My Husband's Sweethearts

My Husband's Sweethearts

by Bridget Asher


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385341905
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/19/2009
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,000,368
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Bridget Asher is the author of My Husband’s Sweethearts. She lives on the Florida panhandle with her husband, who is lovable, sweet, and true of heart—and has given her no reason to inquire about his former sweethearts.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Don't Try to Define Love Unless
You Need a Lesson in Futility

Careening past airline counters toward the security check-in, I'm explaining love and its various forms of failure to Lindsay, my assistant. Amid the hive of travelers—retirees in Bermuda shorts, cats in carry-on boxes perforated with air holes, hassled corporate stiffs—I find myself in the middle of a grand oration on love with a liberal dose of rationalizations. I've fallen in love with lovable cheats. I've adored the wrong men for the wrong reasons. I'm culpable. I've suffered an unruly heart and more than my share of prolonged bouts of poor judgment. I have lacked some basics in the area of control. For example: I had no control over the fact that I fell in love with Artie Shoreman—a man eighteen years my senior. I had no control over the fact that I am still in love with him even after I found out, in one fell swoop, that he had three affairs during our four-year marriage. Two were lovers he'd had before we got married, but had kept in touch with—held on to, really, like parting gifts from his bachelorhood, living memorabilia. Artie didn't want to call these affairs because they were spur-of-the-moment. They weren't premeditated. He trotted out terminology like fling and dalliance. The third affair he called accidental.

And I have no control over the fact that I am angry that Artie's gotten so sick—so deathbedish—in the midst of this and that I blame him for his dramatic flair. I have no control over the compulsion I feel to go back home to him right now, bailing out of a speech on convoluted SEC regulations—because my mother has told me in a middle-of-the-night, bad-news phone call that his health is grave. I have no control over the fact that I'm still furious at Artie for being a cheat just when one might, possibly, expect me to soften, at least a little.

I'm telling Lindsay how I left Artie shortly after I found out about the affairs and how that was the right thing to do six months ago. I tell her how all three affairs were revealed at once—like some awful game show.

Lindsay is petite. Her jacket sleeves are always a bit too long for her, as if she's wearing an older sister's hand-me-downs that she hasn't quite grown into. She has silky blond hair that swings around like she's trapped in a shampoo commercial, and she wears small glasses that slip down the bridge of a nose so perfect and narrow I'm not sure how she breathes through it. It's as if her nose were designed as an accent piece without regard to function. She knows this whole story, of course. She's nodding along in full agreement. I forge on.

I tell her that this hasn't been so bad, opting for business trip after business trip, a few months hunkered down with one client and then another, every convention opportunity—a life of short-term corporate rentals and hotel rooms. It was supposed to allow me some time and space to get my heart together. The plan was that when I saw Artie again, I'd be ready, but I'm not.

"Love can't be ordered around or even run by a nice-enough democracy," I tell Lindsay. My definition of a democracy consists of polling the only two people I've chosen to confide in—my anxiety-prone office assistant, Lindsay, who at this very moment is clipping along next to me through JFK airport's terminal, and my overwrought mother, who's got me on speed dial.

"Love refuses to barter," I say. "It won't haggle with you like that Turkish man with the fake Gucci bags." My mother insists I get her a fake Gucci bag each time I'm in New York on business; my carry-on is bulging with fake Gucci at this very moment.

"Love isn't logical," I insist. "It's immune to logic." In my case: my husband is a cheater and a liar, therefore I should move on or decide to forgive him, which is an option that I've heard some women actually choose in situations like this.

Lindsay says, "Of course, Lucy. No doubt about it!"

There's something about Lindsay's confident tone that rattles me. She's often overly positive, and sometimes her high-salaried agreement makes me double-think. I try to carry on with the speech. I say, "I have to stick by my mistakes, though, including the ones that I came by naturally through my mother." My mother—the Queen of Poor Judgment in Men. I flash on an image of her in a velour sweat suit, smiling at me with a mix of hopeful pride and pity. "I have to stick by my mistakes because they've made me who I am. And I'm someone that I've come to like—except when I get flustered ordering elaborate side dishes in sushi restaurants, in which case I'm completely overbearing, I know."

