Publication date: September 27th 2016
My rating: 4 stars
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#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr creates an emotional and uplifting ensemble of characters in this rags-to-riches-to-rags novel about women, friendship and the complex path to happiness 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.
Emma has returned to Sonoma County after the suicide of her husband, a man convicted of bilking millions of dollars from investors reminiscent of Bernie Madoff. Her husband was a piece of work, but Emma sort of let herself be taken on a fairytale ride without examining the details too closely before everything blew up. After living a life of supreme luxury, Emma is left with nothing and not many options for employment on the East Coast after the notoriety of the trial. At the urging of an old friend Emma returns, after sixteen years away, but not without some reservations. Going back will surely mean that she’ll run into her former best-friend, Riley. Riley and Emma were like sisters until Riley’s betrayal in college, and I couldn’t blame Emma for leaving after discovering the details.
It’s a little more difficult to talk about Riley without spoiling some things. At first I was really ticked at her for what she did in the past. But life isn’t black and white and when you get down to the details and feelings, I could understand, and I felt bad for Riley, too. One mistake was a huge blow to both of them with the loss of such a close friendship they never quite recovered from the betrayal. Emma’s situation paved the way to understanding and reconciliation, because it’s really hard to stay mad at someone when you see them on a regular basis. You end up having to face the problem, and work it out.
My heart went out to both women, but I have to say Emma was my favorite here. She didn’t let humiliation, regrets or self-pity stop her from trying to get her life back. Her plight really touched me! It made me grateful for what I have and my place in life.
Besides the story of Emma and Riley’s friendship, there are two romances, and I loved both! These romances felt true to life, and had the just the right amount of steaminess! Adam, Riley’s older brother, made a wonderful love interest for Emma; so steadfast, determined and an amazing support for Emma! Riley’s romance was a little more complicated, but I’m very pleased how it worked out.
I’m a huge fan of Robyn Carr. I’ve been working my way through her Virgin River series and I’m happy I still have several books to go. She really makes you feel for the characters, not only the main ones, but also all the secondary cast, too. Once I pick up one of her stories, I’m consumed, and time flies by! The Life She Wants made me feel a whole range of emotions, and I closed my kindle with a happy, contented sigh by the end!