EXCERPT: ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’ Flynn slapped her hand away. ‘I think they mixed us all up as babies. I should have been born the preacher’s son, and you should have been the daughter of the greatest smart-ass in Texas.’
‘That’s pretty much what my daddy told me this very morning. You wouldn’t have lasted overnight in the house I grew up in.’ Nessa went back to the stove and browned some more toast in the big cast-iron skillet.
‘As bossy as you are Nessa, and as smug as you are Flynn, y’all would have wilted and died if you’d grown up here,’ April said. ‘Nanny Lucy was a wonderful lady, but she could put a guilt trip on a person that went all the way to the bottom of the soul, and believe me when I tell you that she knew very well how to wield a switch. Ten licks was the minimum.’
‘Are you serious?’ Nessa was stunned.
‘Y’all knew her as a sweet nanny for two weeks. Somehow you being here was when she had good days,’ April answered. ‘But I was the bastard offspring of the daughter who had disappointed her and then died four days after I was born. At least once a day, and more in the days after y’all left and went back home, she reminded me that I had my mother’s genes, and I knew that was a bad thing by her tone. It didn’t seem to matter if she was having a good or a bad day. I was always a thorn in her side.’
Nessa could well understand what April was saying. Looking back, she’d always felt like one of those thorns for her father. ‘I guess that’s where my daddy got his ability to make me feel guilty about even the air I breathe.’ Nessa talked as she cooked breakfast. ‘He could put a guilt trip on Jesus, and he practiced on me almost daily.’
Both women glanced over at Flynn.
‘Hey, my dad was always too busy either chasing women, marrying them then chasing women, or getting divorced because his wife caught him chasing women to ever even talk to me.’ Flynn shrugged. ‘I was just a bratty kid that he didn’t want to raise but had to when my mama died. I did pretty much what I wanted from the time I went to live with him – no questions asked except on payday, when he held out his hand for half of what I made to pay for my room and board in his house.’
‘We should call that childhood the O’Reilly curse.’
ABOUT ‘THE HOPE CHEST’: An inheritance has reunited three estranged cousins. Their grandmother Lucy left Nessa, Flynn, and April her home nestled in the woods near Blossom, Texas, as well as a hope chest to be unlocked after they complete a special task. Together, they must hand-stitch a cherished quilt Lucy left unfinished. It meant everything to her. And now, to three people struggling with their own patchwork pasts…
To Nessa, the house has always been an escape from her strict parents—a home away from home. Flynn has followed a profligate path into adulthood, never guessing it would lead him here. And the town of Blossom only stirs up a lifetime of disappointments for April. Lost and with nowhere to go, her last chance is helping fulfill Nanny Lucy’s final wish.
Thread by healing thread, Nessa, Flynn, and April bond over the quilt and all it represents. As they discover the family they’ve been looking for in one another, they share more than memories. They share the hope of new beginnings.
MY THOUGHTS: The Hope Chest is a warm and comforting read. Carolyn Brown writes wonderful characters, interesting characters that have the reader firmly in their camp, rooting for the best possible outcome for them.
Nessa, Flynn, and April have all had terrible childhoods and have each reacted in different ways, but ways that have brought them no happiness. Flung together by fate in the form of Nanny Lucy’s last will and testament, they are initially resentful and wary of one another. The Hope Chest charts their journey through repairing both their childhood relationships with one another, and their damaged self image.
Although described as a romance, The Hope Chest is so much more. There is mystery surrounding Nanny Lucy’s past, and a heartwarming thread involving the rebuilding of family relationships, and forgiveness. Brown also touches on mental illness in the forms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the damage caused when it goes undiagnosed.
I have loved everything I have read by this author, and The Hope Chest is no exception.
I: @carolynbrownbooks #montlake
T: @thecarolynbrown #Montlake
#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #mystery #romance
THE AUTHOR: Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!
Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.
I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.
I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list.
Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Hope Chest by Carolyn Brown for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com