"No kidding," Lindsay agrees, a little too quickly.

And now I stop in the middle of the airport—my laptop swinging forward, my little carry-on suitcase wheels coming to a quick halt (I've only packed necessities—Lindsay will ship the rest of my things later). "I'm not ready to see him," I say.

"Artie needs you," my mother had told me during last night's phone call. "He is your husband still, after all. And it's very bad form to leave a dying husband, Lucy."

This was the first time that anyone had said that Artie was going to die—aloud, matter-of-factly. Until that moment it had been serious, surely, but he's still young—only fifty. He comes from a long line of men who died young, but that shouldn't mean anything—not with today's advances in medicine. "He's just being dramatic," I told my mother, trying to return to the old script, the one where we joke about Artie's dire attempts to get me back.

"But what if he isn't just being dramatic?" she said. "You need to be here. Your being away now, well, it's bad karma. You'll come back in your next life as a beetle."

"Since when do you talk about karma?" I asked.

"I'm dating a Buddhist now," my mother said. "Didn't I tell you that?"

Lindsay has grabbed my elbow. "Are you okay?"

"My mother is dating a Buddhist," I tell her, as if explaining how terribly wrong everything is. My eyes have filled with tears. The airport signs overhead go blurry. "Here." I hand her my pocketbook. "I won't be able to find my ID."

She leads me to a set of phones near an elevator and starts digging through my purse. I can't root through it right now. I can't because I know what's stuffed inside—all the little cards that I've pulled from little envelopes stuck in small plastic green forks accompanying the daily deliveries of flowers that Artie's ordered long distance. He's found me no matter what hotel room I'm in or apartment I'm put up in anywhere I happen to be in the continental U.S. (How does he know where I am? Who gives him my itinerary—my mother? I've always suspected her, but have never told her to stop. Secretly, I like Artie to know where I am. Secretly, I need the flowers, even though part of me hates them—and him.)

"I'm glad you kept all of these," Lindsay says. She's been in my hotel rooms. She's seen the flowers that collect until they're all in various stages of wilt. She hands me my license.

"I wish I hadn't kept them. I'm pretty sure it's a sign of weakness," I tell her.

She pulls one out. "I've always wondered," she says, "you know, what he has to say in all of those cards."

Suddenly I don't want to find my way into the line at security with a herd of strangers. The line is long, but still I have plenty of time—too much. In fact, I know I'll be restless on the other side, feel a little caged myself—like one of those cats in the carry-ons. I don't want to be alone. "Go ahead."

"Are you sure?" She raises her thin eyebrows.

I think about it a moment longer. I don't really want to hear Artie's love notes. Part of me is desperate to grab the pocketbook out of her hands, tell her sorry, changed my mind, and get in line with everyone else. But another part of me wants her to read these cards, to see if they are as manipulative as I think they are. In fact, I think I need that right now. A little sisterly validation. "Yes," I tell her.

She plucks the note and reads aloud, "Number forty-seven: the way you think every dining room should have a sofa in it for people who want to lie down to digest, but still be part of the witty conversation." She glances at me.

"I like to lie down after I eat—like the Egyptians or something. The dining room sofa just makes good sense."

"Do you have one?"

"Artie bought me one for our first anniversary." I don't want to think of it now, but it's there in my mind—a long antique sofa reupholstered with a fabric of red poppies on a white background and dark wood trim that matches the dining room furniture. We made love on it that first night in the house, the boxy pillows sliding out from under us onto the floor, the aged springs creaking.

She pulls out another one and reads, "Number fifty-two: how the freckles on your chest can be connected to make an approximate constellation of Elvis."

A crew of flight attendants glides by in what seems to be the V formation of migrating geese. A few of Artie's old girlfriends were flight attendants. He made his money opening an Italian restaurant during his late twenties (despite a lack of any real Italian blood in him) and then launching a national chain. He traveled a lot. Flight attendants were plentiful. I watch them swish by in their nylons, the wheels on their suitcases rumbling. My stomach cinches up for a moment. "He actually did that once, connected the freckles, and documented it. We have the photos." I'm waiting for Lindsay's righteous anger to become apparent, but this doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, I notice that she's smiling a little.

