if I take her chair.” His lips graze my ear, and his fingers trail down my neck, unnoticed in the darkness.

I’ve known Justin for two years, ever since he and Julia moved into the neighborhood, and he’s never paid this much attention to me before. Can men sense when a woman is sexually frustrated? Maybe it’s like those high-pitched whistles only dogs can hear.

Justin looks up when Julia comes back outside, but he doesn’t move away. I fidget and check to make sure my body language isn’t giving either of them the wrong idea; I don’t want Julia to think I’m remotely interested in her husband. Then again, she doesn’t appear to be all that observant right now. She trips and I’m embarrassed for her, so I don’t say anything. She sits down next to me. “What’s going on?” She’s slurring a bit and has the hiccups. I don’t say anything about that, either. Justin pretends not to notice any of this, though how he can ignore it I’m not sure. “Do you want some water?” I ask, as the hiccupping sends her into a fit of giggles.

“Nope,” she says, with the cheerful disposition of someone who has bypassed buzzed and is heading full speed toward blissfully wasted.

Julia never used to act this way, but in the last year her drinking has increased dramatically. I’m certain there’s a reason, something it can be attributed to. None of us are doing her any favors by pretending not to notice, and someone really needs to say something. I vote for Justin. Maybe he’s already tried.

Elisa brings out marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers, and Skip threads the marshmallows onto skewers and toasts them over the grill. The music is way too loud, and Bridget tells Sebastian to turn it down, threatening him with his life if he so much as glances at the volume dial on the iPod. “Where did you say Sam is?” Elisa asks when Bridget plunks herself down in the nearest chair.

“At the track.” She shrugs. “Or the casino. I don’t know. Does it matter?” Bridget glances over to where Chris is helping the kids with their sparklers, making sure they put the burned out ones in a metal bucket so no one will step on them. She watches as Skip hands Chris a skewer and he slides off the toasted marshmallow and sandwiches it between a chocolate bar and a graham cracker, handing it to whoever is next in line.

“I wish Sam was more like Chris,” she says.

No, you don’t.

But Bridget can’t see the forest for the trees and doesn’t realize there’s a big difference between a good father and a good husband, and she probably doesn’t care. Greener grass and all that. She doesn’t know the mess Chris and I have made of our marriage. Neither does Julia. Elisa is the only one I share my secrets with. I’ve worked hard to keep the facade of this marriage, this life, intact, but only to avoid becoming fodder for the neighborhood gossip mill.

Frankly, I’m exhausted.

It’s late. We gather up our children, who are tired and sticky with marshmallows and chocolate, and say our good-byes.

We’re the Cantons. Sun-kissed, all-American, picture-perfect. By all appearances, we’re the ideal suburban family.

As long as you don’t look too closely. 

Reading Group Guide

What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton's marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he's offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire's concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can't weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they're spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire's marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn't take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she'll never cross.
Tracey Garvis Graves is the author of the New York Times bestseller On the Island. She lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, with her family. She loves hearing from her fans and can be found on Twitter @tgarvisgraves and at

1. Covet takes the perspective of three different characters. Why did you choose to use alternating perspectives? Which character was most difficult to write?

Covet is ultimately Claire’s story, but I felt it would be more relatable if I could show the reader why all three characters made the choices they did. I wanted to share their thoughts, motivations, and reactions. I thought it was the best way to highlight that there was no true villain in Covet, just three people who were trying to deal with their own issues. Chris was by far the most difficult character to write. I wanted the reader to sympathize with his actions, to understand why he shut Claire out, but I didn’t want to give him a free pass on his behavior, either.

2. What compelled you to write a novel about a relationship on the rocks? What challenges were there in executing the intricacies of Claire and Chris’ relationship?

