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Best Intentions

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Marti Trailor—social worker on hold, mother of three, wife of a successful obstetrician, daughter of a Congressman—is ready to go back to work. She’s thrilled when the perfect opportunity falls in her lap. The catch? The job is at her husband's hospital and he seems not to share her enthusiasm. Undeterred, she takes the position counseling vulnerable young women as they prepare to give birth.

Marti quickly begins to feel like she is making a difference in the lives of her clients. Soon, though, she finds herself caught up in the dark side of the medical center—with its long hours, overworked doctors and entrenched practices. When she witnesses something she can't unsee, Marti, who has always done her best to keep a low-profile, finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight with all of Richmond, Virginia watching.

In her captivating domestic suspense novel Best Intentions, Erika Raskin weaves together high stakes hospital politics, the pressures of family life, and the consequences of trying to do the right thing.

282 pages, Hardcover

First published August 15, 2017

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About the author

Erika Raskin

5 books71 followers
Erika Raskin grew up to the sound of typewriter music. Her mother, bestselling novelist Barbara Raskin, was a rollicking story-teller who could turn mundane trips to the grocery store into readable high drama. Marcus Raskin, Erika's dad, was an author of non-fiction but still delighted in getting his daughter to make up back-stories of unsuspecting passers-by. She learned at an early age to collect details, catalog interesting behaviors, and then put them on paper.

(In short, she joined the family business.)

Erika has written essays for print and radio, articles and short stories. Her fiction has been recognized by the Reynolds Price competition, Glimmertrain, and the Virginia Commission on the Arts. She was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Erika's first novel, CLOSE, was published by Harvard Square Editions in October of 2014. CLOSE was a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards.

Erika and her husband Keith have three (grown-up) offspring and a peculiar dog with a fondness for lingerie. They live in the mountains outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 135 reviews
Profile Image for Deanna .
664 reviews12.4k followers
September 30, 2017
My reviews can also be seen at: www.deesradreadsandreviews.wordpress.com

I've read some very good domestic suspense novels lately. After reading the description for "Best Intentions", I thought it sounded like another novel that I might enjoy....and I was right!

As the book opens, Marti Trailor is wondering how she ended up where she is. All she wanted was to make a difference. She feels like she's walking on a tightrope that's swinging out of control, but if she doesn't look down, then she'll be fine. If she doesn't think of "the case" or words like, malpractice, adultery, class, race, and murder, then she won't lose complete control. As someone who hates being scrutinized by the public, it's now common to hear her name on the nightly news, or from Nancy Grace.

We are aware that something has happened...something bad. But we don't know what it is. Marti is in trouble but we don’t know why. I was anxious to find out what she had apparently done.

Marti tells us it all began the year before at an annual medical function. The "Spring Fling" was supposed to be a celebration of the start of her husband, Elliot's career as an obstetrician. Finally he was done with training. This was supposed to mean he would be more involved with their family. But as usual, her husband is late to the party. He tells her he'll meet her there, barely concealing his impatience and irritation at the fact that she is upset. Marti remembers the early days of marriage and Elliot's career. How exciting it was. But now....all of the emergencies, training, and meetings only meant that Elliot was never home and never available to her or the children.

As she waits for her husband, Marti heads to the bar where she meets Win Phillips. Win is also a social worker. He tells her about a "New Moms" program that he's going to be running at Richmond Medical (where her husband works). The program will offer counseling, job-training, among other things. Then he asks her if she’d like to help him get the program off the ground.

Who knew that this offer of employment would change Marti’s life so drastically?

This was an intriguing story-line; one that grabbed my attention from the beginning. The story alternates between past and present. I did wish that the chapters had headings as there were times I wasn’t sure which time-frame I was reading.

Reading about the aspects of social work as well as hospital politics was very interesting. Social work is obviously extremely difficult. You have so much responsibility but lack of resources. There are so many tragic stories. There were things that may never have crossed my mind. For example I know that diapers are expensive, but I didn’t really think about what that not being able to afford them could mean....

Expensive diapers = trying to use less diapers=diaper rash=baby crying= increased family stress=possible abuse

Although this is a fiction novel, things like what happens in this book do happen. It’s scary to think about. There is so much we don’t know. How easily mistakes can be made when most of the nurses and doctors are exhausted. It was interesting to read what might happen when medical mistakes are made.

“Despite good intentions there are honest mistakes. And systemic ones. And just gross incompetence.”

Marti is great at advocating for her patients but will she be able to stand up for herself when she needs too?

This was an emotional read and it deals with a lot of current issues but also had a strong story-line. This was a story of loyalty, betrayal, compassion, family and so much more. Well written, with well-developed and interesting characters, “Best Intentions was a compelling and fascinating domestic suspense novel. I’m excited to read more from Erika Raskin.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Tina.
509 reviews782 followers
April 11, 2017
I really enjoyed this one. The character of Marti was well developed and I felt her sadness, hopelessness and anger. Her thoughts and feelings just enlightened the pages. The plot caught me off guard and went in a totally different direction then what I was expecting. Really love when this happens! Great writing and a joy to read.