She pulls out a third. "Number fifty-five: the way you're afraid that if you forgive your father—once and for all—he might really disappear in some way, even though he's been dead for years."

Lindsay raises her eyebrows at me again.

"Artie's a great listener. He remembers everything. What can I say? It doesn't mean that I should forgive his betrayal and go home to him." Here's one of the reasons I hate Artie. He is so fully and completely himself, his own person, but when I asked him why he cheated on me, he came up with a tired, worn-out response. He constantly falls in love. He thought he could stop when we got married, but he couldn't. He confessed that he fell in love with women all the time, all day, every day, that he adores everything about women—the way they sway when they walk, their fine necks—he even loves their imperfections. And he would get caught up. They confided in him, women did. Suddenly it seemed that a woman was telling him everything and then the next minute she was unbuttoning her blouse. He told me that he hated himself—of course—and that he didn't want to hurt me. At the same time, he loved the women he'd had affairs with—all in different ways for different reasons. But he didn't want to spend his life with them. He wanted to spend his life with me. I hate Artie for betraying me, yes, but I might hate him more for getting me caught up in such an embarrassing cliché.

I was too heartbroken to respond, too angry to do anything but leave.

"Do you think he'll be okay?" Lindsay asks, meaning his health.

"I know," I tell her. "I know. A good person would go home and forgive him because he's so sick. A good person probably would have stayed put and tried to sort it all out, in person, one way or the other and not just run around the country like I did. I know." I'm getting emotional. I take a moment to press the tears from my eyes. I wipe away some mascara. Why did I put on makeup at all? I realize that I'm dressed all wrong. I'm wearing a professional outfit—tan slacks, expensive shoes, a blazer. What was I thinking? I remember getting dressed while packing quickly. I was on autopilot—bumping around my hotel room amid the dying flowers. I'm an auditor—a partner in a firm, in fact—and I look like one—even now when I shouldn't. Trust me, I'm aware of the irony that it's my job to know when someone is cheating and that I was blind to Artie's infidelity for so long. "I'm supposed to know fraud, intimately. It's what I do for a living, Lindsay. How could I have not seen it?"

"Well, he wasn't really handling his risk of detection very well." Lindsay smiles, trying to cheer me. She's recently gone to a lecture on the risk of detection and is proud of herself in this moment. "You'll sort it out, Lucy. You sort everything out. It's what you do best!"

"At work," I tell her. "But my personal history doesn't bear that out exactly. Two different worlds."
Lindsay looks around the airport like she's a little confused—she's wearing her confusion on her face, advertising her confusion, as if she's just for the first time heard that there are actually two different worlds—a twilight zone moment. I've been grooming her for upward mobility. She's going to be taking over while I'm on leave and she'll have to work on her toughness if she's going to make it through. I've talked to her about trying not to display her emotions so readily. I'd give her a little lecture on that right now—but I'm no model of emotional discipline at present.

"You think I should forgive him, don't you? You think I should go home and that we should try to figure it out, don't you?"

She's not sure what to say. She looks side to side and then she gives in and nods.

"Because he deserves it or because he's sick?"

She shifts. "I'm not sure that this is the right reason or not, but, well, because I've never had a boyfriend who could get past three or, maybe, four reasons why he loved me. Not that I've asked for a list or anything, but, you know what I mean. Because Artie loves you like that."

Artie loves me like that—it seems true in this instant, as if she's stripped away all of the gestures that I've taken as manipulation and just seen them purely, as a manifestation of his love—for me. I'm shocked by this way of seeing it—the bareness of it all. I'm not certain how to reply. "I'm sure you'll do fine while I'm gone," I tell her. "I know you can do it."

From the Hardcover edition.

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My Husband's Sweethearts 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
BookWorm90210 More than 1 year ago
After reading The Pretend Wife, I immediately had to find other books written by Bridget Asher. Another great book by Bridget. Couldn't put it down. You grow to love each of the characters is a different way. A must read!
Joshua_Helms More than 1 year ago
My Husband's Sweethearts, a novel by Bridget Asher (pen name of the mighty and prolific Julianna Baggott), is worth your time, my friends.