My inspiration came from a real-life event. In the fall of 2008 my husband was in danger of being laid off. He was a valued employee and had been with his company for over fifteen years, but the recession was in full-swing and none of that mattered. I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time so the threat of losing our only source of income weighed heavily on my husband and me. Fortunately, he did not lose his job, but we knew many couples who weren’t so lucky. Most of my books start out as a question, and Covet was no different. I wondered, “What if my husband had lost his job? What if he wasn’t able to find another one? What effect would that have had on an otherwise strong marriage? The answers to those questions became the basis for Covet’s storyline. I just had to know what the outcome would be.

The most challenging thing about Chris and Claire’s relationship was to give them a conflict they could actually work through. It was very important to me that their difficulties not be insurmountable, which is one of the main reasons I never had Claire and Daniel cross a physical line.

3. What do you think are the most important rules for a happy marriage? Do you believe that “love is a pendulum,” as Claire ponders at the conclusion of the novel?

I firmly believe that communication is key. Many of Claire and Chris’s problems could have been solved by talking to each other. Claire made more than one attempt, but after Chris shut her out she eventually stopped trying. As outsiders, it’s so easy to think, “Why aren’t they talking?” But in reality, it is often the apathy that develops between a couple that ends up being their downfall.

I’ve been married for almost eighteen years, and I absolutely believe that love is a pendulum. Every marriage goes through periods of strength and weakness, but if you never give up, that pendulum will always return to where it should be.


  1. On page 14, Claire states that “there’s a big difference between a good father and a good husband.” Is Chris a good father? Is he a good husband? Do any of the men in the novel embody both traits?
  2. On page 4, Claire’s mother comments that Jordan “relishes order” as much Claire does. How does Jordan’s need for order factor into how she deals with her father’s absences?
  3. Explore how the relationship between Claire and Daniel develops. What was the point when their friendship turned into something more ambiguous? What do you think attracts Claire to Daniel, and vice versa?
  4. Claire’s decision to freelance originated out of economic necessity, but she continues taking on assignments even after Chris lands his job. Why do you think she continues working? What does she enjoy about her job?
  5. On page 14, Claire says that she has “worked hard to keep the façade of this marriage, this life, intact, but only to avoid becoming fodder for the neighborhood gossip mill.” How does this pressure to keep up appearances affect Claire throughout the novel? Bridget? Elisa? Julia?
  6. In your opinion, did Claire cheat on Chris with Daniel? Discuss the boundary between emotionally cheating and physically cheating. At what point in the novel—if any—do you think Claire and Daniel crossed the line?
  7. Over the course of the novel, Julia’s drinking becomes increasingly more frequent and more dangerous. How does her behavior affect her relationships with her neighbors?
  8. How is Claire’s role as parent made more difficult by Chris’ absences? How does his travel interrupt the family dynamic? How does it affect the children?
  9. How does the unexpected visit from Dylan act as a catalyst for Daniel and Claire to examine their relationship?
  10. On page 79, Claire mentions that during the darkest period of Chris’ unemployment, she did not seek him out as a “partner, a confidante…[or] a lover.” By the end of the novel, is Chris able to fulfill these roles?
  11. Throughout the novel, the three narrators each express guilt over how their relationships are being conducted. Explore why each of them feels guilt, how it manifests over the course of the novel, and what they do to mitigate it.
  12. Throughout Covet, Elisa warns Claire to be careful with how she spends her time with Daniel, but Claire routinely dismisses her, claiming she and Daniel are just friends. Do you think men and women can really be platonic friends? If so, are there any behavioral rules or boundaries that should be implemented or respected?
  13. Though Chris believes Claire when she says she did not have a physical relationship with Daniel, he is not entirely uncomfortable with the idea of their friendship. What steps does Claire take to regain her husband’s trust?
  14. By the end of the novel, Claire questions whether it’s possible to love two men at once. Do you think Claire really loves Daniel? Does he love her?
  15. What lessons can you take from Covet and apply in your own relationships?