Thank-you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this Advanced Reader Copy.

Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
March 9, 2017
4 Stars.

A Completely Compelling Character Driven Novel.

Best Intentions by Erica Raskin is the story of Marti Trailor. A woman. A stay at home mother of three. A wife. A best friend. And a woman accused of a horrific crime.

Best Intentions is a character driven novel. A novel about Relationships. Marriage. Family. And friendships. Friendships so deep that they take hold and don’t let go. It is about a legal drama that threatens to destroy Marti Trailor’s life and shakes her to her core. Yet in my opinion, the legal drama is secondary to the story about a woman whose relationships drive this novel.

Marti Trailor has three children. Nina, Simon and Poppy. They are her life. Marti’s husband Elliot is a doctor: a very successful one at that, running the OB/GYN practice at the nearby Richmond Hospital, as well as being the head of the risk management program - thus he is never around. While at a social function, Marty gets offered the job of her dreams: helping to get a social work program up and running. Though she has taken years off to raise kids, social work is her specialty. The job? It just happens to be at the same hospital at which her husband works, which he isn’t thrilled about. Marty excels however, and get the program off to a fantastic start and forms an incredible bond with one of the young women who obtains assistance through the program: Tonya Maines. Marti even becomes Tonya’s Lamaze coach.

While things are working out well for Marti professionally, her marriage suffers. Her husband Elliot is never home and works more and more. He is moody and snappish, leading to terse moments and little arguments. Even the kids notice. Unfortunately, an incident happens on the night Tonya gives birth, leaving Tonya’s baby in a vegetative state. While the OB-GYN doctor appears to have made a grave error, things go from bad to worse and Marti is blamed and is charged for a crime.

Though the novel is about a legal battle, it is, in my opinion, a character driven novel. The author, Erika Raskin, does an excellent job at creating well rounded, multi-faceted characters. Marti Trailor, the main character drew me in immediately. Almost like glue.. I couldn’t pull away. Marti’s thoughts, and feelings, the way she interacted with her children, Nina, Simon and Poppy. Each child, so different, each interaction, so varied. So real. Her interactions with each client as a social worker – all so unique. None even remotely easy. Marti is strong when she needs to be strong and then, when things get tough? Well, she falls apart. Only to be picked up by her best friend, Colby. Who, in my mind is the most amazing best friend you could ever ask for. Fierce, funny, protective and extremely supportive. In short, Colby rocks. And Elliot - Marti's over worked husband? Self-centered, spineless and gutless. And that is a nice way of putting it. Ms. Raskin didn't give him any redeeming qualities. I would have kicked his butt to the curb in a heartbeat.

For me, the legal battle, almost took second place to the story of Marti Trailor and all of her various relationships. This, may perhaps be, because I work in the legal field and didn’t find all aspects of the case to completely realistic. I rated this novel 4 stars instead of 5, due to the structure of the chapters, and how each began by describing the status of the legal case and then went on to discuss how the rest of the story progressed, without breaking things up, which I found to be a little confusing. Further, I found that the ending and legal battle itself wrapped up a little too neatly for my liking, though all in all, I enjoyed the book immensely. Kudos to Erika Raskin for a job well done.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Erica Raskin for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 3/9/17

Will be published on Amazon on 8/15/17.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,336 followers
August 22, 2017
3+ stars. I feel like it's time to be a bit more discriminating in my book choices, especially when it comes to mysteries, thrillers and lighter reads. I'm on vacation and have been purposefully reading a few lighter books but am reminded about how hard it is to find something truly satisfying. Best Intentions sounded promising and it wasn't a dud, but it could have been much better. Marti is a social worker, and she works in the same hospital where her husband works as an obgyn. From the beginning, we know that Marti has been charged with a crime, but the plot moves back and forth in time slowly revealing the circumstances leading up to the charges, and concluding with the trial. I liked the concept and the story actually draws on interesting issues surrounding how hospitals are run, but it felt like the plot and characters were missing some substance. For example, from the beginning, we know that things are rocky between Marti and her husband but he never comes through as three dimensional character. Also, Marti's father is a senator, yet very little of the plot plays on this fact. And I could name a few more misses. Promising but not entirely satisfying. Time to move on to something more serious -- although I know I'll be back to try to find an engrossing lighter read soon. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Zoe.
1,817 reviews170 followers
August 16, 2017
Intense, ominous, and engrossing!

Best Intentions is a character-driven thriller that highlights how easily someone's behaviour can be misconstrued, manipulated, and used against them.

It is, ultimately, a story about marriage, motherhood, friendship, social work, greed, deception, adultery, medical politics, and the legal process.

The writing is well done. The characters are complex and multilayered with some being loving, supportive, and kind and others being pompous and self-centered. And the plot, although sometimes a little hard to follow as it flips from the past to the present, has a nice balance of suspense, tension, character development, and surprises.