The story is rich with an array of characters, and Asher handles each of them masterfully: you feel like you know each character, and you know what's at stake for them. The refreshing thing here (and you'll find it in Baggott's writing in general) is that each character is treated with a great amount of care and precision; these are people on a journey and Asher seeks to make that clear by taking the time to show the journey. Each character's journey is tied to another character's journey, but Asher doesn't glaze over the loneliness of suffering: her snapshots of each character in their very specific moments of grieving are breathtaking. I dare you to walk away untouched.

The prose is witty as hell and always sharp, each scene rendered purposefully. Through Lucy's eyes, we navigate an actual human existence: all the little things and big things that comprise a life.

Don't miss the meditation on family here. Asher creates a large group of seemingly different characters and binds them as a unit. Family here is much more than just DNA and obligation. Asher pushes you to see that, to see that families--emotional bonds--are fostered out of the strangest situations (e.g. Lucy becoming attached to some of her husband's sweethearts).

Also, while this is such a novel about women, let's not forget the men: Artie and John. Asher writes Artie in a manner that goes beyond ideas of being forgiving or non-forgiving: he's just a man, plain and simple, and he's not perfect. John is the ultimate sweetheart of the novel, a young man who's incredibly earnest and full of heart. Each scene with him is a gift. Arguably, Asher writes men better than some men writing today: her characterizations and scenes lead to a truth worth sticking around for.

