book cover



What is the nature of love? What would an individual do for her art? And what betrayal could transform a person into someone no longer invisible? Someone who could finally and truly live?

In the opening lines of The Woman Upstairs, our protagonist and first person narrator, Nora Eldridge, is expressing her rage. And as she lashes out, she lists all of the traits that make her a good person: she is a good teacher, a daughter who held her dying mother’s hand, a daughter who speaks to her father every day.

She is now a woman looking back at a time in her life. A time that consumed more of her than imaginable, and almost turned her permanently into the woman outside the main action. Someone who is looking on while others succeed; someone who draws her primary sustenance from the crumbs of another family’s table.

The Year of the Shahids was that time for Nora, when she became obsessed with each of them, starting with the son, Reza, a student in her third grade class in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, an artist, and someone Nora would like to emulate, is Sirena: beautiful, talented, and with the ability to draw Nora into her web. Yes, to me, looking on, it feels like a web. But maybe that is just my perception. It does not seem to be Nora’s view. She falls a little bit in love with the husband/father, too: Skandara, a charming intellectual.

She ends up sharing an artist’s studio with Sirena, and becoming a part of the family. Almost. There are times when she sinks into her invisibility again, dependent on the crumbs from their table.

A fascinating tale, one in which we see what happens to Nora during that obsessive year; we watch her afterwards, how she keeps tabs on them after they have returned to Paris, via Google alerts; and then there are the following years when she goes to Paris and sees the famous installation of Wonderland…and is stunned by a finding that will finally unleash her rage.

A truly captivating read that reveals several unlikeable and self-absorbed characters, and even the protagonist is someone you might want to warn about how things will truly play out in the end. But, like most people, she had to learn her own lessons and come to her own realizations. 4.5 stars.


915Xy8yqUhL._SL1500_As I entered the world of writer/house-sitter Lila Emerson, I felt as though I were there, seeing the world through her eyes. She shares her surroundings through great visual descriptions, and her inner thoughts accompany us on our tour.

And she literally views the world around her through binoculars, by gazing at the windows in neighboring apartment buildings.

Her latest “job” is in a luxury apartment in New York, and just as I was getting cozy with Lila and her world as shown to the reader, she witnessed a murder in a very frightening way.

Drawn into the intrigue, after talking to the police, she accidentally meets Ashton Archer, an artist, and the brother of one of the victims. He is gorgeous, of course, and the chemistry between the two is immediate. Luckily, they are connected to some of the same people, so she isn’t nervous about getting to know him better. His wealth and resources help move them along toward their goals.

The Collector is a page-turning suspense story that leads the characters through the twisted world of a very dangerous group of people, and as we try to anticipate what will happen next, we are surprised again and again. Ash and Lila meet with people who help them discover who is behind the killings, and they already have met the hired assassin on a few occasions. At the heart of it all is a fabulous art find that is driving the criminals to take everything to the highest level. Who will win in this dangerous escapade, and what must Ash and Lila do to end the game? A somewhat predictable, yet enticing read. 4.0 stars.






At the center of The Girl You Left Behind, is a painting. Created by a Paris artist named Edouard Lefevre of his wife Sophie, we first become aware of it when Sophie’s tale begins, during the WWI German Occupation in France.

The German Kommandant is drawn to the painting when he first sees it in the cafe and bar run by Sophie’s family, where he has ordered Sophie and her sister to prepare meals for the German army. Sometimes, the Kommandant allows them to have the leftovers, and occasionally talks to Sophie as if they are just two people, not enemy and captive.

His obsession for the painting, therefore, leads to a daring attempt on Sophie’s part to reunite with her husband.

Almost 100 years later, in London, a woman named Liv Halston is trying to recover after the death of her husband David four years before. While out one evening, she happens to meet a man named Paul, who coincidentally works for a company with the mission of recovering stolen art for families. She does not know this, however, until awhile later. The discovery leads to a falling out between them, as they line up on opposing sides in this battle over the art.

How will the painting’s rightful ownership be determined? What will happen to the newly developing relationship between Paul and Liv? Who is the plaintiff in the case, and is his arrogance a key factor in finding out the truth? What does Liv discover on a special journey to France? And what secrets about Sophie’s fate will come out?

A story about love, art, family, and how sometimes you simply must fight for all of these things, because otherwise, a piece of your heart might be lost along the way. I loved this book!

The author does an excellent job of reeling the reader into the story, whether it’s the world set in the early 1900s, or the contemporary world. I felt as though I were walking amongst them, absorbed in their drama and facing their challenges with them. The settings, the characters, and the themes were captivating. And I loved how the secrets unfolded in layers, until the final denouement. Fans of this author, and those who enjoy stories about these themes, will love this book. Five stars.