Overall I would have to say that Best Intentions is a compelling, well-written read that once started will keep you entertained and invested to the very end.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

All my reviews can be found on my blog at http://whatsbetterthanbooks.com
Profile Image for Sarah Joint.
445 reviews984 followers
August 14, 2017
Great domestic suspense with compelling characters. My review will contain no spoilers, but I must say I spent much of the book in the dark, not knowing exactly what was going on. I enjoyed the general confusion as I read, trying to figure things out as the book bounced back and forth between timelines. If knowing the main character is in trouble but not knowing details about why until the book is more than half over would irk you, steer clear. It was making my head spin, but in a good way.

Marti is the loving mother of three children. She gave up her career as a social worker to stay home with them, but toys with the idea of returning to the workforce as her youngest child starts kindergarten. Her husband is an overworked doctor, and their relationship is very clearly suffering from his long hours away from home. He is for some reason less than thrilled when Marti is offered a job at the very same hospital he works at, but she takes it anyway. She'll be supporting young women in different capacities as they prepare to become mothers. She counsels these young ladies on decisions, helps them to find places to live with the baby if necessary, points them in the right direction to get help they desperately need, and simply supports them in general. She is a very empathetic person, extremely devoted to her work.

We're filled in on Marti's job and home life with great detail. Her kids are entertaining and interesting in their own rights, each with their own distinctive little personality. This is interspersed with a different timeline, and this one is jarring: Marti is in trouble of the legal variety. Huge trouble, the kind where she's vilified and reporters are camped out in front of her place. Either she's done something dreadfully wrong or she's in danger of spending a long time in prison as punishment for something she didn't do. We don't find out exactly what she's accused of until after the book is half over.

Family drama, relationship trouble, legal issues, and hospital politics all blend together in this whopper of a book. I didn't know which way was up sometimes, but I enjoyed the ride. I had some quibbles with the ending and would have liked the different timelines to be labeled, but I'd very much recommend giving this book a shot.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and St. Martin's Press, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,025 reviews143 followers
August 22, 2017
Marti Trailor is a beleaguered mother of three young children, struggling to hold on to any pieces of her own self as she takes care of her household and family while her husband, Elliot, works endless hours as an obstetrician. When her youngest daughter starts kindergarten, Marti, a former social worker, decides to go back to work. She gets a job, which, coincidentally happens to be in her husband's hospital--something he doesn't seem too thrilled about. Once there, Marti realizes just how overworked many of the doctors are. She also can't help but get a little too involved in the lives of her clients. It's while helping a client--and skirting that precarious line between social worker and friend--that Marti sees something horrible happen at the hospital. This event will change the course of her life forever and threaten everything she holds dear.

This was an interesting novel, to say the least. I was immediately drawn to it, as the author apparently lives in Charlottesville, my hometown. This book is set in Richmond, VA, and she certainly captures the area and the state quite well.

The book is told entirely from Marti's perspective and it takes a little while to fall into the pattern of reading, as present-tense and past-tense are presented together in the chapters without any break (at least they were in my ARC), leaving you a bit confused at first. The back and forth can be a little awkward and jarring in the beginning, though once you get used to it, it's a pretty compelling device. The novel isn't exactly exciting in a thriller-type way, but there's a fascinating element to it that keeps you reading.

There's a lot going on in this book--marital issues, a discussion on hospital policies, Marti juggling work and motherhood, investigative journalism, discussion into Richmond politics, etc. Sometimes it seems a little too much: did Marti really need to be the daughter of a Congressman, for instance?

Still, Raskin is a descriptive writer, and her prose is fairly easy to read, and again, as I mentioned, it's a hard-to-put down book. She had me from nearly the beginning, when she described one of the characters as "Tommy Lee Jones in his heyday cute." (She gets me, she really gets me, I thought!)

As the novel progresses, I found it almost Jodi Picoult-esque. There's a strong emphasis on character development, courtroom drama, and plot elements designed to make you think. Sure, the characters are drawn a bit black and white--Elliot bad, Marti good, but it works: Elliot is just so awful you cannot help but like Marti even more. Did I find the novel quite as persuasive and enjoyable as Picoult in her heyday? No. But that's pretty hard to do.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. It's descriptive, oddly compelling, and was a nice change of pace from the thrillers I've been reading lately. Definitely worth a read. I'd go with around 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4 here.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 08/15/2017.

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Profile Image for Laura Rash Wonderchick.
1,267 reviews142 followers
June 6, 2017
It's been a long time since I became so absorbed in a book that I wanted the world to be respectful & leave me alone until I finished every delicious page!
Fast-paced, with wicked one liners that had me chuckling & rereading them repeatedly.
Thanks to St. Martins Press for this early copy in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Sam (Clues and Reviews).
684 reviews159 followers
August 20, 2017
When I started reading Best Intentions, by Erika Raskin, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t heard very much about this book. Now that I have finished, I must say, this one became the surprise hit of my summer. I cannot believe more people are not talking about this book!