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Covet 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I really enjoy the authors style of writing and loved On The Island I found this book to be extremley boring. It was a too realistic version of a marraige with no real climax. I am an avid reader and enjoy all types of books but i didnt feel this had any excitement or entertainment value. It was 200+ pages in the mind of a dissatisfied wife which is the life I try to escape when reading not enter. In my opinon not kworth the $12.99.
twimom101 More than 1 year ago
(I actually rated this one 3.5 stars, but always round up to the next star when leaving reviews on sites such as AMAZON, GOODREADS, ets...) Ok, this review is going to be a bit hard for me to do. Why you ask? Well, the thing is I absolutely loved ON THE ISLAND with every ounce of me. But this one just didn't measure up. It actually started really, really, really slow. And there was so much telling in the story I felt like I was getting a play by play of this chick’s entire day. For example... I take a sip of my tea and then spread out my towel on one of the four chaise lounges that Julia has arranged next to the pool. I strip off my cover up and lay down, rolling up another towel and placing it behind my head for a make shift pillow. And that is just one example...there is plenty more scenes I just skipped over. I can handle a bit here and there but it seemed the whole first half of the book was all telling. And I understand the author was trying to get across that Claire and Chris were having problems and she was unhappy, but there so much that could have been left out. And who knows, this is an ARC and some things could change. Another thing was I didn't feel any connection to Claire. With all that her husband went through, I felt she was a tad bit selfish. And while I am glad with how Graves approached the topic of cheating...I still felt that Claire did cheat even though she never actually preformed any sexual acts with Daniel. Everything they did was too intimate for a married woman to be having. By the second half of the book it did pick up. But I was still disappointed with Claire and her actions so I wasn't able to enjoy the book like I wanted too. However, I enjoyed the way the book ended and was happy that it seemed to be a HEA for everyone involved. Because, even though the story is about Claire, Chris, and Daniel...more people are involved. Having all the neighbor’s lives brought in made the story very interesting to me. Even though people may seem perfect on the outside, they could be dealing with some serious battles inside, behind closed doors. COVET is getting a lot of wonderful reviews and it just shows that not everyone reads the same book. So I encourage you to keep that in mind. While it may not have been my kind of read it most definitely could impact you differently and you may fall in love with it. And I will most definitely keep reading Graves' work in the future. I adore her writing and think she is a fantastic author. Thanks to Dutton/Penguin Publishing for contacting me about a review.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
COVET, a compelling novel by Tracey Garvis-Graves looks into the real lives of relationships, marriages, and family dynamics. Claire, a freelance graphic designer and mother of two, loves her husband and family. They have always had the perfect marriage until the last few years when her husband, Chris became distracted and disconnected. Now she feels lonely. It all started when her husband Chris was laid off from work. It took a great deal of time to land another job. Being the primary breadwinner of the family, he worries constantly about his family, their finances and their future, especially since Claire is a diabetic. He lands another position, as Director of Sales, and with this newfound position, comes long work hours and much travel, keeping him away from home and family. When he is in town, he is always working on his laptop, or distracted with work. Their marriage has been on a downward slide and the antidepressants he still takes have adversely affected their sex life. Along comes Daniel—a hot cop who’s instantly attracted to Claire, who happens to stop her for a tail light. They meet again by chance, and strong friendship is formed, as well as an attraction. Claire also is redesigning a logo for the police department and she begins opening up to him about her life. Claire and her husband Chris grow further apart and Daniel is there to pick up the pieces. Claire has to examine her marriage, morals, and wonders if she can love two men. Can Daniel change in time to create balance in his life between work and home, to get back to where they once were before something happens with Daniel? The audiobook was narrated by a man and woman with different perspectives, which was helpful. Written in first person from three points-of-view - Claire, Chris and Daniel – allowing the reader to learn their deepest thoughts. Can they survive the challenges and obstacles which face marriages? Can men and women be friends outside of marriage? Many readers will be able to relate to COVET, with our current economy, unemployment, finances, and the stresses of marriages and family units of today as they try and balance work and home. A contemporary, realistic, and engaging portrayal of one woman's marriage (and others), in crisis and the choices one makes for the sake of love and self.