Know that Asher is a writer who aims for your heart. And she doesn't miss.
bookwormteri on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I don't think that I could sit at a husband's bedside while he was dying, knowing that he had cheated on me...more accurately, was a serial cheater, and I had just found out. I know that I have never loved anyone enough for that. Lucy can...kind of. She discovers her husband's infidelities and leaves for a business trip. While on her trip, Artie finds out that he is dying...and quickly. She eventually comes back to deal with it. Lucy is written so beautifully, she is angry, sad, still in love, furious, scared...While drunk, she randomly calls some women from his little black book and invites them to take their turn at his bedside. Some show up. Hopeful, this book shows that family is what you make it. I am not normally one for yay blah blah blah, everything will be alright books, but I really liked this one. Touching.
cougargirl1967 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I loved it! So much so I'm going to keep for awhile, I normally only keep non fiction for reference.
jenn_stringer on LibraryThing 25 days ago
What would you do if you found out your husband was a "serial cheater" and he was dying. Call all his old girlfriends to take a turn at his deathbed of course! Cute! this one will be turned into a Hollywood movie at some point. My guess is it has already been optioned.
ennie on LibraryThing 25 days ago
The book jacket calls this a "sophisticated romantic comedy" but I call it self-consciously cute. Lucy's much older husband is dying, but he's been a cheater so she goes through his little black book and calls in his exes for a last good-bye. A few of them stick around, as well as his newly discovered son from a former relationship. Eh, not really believable.
knitwit2 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
An ambitious premise for a short book. Sad and at the same time entertaining, yet wholly unbelievable. A beach read at best. A few errors that editors clearly missed - a little distracting to the reader.
tammydotts on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A plot synopsis reads like a Lifetime-movie-gone wrong: Lucy¿s discovery of her husband¿s infidelities is followed quickly by discovering he¿s dying. Accepting a sarcastic challenge from her husband, Artie, Lucy calls the women in his little black book. All that¿s needed at the end is ¿hilarity ensues¿ to place My Husband¿s Sweethearts into the growing genre of books to be read in Laundromats or on airplanes and then left behind, completely forgotten.Except that doesn¿t happen here. What saves the book is Bridget Asher¿s gift of characterization. All of the women who make an appearance at the deathbed have personalities and voices of their own. Some of the sweethearts become strong, supporting characters, while others simply make cameo appearances. Regardless of the number of pages they appear on, each makes a strong entrance and impression. Asher tells the story in a first-person narrative. Although it is Lucy who describes the physical and psychic appearance of the sweethearts, she does so in an objective voice. Two of the sweethearts are integral to the story. Elspa, a free-spirit, former drug addict, says Artie saved her life. She becomes a temporary resident in the house, and Lucy and the others end up on a road trip to reclaim Elspa¿s daughter. Along for the ride is Eleanor, one of the first to respond to Lucy¿s after-midnight, drunken summons to Artie¿s side. Eleanor is the one who arranges a schedule for the visitors and seems to hold a grudge against Artie more than the others. The character fits into the book well, balancing Lucy and Elspa. The one jangled note is the culmination of John Bessom¿s story. Bessom is Artie¿s estranged adult son, and, while the discovery and growth of their relationship is well told, how it wraps up raises more questions than it should. Perhaps a more subtle end hinting at the chapters following ¿the end¿ would have been better.The characters are the strongest part of the novel, but Asher¿s deft use of emotion should not be overlooked. The book moves smoothly through slow and sudden changes from humor to sorrow with stops along the way for anger and joy.My Husband¿s Sweethearts may not be great literature, but it is entertaining read that deserves to be remembered.
julko on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I liked this book more than I thought I would. While I still classify it as "chick lit," it had more depth than I expected. I thought it had some honest insight into dying. The ending was a bit too predictable, but overall I'd recommend it.
busyreadin on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Interesting premise..betrayed wife, dying husband, a parade of "other" women saying goodbye.Slow moving, and I didn't find any of the characters very interesting.
julyso on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Lucy Shoreman discovers her husband is a serial cheater and leaves him. She is on her own and working when she receives a phone call from her mother telling her that Artie is dying. Her mother insists that she come home and reluctantly Lucy does. One evening, Lucy gets a bit drunk and calls some of Artie's "sweethearts" and invites them to come take their turn at his deathbed. The sweethearts actually start showing up and that is when the fun really begins! Some become friends, some inspire jealously, and others bring surprises about Artie.I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a lot of fun. The characters were engaging and memorable. The story was different, but very believable. Lots of witty moments, but also many tender moments, which made me enjoy the book even more. The only part that I felt could be improved upon was the ending. The ending was fine, it just didn't seem to fit with what I thought was an engaging story.
24girl on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Lucy Shoreman¿s husband Artie is a cheater. When Lucy learns this she confronts him only to have him confess there have been two other affairs during their four year marriage. To cope with Artie¿s infidelity Lucy leaves home and immerses herself in work for six months to deal with his betrayal. Then she receives a middle of the night phone call from her mother, he¿s gravely ill. ¿Artie needs you. He is your husband still, after all. And it¿s very bad form to leave a dying husband.¿Lucy returns home but still can¿t bring herself to forgive Artie. After more than a few drinks Lucy picks up the phone, calls up all the former sweethearts in Artie¿s little black book and announces, ¿Artie Shoreman is dying, Please call to schedule your turn at his deathbed.¿ What happens next surprises everyone, the sweethearts begin to show up. From the young, tattooed and pierced Elba to Artie¿s former high school teacher, the elderly Mrs. Dutton with many in between. An unlikely friendship begins to form with some of these women and you¿re pulled along an emotional roller coaster with Lucy.Asher¿s writing is truly amazing. I laughed, I cried and it seemed that I could truly feel Lucy¿s emotion in her words. I couldn¿t believe how fast I got to the end of the book. Along with Lucy¿s road to forgiveness there are two other story lines that develop bringing a surprise ending to this incredible story about love.