The way Raskin chose to narrate the novel and roll out the plot was absolute literary brilliance. The novel opens with Marti, our narrator, looking back on the events of the story. Something bad has happened. She is facing charges. Her world has been torn apart. And, at this point, the reader has no idea why. Needless to say, I was hooked. Told through a back and forth type of narration, the reader is able to see how the events played out and the repercussions. At about the 60% point is where the reader is finally privy to the events that led Marti to her situation and I was actually shocked with how things played out; I had my suspicions and I had my theories but Raskin does a phenomenal job at leaving small breadcrumbs so the reader stays in the dark.

Marti was a complex and likeable character, a social worker and mother of three; she is living the “semi-perfect” life with her OBGYN husband. When she heads back to work and starts working at her husband’s hospital, she is hesitant but eager to share her enthusiasm counseling young women as they prepare to give birth. As she gets closer to her patients and becomes involved emotionally, she finds herself caught up in the darker side of medicine and politics.

When I think domestic suspense, I usually find myself thinking of books like Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris or The Couple Next Door by Shari Lepena. I was pleased to find that Raskin chooses to weave a completely different tale under this genre; a tale that looks at the high stakes of hospital politics, court proceedings, pressures of family life and balancing career and family and also the consequences of trying to do the right thing.

I absolutely loved Best Intentions; fast paced prose, complex characters and a plot that left me thinking, I would highly recommend this book to lovers of Jodi Picoult. It is up that same alley. 5/5 stars from me!

Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,053 reviews1,375 followers
August 31, 2017

Marti, the wife of a busy, important member of the OB/GYN hospital staff decides it is time for her to go back to work as a social worker.

Marti joins a new department at the hospital that helps unwed teenage mothers.

Marti gets completely involved in the lives of these girls and leaves her children's care to her mother-in-law.

Meanwhile, Marti's husband, Eliott isn't happy she is working at the same hospital as he is. Their marriage is a bit rocky to begin with, and this seems to cause more turmoil.

BEST INTENTIONS dragged for me for most of the book even though the writing was good. There was confusion for me about where I was in the story. One minute Marti was at a party or with her kids and the next minute she was with her attorney. I never was sure if she was in jail awaiting trial or out on bail talking to her attorney.

It was interesting, though, to get a glimpse into a doctor’s life both at the hospital and at home. The insight into a social worker's life was an eye opener as well and frightening how medical mistakes could escalate into what happened in BEST INTENTIONS.

BEST INTENTIONS kept me reading because I wanted to see what the outcome of the trial would be, but I did have a lack of interest in the love affairs and other situations. The last 50 pages that covered the trial were the best part of the book.

BEST INTENTIONS had good intentions as a book, but it just wasn’t a grab you story line for me. 3/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for AnisaAnne.
115 reviews465 followers
July 18, 2017
A mother of three children. A wife of a successful husband. Marti Trailor feels like something is missing. She was a social worker in another life and want to return to this rewarding work. A chance meeting at a party leads to a job, and soon she is working along side her husband, an obstetrician at Richmond Hospital. Marti becomes involved in Tonya Maines's case, a pregnant mother whom she forges a bond. Marti becomes personally involved in Tonya's life, even being her birthing coach and godmother to the unborn child. At the delivery, something goes wrong, Marti witnesses an action and Tonya gives birth to a baby with hypoxic brain injury. A grave error by the obstetrical resident. But it is Marti who is charged and forced in the legal playground of criminal justice system.

What a great reading experience. Dramatic. Captivating. And witty. Erika Raskin weaves a clever plot in a well-written narrative that is fluid and easy to read. The book starts off with Marti meeting her lawyer for the first time. He asks her to tell him what happened from the beginning. Marti begins to recounts her story in between snippets of legal preparations. The narrative starts with a promise. "...the case that has it all. Malpractice. Adultery. Class. Race." The escalation of the story is slow but the when the tension peaks about the halfway mark, it catapults into a courtroom drama. The ending will leave you satisfied.

Best Intentions has well-developed character portrayals. The protagonist becomes more endearing as the story unfolds. We see Marti as a devoted mother, daughter of a congressman and a brilliant social worker with a focus on aiding single mothers. At times, Marti oversteps her boundaries in her job, leading to colliding roles. Her clients are unique and colorful, and Marti handles each one with grace. Marti's children, Poppy, Nina, and Sam, each have a distinct personality, and together the sibling interactions give the reader a glimpse into childhood. Nina is especially striking in the way she mothers her younger brother and sister. Elliot, the obstetrician, and husband, is self-absorbed and spends his waking moments in the hospital. Slowly into the book we gaze at a spouse who is slightly shy of abusive and repelling. The interactions between Marti and Elliot are tense, and we see a marriage fracturing apart. Marti's friend Colby, a constant source of entertainment and support, was a significant character in the novel. As a reporter, the interesting story she was working on wove seamlessly in and out of the narrative.

The legal story seemed to take a secondary role in this character driven story which was slightly disappointing. I wanted to bear witness to the medical system being tried in a courtroom, with a plethora of testimony upon expert witnesses. This medical-legal drama was a personal draw for my choosing to read this novel. But Raskin excels in describing the pulse of a University teaching hospital.

