The Life She Wants by Robyn CarrThe Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira Books on September 27th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Borrowed: print book

In the aftermath of her financier husband's suicide, Emma Shay Compton's dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients' life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband's crimes. She is left with nothing.

Only one friend stands by her, a friend she's known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn't easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she'd rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.

Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can't escape her husband's reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she'd ever ask for help—her former best friend. It's an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they've made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.

Wow. This was a shock to my system after reading the early Virgin River books this past weekend. I went from those books to this standalone and really didn’t get what was happening in this book. We follow two women whose storyline barely merged with each other and a happy ending that really didn’t work based on all that came before it.

Emma is dealing with the fallout from her husband’s suicide and her realization that he was well on his way to being another Bernie Madoff before his suicide. She thought she had it all before she had a couple of eye opening moments realizing her entire courtship and marriage was a lie. She decides to return to her hometown of Sonoma since she only has $9,000 to her name and no way of getting another job in New York City due to her being known.

Riley is a successful businesswoman and single mother. She may still grieve over the end of her friendship with Emma, but she thinks that she is well past it until Emma returns to Sonoma.

Emma I felt for though she may leave you a bit frustrated at times. For someone who literally is attacked with a full bedpan by a victim of her husband’s schemes, I thought she was a bit too calm at times. You keep reading about how she needs to get her life together, but she falls into a romance pretty quick. That romance was boring as anything too. I mean I don’t need to read about people upside down on chandeliers, but there was no passion there. I think Emma gets involved in it because the person is safe. The male hero sees her as an ideal he has always wanted since he was younger so I felt like he was just happy to be anywhere near her. The romance doesn’t struggle or go through anything big at all so I maybe shrugged about it a lot while reading. Emma sticking her nose into everyone’s business also didn’t work for me either. It just came out of nowhere and really threw off the book. We get a  B plot that this book didn’t need. In fact when I think of it there are two main plots and two B plots. I would rather have had her interacting more with Riley and building back up their friendship.

Riley and her business (cleaning) was great. I loved that Carr adds in a ton of details so once again you know she did research or at least knew enough about the subject. I would love to see some of the employees mentioned in their own follow up books, but that’s just me. I thought Riley trying to hide from her teen daughter how she came to be was lame. This is the age of Facebook, Twitter, etc. I find it unbelievable that no one told her daughter before now about her mom’s past. Riley’s two love interests, once again I found bland as anything. It was weird, I could have done without the men since they were all pretty faceless and unimpressive in my eyes.

We have some secondary characters (two of the love interests, the third I guess doesn’t need to allow readers to be privy to his thoughts). Everyone else except for a few were interchangeable.

The writing was good because as I already said, you definitely get that Carr did research on the cleaning business. Everything else though, the investigation into Emma didn’t really work though. It just felt thrown in.

The flow was up and down. I think because the book felt like two separate stories about two women who grew up together, but then definitely grew apart.

I think there were enough elements to make this a good book, but unfortunately, the two characters never fully came together for me. I felt like I was reading two stories where the characters just happen to live in the same town. I really needed to see more interaction between Emma and Riley. Or at least maybe a huge prologue of showing them together as best friends before their rift.

The ending was okay, but once again Carr throws in a infertile woman finds herself pregnant element and after reading Virgin River I am pretty good on not reading that trope in romance for a good long while.