ctiker on LibraryThing 25 days ago
When Lucy Shoreman finds out her unfaithful husband is very close to death and needs her by his side to help him navigate this, the final adventure of his life, she feels it is fitting that the other women she has unwittingly shared him with come along for the ride. This is the underlying idea for Bridget Asher's novel, and while the story is fun, sometimes funny and does hold interest, it falls short of poignancy and very few of the characters are fully fleshed and believable.That said, this still is a good read if you want something very light - like for the beach or on a plane....
detailmuse on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I grew wary when I discovered My Husband¿s Sweethearts is chick-lit. I¿ve sampled the genre, and have found its too-chatty, first-person narrators and tragi-silly content to be unbearable. But this novel¿s mix of likeable characters, smart dialogue, and touching moments -- evocative of the wonderful Elinor Lipman -- was so much fun!Thirty-ish Lucy Shoreman is an accomplished corporate auditor and the estranged wife of a much-older -- and serially unfaithful -- husband, Artie. Though still smarting from his betrayals, she agrees to return home to him when she learns he¿s dying of heart failure. Once there and in possession of his little black book, she begins phoning his past lovers to demand that they now take turns at his deathbed. A background procession of women eventually flows through the house, but the core of the novel is the growth of a mutual support system among Lucy, her mother, two of Artie¿s lovers, and his estranged adult son. The characters are so well drawn that I found myself casting the movie as I read (and indeed, film rights for this romantic comedy have already been optioned). I¿ll not only watch for other novels by Bridget Asher (a pen name of author Julianna Baggott) ¿ but maybe take an occasional re-look at the genre.
rglossne on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Reasonably well written chick lit, with an irresistible hook: the cheating husband is dying, and the cheated upon wife decides to invite all his former sweethearts to take a turn at his deathbed. What starts out as an effort at revenge turns into a life changing interlude, as Lucy the wife learns more about her soon to be late husband, and herself. Of course, she finds true love and a new family out of the ashes of this potentially devastating situation. A quick entertaining read.
nnjmom on LibraryThing 25 days ago
My Husband¿s Sweethearts by Bridget Asher was the book that kept me company poolside as my kids swam this week, and it was good company indeed. Asher¿s writing style reminds me a little of Marisa de los Santos, who has a blurb on the front cover of my ARC copy. While Asher may not have quite as unique a voice as de los Santos, or be quite as polished an author, her characters are fully drawn, quirky, and will make you love them.Lucy hasn¿t lived with her husband Artie for six months, since he confessed to multiple infidelities. Artie has been trying to win her back, sending her flowers every day, swearing that he still loves her, but Lucy¿s not buying it. Then she receives the news that Artie is dying.Lucy heads home to Artie¿s deathbed, angry that she will have to go through this hardest of times alone, while Artie¿s sweethearts got to be in on all the good times. She decides she won¿t go through it alone, and starts calling the women in Artie¿s ¿little black book.¿During the weeks that follow, Lucy will learn the meaning of forgiveness, letting go, and family. Is family simply the people we¿re related to, or can family be something we choose?4 out of 5 stars
moonstormer on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I would love to say that this is a beautiful, profound book that would appeal to anyone, regardless of the fact that it is chick lit, but that would be untrue. I did think that this was an entertaining book with a fabulous premise; it was a quick read and would certainly be great to read on the beach or a plane. Some of the characters were rather 2 dimensional, and the plot was not exactly well carried out. That said, there were some poignant moments and it was an enjoyable chick lit book to read.
vtaylir on LibraryThing 25 days ago
My husband¿s sweethearts is a classic storyline of the cheating but endearing husband who never really admits his flaws, but doesn¿t deny the hurtful effect they have on others. The twist is he is on his deathbed, and wants forgiveness for his wife and all of his other sweethearts. The woman who lives he touched both good and bad rally around each other to make his last days on earth wonderful and dreadful at the same time. True to its course the ending was a bittersweet in all the right ways. I was not inspired by this book was not disappointed either. The characters were honest but I didn¿t feel I connected with any of them on a deep level. It is funny, charming, and quick read.
suefernandez on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I enjoyed this book. It hit close to home, with a friend who has a husband that can't seem to stop cheating, but overall he's a great guy and does love her. I could almost picture her calling his former "sweethearts" in a drunken state. The book was full of colorful characters and was touching, and funny.
LynnB on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Lucy's husband, Artie Shoreman, is dying. When she finds out he cheated on her, she calls some of his past (some not very far past) girlfriends and invites them to take their turns at his deathbed. Surprisingly, some start showing up. This is an intriguing premise and the book is entertaining in a light-hearted way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny, poignant -- actually, hilarious! Love the baby names!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a waste of time. The plot was both stupid and cliched.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JuniperJenny More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! I read it a few years ago and I still think about the characters. After reading this book, I put Bridget Asher on my list of authors to watch!