Being exposed for multiple years to obstetrics, hospital institutions, and brushes with legal upheavals, I found this novel to be extremely accurate and credible. Frequently, when an author writes about the medical profession, details are misconstrued. However, Raskin gets this right, especially the handling of the obstetrical emergency of prolapse cord. Overworked healthcare professionals and drug abuse are also undercurrents in the story. The nuances of the obstetrical side of medicine, from the job, the roles, the quandaries to the personal dispositions gives the reader a vivid gaze into the hospital.

Overall, an excellent read that held my interest until the very end. I would highly recommend Best Intentions.

Thank you, NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and the author for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Shruti Ramanujam.
227 reviews70 followers
March 16, 2017
I received this book as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

I cannot stress this enough–I LOVED this book. It drove me crazy. It’s been so long since I was this obsessed with a book. I command you to check this book out once it releases. I swear to all literary gods that you’ll like this book!

As always, let’s start with the characters. It’s all the more relevant here because of how character-driven this book is. This book’s rating is fully because of all the strong characters that are in it. They beautifully carry the story forward. I was rooting for the protagonist Marti throughout. I was even able to identify with Marti a lot! I took to calling some of my favorite lines as Marti-isms.

Because I was already in love with Marti, I reacted like all her downfalls were mine while reading this book. Like all thriller/suspense novels involving doctors, Marti and her husband have marital issues. This maybe a trope but it never gets old for me. I swear, all the medical thrillers I’ve read have turned me away from doctors forever. But, I digress. Marti’s husband Elliot is an overworked doctor who’s never around. When he is, he constantly snaps at Marti. Needless to say, I HATED him.

The world building is amazing. The story jumps between the past and the present and it beautifully merges at the 70% mark. What I really liked about the plot was how simple it was. It’s not very cerebral but it has far-reaching consequences. And Ms. Raskin ties it all up neatly. There are no plotholes, this book ends perfectly. The writing is excellent and the story is extremely fast-paced. The fast-paced nature also made me blind to negatives, if any.

To summarize, this is the best in women’s literary fiction I’ve read in a long time. If you enjoy women’s fiction and suspense, please do read this book. I assure you you’ll love it.
Profile Image for Booksandchinooks (Laurie).
678 reviews72 followers
August 19, 2017
Thank you to St Martins Press for a free copy of this book for an honest review. I loved this book. The characters are well written so you have a great understanding of them. Marti is a social worker, a mom, and a wife. Her marriage has been slowly falling apart for quite some time from her doctor husband, Elliot. Marti has just returned to work as her youngest child heads to kindergarten. Marti works with pregnant unwed moms through a program run at the same hospital where her husband works. She gets very involved with one of the moms in her program and has agreed to be her labour coach. Marti has also just realized that her husband is having an affair and that her marriage is definitely over. As Tonya, the young mom, goes into labour and delivers her baby their is a catastrophic event and the baby is in a vegetative state with no hope of ever being able to live without being hooked up to various machines. The baby dies and there are many legal ramifications that affect Marti. This book is very suspenseful. It is also worth mentioning that this takes place in Richmond, Virginia and in light of things in the past week there are some moments interspersed in here that make you think it was written today. I definitely recommend this book especially if you like suspense because the style of writing the author has used definitely makes you want to keep reading.
Profile Image for Kayo.
2,382 reviews30 followers
February 27, 2017
What an awesome book. I'm still reeling with what happened. The characters were real and had depth, making the story you would find in any news headline. I truly didn't want the book to end, it was THAT good.
I received this book thru Netgalley, but that had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Profile Image for Ema.
1,260 reviews34 followers
April 4, 2017
So this book took me quite a while to get into, but then stopped me from sleeping all night because I was so stressed about what would happen...
This story is fabulous because Marti is a mother first and foremost and the love that she feels for her three kids is so passionate and so real that I was feeling incredibly protective of each of them. I also love the way she navigates the work place and the people she interacts with there as well as how she maintains relationships with close friends, with her family, and with her in-laws--the latter more challenging than the others.
I loved the trial, also. I guess though I've recently been devouring everything suspense, I've never read anything set in an actual court with a trial going on. I found the back and forth between the witnesses and the prosecutor/defender to be snappy and witty and I could very much envision it all coming together.
The entire political situation and the dynamics of the workplace were legitimately fascinating and probably raise some real world issues. I'll be passing this one on to my mum, who works as a nurse, to see what she thinks, but I was appalled by the situation and how overworked residents were. The family dynamics also stunk and I loved reading about them and seeing how they evolved.
It did take me a good third of the book to really start caring about anyone and to get invested. The ending felt a little sudden and I had to reread a bit to make sure I hadn't missed something. The middle, however, had me reading quickly and on the edge of my bed with my need to know what would happen. Sometimes the way that the flashforwards worked were also a little bit confusing, but common sense solved this.
If you're interested in nursing, social work, or court, or just enjoy good suspense novels, this will be right up your alley.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Debbie.
1,751 reviews95 followers
August 17, 2017
This was a very entertaining read for me. I really liked the main character, Marti, a loving mother of three and a wife of a resident doctor, who has just recently returned to work as a social worker. The "demands" of her husband in his job as a resident usually leaves her holding the bag and doing EVERYTHING regarding the household and the kids. Marti is a very likable character and I really enjoyed meeting her. She has the biggest heart and is constantly trying to overcome her frustration with things at her home between herself and her husband.