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on the rocks.  Chris has just gone back to work after being laid off from his former job for a year; he’s a workaholic who now has to be away four days and nights a week.  Still depressed because of the constant stress of being unemployed and now having a very stressful job that asks more and more of him, he has just about totally turned off to Claire.  Claire, on the other hand, has gone beyond understanding Chris’s worst fears and now feels totally alone, raising her children by herself most of the time and receiving zilch attention from her totally preoccupied spouse. Add to that some neighbors with their own problems of excessive drinking and more and the reader begins to wonder if everyone’s life is so screwed up.  But Claire is about to enter a dangerous zone that begins being stopped by a police officer, Daniel, for a back light that’s out and enters into a new relationship phase that Claire calls “just good friends.”  In our current social world where half of all marriages dissolve, one wonders where Chris and Claire are headed – or not! How does one decide when it’s better to keep fighting for a love gone awry or let go and move on to other pastures?  Are there depths or degrees of love that determine how one responds to that question? Or perhaps it’s the kids that motivate one’s response to that question?  For Claire and Chris, their children are initially oblivious but then seem to fine-tune to the negative vibes rippling through their parents’ brief encounters.   How about when one fights for a marriage and the unintended discussions turn into angry eruptions?  And what about how the economy resounds in families’ lives so that every person is expected to deliver higher and higher quotas of product delivery that is really the equivalent of two or three people working?  There are other questions about the “roles” of husband and wife in contributing to the family’s bank account through work and more. Covet: A Novel  initially reads like a stereotypical story of a declining marriage and yet one might want to read it with some of these relevant questions in mind that almost every American couple will be asking at one time or another because this novel portrays the reality of the American economy now!  For that reason, this is a novel deserving to be read and pondered by many, many readers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved every word. Just perfect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars, but that wasn't an option. The premise of the book is fresh and original because it presents new definition of adultery. The main character was well written, but many of the supporting characters were two-two-dimentional. One thing I really liked is how well the author portrays everyday life when you're married with children. This isn't a fluffy or glossy book even though it does fit the chick lit category.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book!!!!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written & powerful
CoffeeGoddessTK More than 1 year ago
This is a bittersweet story of an ordinary life. I had not previously read anything by Tracey Garvis Graves, but was interested in this book from the time that I read the synopsis. I didn't read any reviews beforehand, and am glad that I didn't, because I might have been tempted to bypass it based on what other readers wrote. Yes, there is plenty of description of the Cantons' daily life, and yes, it's very much like so many of our own. But this is where I find the beauty in this story; it could happen to any one of us. The story is not so much in how Claire and Chris find themselves in the situation that led to their lives diverging as they did, but in how they react when they do. The importance of communication and relationship is front and center here. When Claire finds herself adrift after Chris loses his job, the relationships she has with her friends, her family, and then Daniel, become her anchors. When Chris loses himself in the isolation that accompanies his unemployment, and becomes unavailable to his family, especially Claire, he finds himself having to redefine himself, to figure out how to navigate previously uncharted territory. I just think that this is a very real and very timely story, and I find Ms. Graves' narration lovely. The story itself is bittersweet, but filled with hope, and I heartily recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book from beginning to end (as I have all of Garvis Graves books). I love how it didn't go where I thought it would and ended on a positive note! Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sylviae562 More than 1 year ago