When Marti is accused of a horrific crime, I was a little confused. It was introduced in the ARC (I know this may change in the edited version) suddenly and out of nowhere. It kind of through me off to begin with, but after rereading that part, I realized that I didn't miss anything. It was just thrown in. I only add this to my review because it slowed me down in my reading. Other than that, I flew through this book. After the arrest of Marti, I felt so sorry for her and angry, angry, angry.

I love it when authors get my emotions in an uproar and mine were certainly riled while reading this book. I guessed the husband's secret very early in the book and that also flicked on an emotion switch for me. Yay!!

An excellent read with great characters, character development and writing.

Thanks to St. Martins Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
154 reviews4 followers
May 29, 2017
More reviews like this one are available on my blog:

Marti is mother to three children and wife to a doctor but she is tired of being just the doctor's wife and often wishes she could use her social work training to help others. A chance encounter leads to a job in the hospital where her husband works but Marti soon becomes too involved in the lives of her clients and is asked to be at the delivery of one of her client's babies. When something goes wrong during the delivery, Marti finds herself accused of murder but there may be something more sinister going on at the hospital.

The beginning of the book was a bit slow but towards the middle of the book, it started to get really interesting. The book touches on some really important issues. In the hospital where Marti works, doctors are routinely asked to work so many hours that they are overtired and can't work. While extending the hours of physicians is often necessary in order to meet the demands of patients and can contribute to more opportunities for learning for the resident doctors, doctors who are too tired to work can turn to drugs to stay awake or make poor decisions because they are tired. This puts their lives and the lives of their patients in danger. The story was really interesting and the ending was quite surprising.

The character of Marti was a bit of a cliche. She is the bleeding heart that wants to be seen as looking out for everyone but really takes a patronizing attitude with those she is tasked to help. At one point, Marti is accused of being patronizing and thinking that she knows more than the rest of society and, I have to say, I have to agree with the assessment. Knowing more than others and guiding their decision making may be required in the social work profession, at times, but Marti takes it to the extreme when she takes a too familiar role with her clients and makes decisions that they later regret. She makes a habit of criticizing the very wealthy, connected group of which she is a part of. That her connections and luck got her where she is, too, is an idea that is completely lost on her. On top of this, several comments were made that seem to unfairly stereotype southern culture and many of those stereotypes are plainly untrue and offensive. In addition, while Virginia is technically south of the Mason-Dixon line, Virginia is not quite as rooted in southern culture as the author makes it out to be. I wish that a more accurate picture Richmond were represented and, it would have been nice to incorporate some of the landmarks. While I am not from Richmond, I grew up in Northern Virginia and, therefore, have some concept of the area. I have never heard of a "Rides and Park" and a more popular theme park in the area would probably be the nearby "King's Dominion". This book references a rich, out of touch, culturally insensitive community in Richmond; a Virginia which I was never familiar with in my entire childhood and young adult life. I am not suggesting that it doesn't exist but I am suggesting that the area may not have been as accurately described as resident would have liked it to be portrayed to the world. A book that seems to be so obsessed with a group of people from a particular area could have referenced just a few landmarks, at least.

While I didn't think Marti's character was realistic enough and wish that Virginia was better and more respectfully represented in the book, I still did enjoy the story. There were several parts that threw me for a loop and I had no idea that it was coming. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys women's fiction or someone who likes courtroom dramas that also have a family element.

Thank you to Goodreads and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Profile Image for Jenee Rager.
808 reviews7 followers
February 20, 2017
This was a pretty good book. Marti Trailor is a social worker, turned stay-at-home mom who finds herself returning to the workplace. As the daughter of a Senator, and the wife of a doctor (who may or may not resent her working at the same hospital as him, Marti has always been surrounded by powerful men, and in my opinion tends to let them run the show for her.

After returning to work, Marti is accused of murder. Each chapter starts off with a brief paragraph or two about the trial preparations and then skips back in time to how things got to where they were. There never is much doubt in the readers mind as to whether or not Marti is innocent, but they is doubt as to whether or not it can be proved, and who actually committed the murder.

The thing that kept me from loving this book was Marti's meekness, especially in regards to her husband. Other than being the father of her children (whom he also neglected) I couldn't find one redeeming quality about him.
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,813 reviews474 followers
August 7, 2017

The best thing about Best Intentions is that the author doesn't give us too much too soon. From the beginning, you know the main character is accused of something. You just don't know what.

Marti Trailor is a social worker who is a stay at home mom. She has three children whom she loves dearly and she's married to Elliot who's an obstetrician. But lately, Marti has been feeling restless. When she meets Win Phillips during a social gathering and he offers her a job, she can't contain her enthusiasm. She's ready to go back to work and help people. One drawback, her new position will take her closer to her husband's professional life and he is not crazy about the idea.

Marti finds herself quite busy with her new job and she develops a special bond with one of the girls she's helping. Tonya Maine is an eighteen-year-old girl who's pregnant but the father of her baby doesn't want to be involved. Marty becomes her support system. She helps her find a place to live and later becomes her Lamaze partner.

These long hours at work, her friendship with Win, her personal interest in Tonya leads to constant disagreements with Elliot. Not that he's not to blame. He's always too busy to help with the children, take his wife out or simply spend time at home. Marti knows her marriage is on the rocks, Elliot might be cheating and when something awful happens, her freedom is at stake.

Best Intentions had characters I liked and disliked. Colby, Marti's best friend was priceless. She was supportive, funny and had her own story to tell. I love Marti's brothers too. They were there for Marti in her time of need. It was too easy to hate Elliot. He was selfish and egotistical. The word worthless comes to mind. Win, I wish he had more character development but from was I saw, I liked.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel, although, I have to say that I felt like the "discovery" was too easy and gratuitous. I would've preferred a different approach to the ending. Perhaps something less tidy.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Leah.
1,052 reviews58 followers
August 15, 2017
Best Intentions is a roller coaster of a novel and such a fun, wildly intense ride. I love it when books make me think and there were some seriously thought-provoking ethical dilemmas here. This was such an emotional, compelling read that I tore through in a single sitting and have no problem recommending! I'm VERY excited to see what Erika does next!

For the full review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby!
Profile Image for Cheryl Bellingham.
293 reviews4 followers
March 9, 2017
I fancied something a bit different and this nicely hit the mark. Thoroughly engaging. It's about events leading up to an incident and the repercussions afterwards. Where do loyalties lie when the chips fall.
Profile Image for Judi Easley.
1,395 reviews47 followers
June 8, 2017
First response: I read this in one sitting it's so good! Great characters and a wonderful story. Full review on my blog after the 20th...

My Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book by NetGalley and St. Martin's Press. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:
What a fantastic story! Here's this woman who just wants to give and help others and she's stymied at almost every turn by her husband, then the hospital she works for, and eventually the legal system.

Marti has done everything that was expected of her. She's done the work of raising three great kids. Daddy is a Congressman. Hubby is a Doctor. Now she wants some of her own. She's a trained social worker. The perfect job pops up and she goes for it. Hubby isn't happy because she's going to be underfoot at the hospital. What's he got to hide? What isn't she supposed to see at the hospital?

She takes the job, but she keeps trying to help a gal who doesn't want her help and that gets her into trouble, too. Then there's another young woman who needs and wants her help, but she's getting other advice as well and things go horribly wrong. Two young lives are horribly damaged before they even have a chance and Marti knows the truth behind what happened, but is she going to get the opportunity to tell her story?

Once the story all comes out, who will pay the price? And who will go to jail? This fantastic book is due out August 15, 2017, from St. Martin's Press. Get yourself a copy of it and plan on spending a weekend with it. It's fabulous! For those who cheer for the underdogs! With a touch of sweet romance!
367 reviews4 followers
February 11, 2017
I won this book from Goodreads. It is another winner. I enjoyed the book a lot. The story is about a woman who is a wife and mother who decides to go back to work, as a social worker at her husband's place of employment. There are undercurrents that she misunderstands and others that she understands too well. Someone sabotages her, but who? The suspense builds to a crescendo, as her life becomes more and more complicated and she is wrongly accused on a heinous crime.
Profile Image for booksofallkinds.
1,013 reviews157 followers
August 15, 2017
**RATING 4.5**

BEST INTENTIONS by Erika Ruskin is a clever, detailed, and intricate story brimming with drama and characters that will get under your skin.

Marti Trailor has the perfect life, married to a successful obstetrician with three beautiful children that she absolutely adores. Deciding to return to work she finds herself working alongside her husband at his hospital which isn't the best scenario, but Marti throws herself fully into her new clients and really enjoys the challenge. But when a delivery goes wrong, Marti finds herself charged for a crime that she vehemently denies, and so the story unfolds as she tells us her version of events.

BEST INTENTIONS by Erika Ruskin is character driven and when we read Marti's account we can feel the anger, frustration, and sadness oozing from her out of the page. With plenty of medical and legal elements in this novel, it is obvious that the author has spent a lot of time on her research.

​With plenty of unexpected twists and turns, BEST INTENTIONS by Erika Ruskin took me by surprise throughout and I became invested in this story which is always a sign of a great book. If you like a dramatic story with a medical bent then definitely give this one a try.

*I voluntarily reviewed this book from Netgalley.com
Profile Image for Jo-Ann.
47 reviews
March 28, 2017
I would like to thank Erika Raskin and Net Galley for allowing me to read this book.