Good Book! Characters so "Real"! In the end I had tears in my eyes! Great Author! Story sounds so real!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait for the next book. It keeps you guessing until the end. A book you want to read in one sitting. Excellent author. Loved her first novel and this one didn't disappoint.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this book before reading On the Island. Though I do own On the Island, I just haven’t reviewed it yet. The hype for it was so massive I was a bit nervous to read it. I also didn’t want it to taint my feelings of Covet unfairly. I have this habit of comparing books to prior books by the author, and because of this I find that sometimes I may not be rating them fairly. (I’m working on this.  :P ) Sooooo, I decided not to do that this time. I went into this with a completely clean slate for an author that was brand new to me. At first, Covet was a bit monotonous… thoroughly covering the daily route of a married couple, Chris and Claire. I do see how this was necessary to set the scene for the story, but at times it was a tad boring. By about 20% though, the story was full of all the feels I was hoping for. This story tugged and ripped at my heartstrings like no other in quite some time. I even shed a few tears, which is unusual for me. Covet revolves around the age-old question: Can guys and girls be friends? And though the topic of cheating itself is reprehensible to most, it’s a real and honest issue that many married spouses face. This author did a fantastic job of broaching such a sensitive topic in a delicate, but realistic, way. Having the added POV of Daniel, along with Chris and Claire, brought this story to full force. The emotions of all three people were brought to life through their thoughts, their words and their actions. Claire’s emotional struggles and loneliness; Chris’ stress and anxiety over failure; Daniel’s strong love and desire to deal with his losses in life. I was able to relate to all characters, becoming completely invested in their lives. I’m so pleased I went the audio route with this one. Kathleen McInerney and Scott Aiello were able to bring out the dread, guilt, love and longing of all characters in each separate situation. The voices of Daniel and Chris were separate and distinct enough to be clearly understood, and Claire’s voice was exactly how I would have imagined it. Kathleen and Scott were the perfect choices for this narration. Now that I know I love this author, I’m ready to read On the Island.  ;) Hmmm, maybe I should go the audio route with this one as well. I have a feeling actually hearing the story being told may really bring it to life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bitten-By-Love-Reviews More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a marriage on the brink of disaster. It's about the struggle of a husband dealing with downsizing, unable to find a job for a year and then finally being hired by a company that has him traveling all the time. It's about a wife trying to hold her family together while dealing with immense loneliness. It's about communication in a marriage... something that is sorely lacking in. Add in a handsome man and there is bound to be issues. This is such a powerful and emotional story about the difficult situations couples have to face in the journey called marriage! It makes up remember that marriage is not all sunshine and happily ever afters, Marriage is work. And, no matter how much we love someone, life sometimes has a way of challenging our commitment to one another. Ms. Graves has written a story that will make you think, "What would I do in this situation?" It made me question what my feelings would be and how I would handle things, given the circumstances of everything that occurred. I love the fact that in the end Claire made the best decision for her family. This is a must read.
Barb-TRC More than 1 year ago
Covet by Tracey Garvis-Graves is another fabulous book about love, life, situations and subjects that push our emotions, and question our beliefs. Covet is a wonderful story of a marriage that starts to slowly fall apart, caused by normal life situations, and how we handle them. When we meet Claire Canton, she is with her group of friends from the neighborhood, which reminded me of Desperate Housewives. They have been married for over 12 years, each being the love of their lives, with two children, Jordan and Josh. Chris was a very successful business man, making good money to give his family a good life, but things have changed. He has been unemployed for over a year, now going into their savings to make ends meet. Chris loses his confidence, and begins to take anti depressant pills, which slowly causes him to pull away from Claire. Claire becomes lonely, somewhat angry, and she herself begins to not care anymore, devoting herself to her children. Finally Chris gets a job, not quite what he wants, but he needs to work, and this job requires traveling 5 days a week, which will be more loneliness for Claire. One day while driving, Claire is stopped by a cop for a broken tailgate. She meets Officer Daniel Rush, who immediately catches her eye, as he is a hunk. Circumstances accidentally have Daniel and Claire run into each other a couple of times, and slowly a real friendship develops. Daniel himself is recently coming off of a divorce, and he too is lonely. Daniel and Claire spend more time together as friends, both of whom are lonely, texting each other often, having weekly lunch meetings, riding on his bike, shopping and even going to the movies. As Chris’s visits become less and less, and his distance drives Claire to look forward more and more to her meetings with Daniel. Claire confides to her friend, who warned her to be careful. The question comes up “Do you think men and women can be just friends?” Slowly their friendship becomes something more emotionally, as they both begin to care about each other. A romance does build, though there is never any sexual relationship. Daniel knew it was wrong to care abut Claire, as he did not want to be the reason for breaking up her family, but he couldn’t deny his growing feelings for her. Claire also knows where this could be heading, and that it was wrong, as she still loved her husband, even if he has been distant. But she also knows she is falling hard for Daniel. When Claire and the children get sick, Chris ignores his abusive boss, and goes home for week to take care of his family. Claire ends up in the hospital deathly ill, and Chris and Claire must come to terms with their lives and what needs to be done. This is a wonderful insightful story about love, marriage, relationships. No one does this better then Tracey Garvis-Graves. She can push our buttons emotionally, making us question our own feelings. Do you consider a friendship between a man and woman to be adultery if there is no sexual relationship? Tracey Garvis-Graves creates some wonderful secondary characters as she shows us life among friends, isn’t always as it seems; with an array of a life changing topics, such as unemployment, finance, gambling, alcoholism, cheating, etc. Covet is another wonderful and emotional story by Tracey Garvis-Graves. If you want a simple thought provoking romance with life situations, but one that does have it’s own HEA, then Covet is a must read.
Laura_Downside_Vamp More than 1 year ago
* I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review * This was such an emotionally gripping book. I loved the three point of views that really gave you the full spectrum of feelings and allowed the reader to get close to all three characters, instead of automatically making one or more out to be the wrong doer. Tracey Garvis Graves really has a way to reach in and grab the reader until the last page. This will not be my last book from her!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great attempt to tackle a tough moral and ethical subject without getting religiously-charged. I think all married adults should read it annually to realize how marriage can truly be fragile unless it is maintained. It was engaging but the parts of the relationship and some of the scenarios seemed a little unrealistic. I very much enjoyed it and kept the characters with me long after I finished.  I thought about them long afterward and wanted more of Daniel. (I wouldn't mind reading a sequel about him). I would definitely recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lori_Zalewski More than 1 year ago
Find this review and more at Lusty Penguin Reviews! Covet is an enthralling and dramatic story of a marriage at a crossroads. Tracey Garvis Graves pulls the reader into this impressive and emotional story using first person voice through the eyes of the three major characters: Claire Canton, Chris Canton, and Daniel Rush. Claire fears that her marriage with Chris is on the verge of failing after his year of unemployment. Although Chris has found employment, his new job keeps him out of town for the majority of the week. Claire is trying to balance her freelance design work and their two children while Chris is always out of town. With Chris being on the road all the time, Claire is lonely. I really could empathize with Claire’s character as she does her best to keep Chris interested in her. But unfortunately for Claire, he is unresponsive and continues to ignore her. Everything changes when Claire takes a design job at the local police department and spends time with Officer Daniel Rush. Claire and Daniel become platonic friends and spend lots of time with each other. I really felt for Claire’s character as she struggles with the attention she receives from Daniel because deep down she really wishes it was coming from her husband. Chris loves his children and Claire, but he is completely unaware of how his actions are affecting those around him. He always spends time with the children when he returns home from his trips, but Chris neglects Claire, which made it hard to like his character. By the end, Chris finally opens his eyes to the error of his ways and makes significant changes to his job and to his relationship with Claire, which had me smiling. Daniel is an attentive man and senses that Claire is lonely. When he approaches her, Daniel makes it clear that he is only interested in being her friend. Through texts, phone calls, and meals, Daniel and Claire build a strong friendship. Daniel’s thoughtfulness is touching and makes him an endearing character. As Claire and Daniel’s relationship heads to crossing the line from which they cannot return, I was so thoroughly engrossed that I needed to keep reading to figure out how Graves was going to resolve this triangle. Graves does a masterful job of handling the various emotions each of these characters feels. Knowing that I wasn’t reading a romance with a guaranteed happy ending, I was pleased with the stunning way Graves ends this story, which had me in tears. With multi-dimensional characters dealing with realistic situations, Covet is a mesmerizing reading experience that will haunt you long after the last word is read. I received an eBook copy from the First to Read – Penguin for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.