This book is about a woman wrongfully accused of murder. The story has quite a few twists which will surprise you. The book starts with Marti talking to her lawyer and then takes you through how Marti got where she is now before you finally have the whole story. Marti is a stay at home mom while her husband Elliot works crazy hours as he has just started his career in OB/GYN. They have 3 children, Nina, Simon and Poppy. Marti hopes that the long hours will become less so that they can become a family again. Her best friend is Colby who is a print journalist. Things get a little weird after Marti decides to go back to work as a social worker in the same hospital as her husband, he isn't too thrilled about it and you can almost suspect why. There is a New Mom's program that she was hired for by Win who met her at a hospital function. It is an experimental program and he asks Marti to come and work with him. Nigel is the head of the department and his work ethics are not the best. His team is overworked which leads to mistakes and Marti is not very fond of him. She challenges his judgment anytime she can and in the end, she triumphs.
67 reviews2 followers
November 4, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. I love anything in a hospital surrounding and having worked in one - believe me, these things do happen. It was one of those "can't put it down" books and after you finish it, you still think about some of the characters and wonder what path their lives took. Of course there were the characters that you would just like to pinch their heads off for their actions, but that's what makes it a good book. Would definitely recommend this book for a good read!
Profile Image for Meggy Chocolate'n'Waffles.
516 reviews97 followers
August 12, 2017

I'm going to rename this book The Best Surprise of this Summer. Oh my God, why did it stay this long on my NetGalley shelf??? (Probably because I had too many to read, and still do... :p)

Marti Trailor has a great life. Wife of an obstetrician, mother of three, and newly back on the job market as a social worker. Marti is not only the kind of woman you look and think “She has it all”, she is funny, kind, and trying to do her best. You can feel it form her actions, her thoughts, it's written all over her. No, she is not perfect, and the appearances are not always to be believed, we all know that. But Marti does her best with what she has.

Now, why was I on her side from the first page? Why did I read this book in one sitting? Why was it impossible for me to tear myself away from the story? Because the author brilliantly uses the dual past/present narration in the voice of Marti, offering us two sides of the same woman. A before, and an after. Only you have no idea what was the event breaking her life in two parts, and what led her to where she is now.

There's something fabulously enticing in the writing, Erika Raskin talks to all women through her main character and plays with the idea the worst can happen to the best people, just because. Isn't this scary? Truth be told, Best Intentions is one of the most terrifying stories I have read. There is no blood, per se (now you're wondering), there is no serial killers, cockroaches, apocalypse. No. Just a woman trying to help. Helping turns out to be her downfall.

"Are all people who take medication for anxiety murderers?"

We all want to help, we give a hand when a friend needs it, we lend our lawnmower, we buy a sandwich for the homeless guy at the corner of the street. I like to think of the best in each human being. But what if by trying to save someone, you drive yourself to hell?

The past slowly unfolds, revealing hints and bits that add up to create a giant explosion, making me shake my head in disbelief, turning me into an angry woman so wishing to jump into the pages to help another woman in need. I devoured those parts by looking closely at each little piece of information, knowing something was about to happen but hoping it actually wouldn't! I can't explain why I cared so much for Marti. Maybe because I dare think there are people who care enough to go as far as she does to make things better for others. I admired Marti and when the world came crashing down, in hours, page after page, my heart break and I felt helpless and so tense I thought I was in a nightmare I was gonna wake up from!

The plot is so taut that there is no escape, especially when things are also personal. Because Marti's husband is, like all doctors, always busy, always putting more hours, always away. This part of domestic issues captivated me as I felt this was something I knew about but it was a totally different experience to live it along with Marti, who had always been in the shadow of her husband. Until now. The author made things so real I was absolutely immersed in this tailspin and trying to make sense of everything. The characterization is amazingly well-crafted so there's always a doubt, always a little niggle at the back of your mind, always a little something to say “It's not right.” And like all people wearing their heart on their sleeve and putting their everything into what they do, Marti can't take it. Except she has everything to lose.

After twelve years of marriage, what was said was a lot less important than how it was said.

The last part was definitely my favorite. I can't say why so you'll have to believe me when I say this is a must-read. Because on top of the past/present narration, the thick plot, the helpless innocent being accused, there's a final act that brings everything together in an explosive way. A denouement the former law student in me loved to see unfold, an ending that won't release the tension until the very last drops of hope has been drained from your body.

If you are looking for one of the best stories of the summer, look no further! Best Intentions reminds us we are not safe from seeing our lives turned upside down just because we want to do the right thing. Erika Ruskin puts her main character into a position we all could find ourselves in, nailing a merciless and intense plot that leaves you wondering what YOU would do!

This review is my thank you to St Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Profile Image for Shelli.
360 reviews76 followers
October 12, 2017
Lately I've read a lot of "thrillers", which I'm starting to realize generally means frequent wild, careening plot surprises, with shocking twist endings. And while I've really enjoyed those kinds of books – don't get me wrong – Best Intentions was a different kind of novel – more suspense, mystery, and courtroom drama than thriller per se. Our heroine, Marti Trailor, clearly and candidly lays out her predicament right from the opening prologue: she's been accused of murder, and she's about to stand trial.

Marti is vivacious, believably emotional, strong but not excessively so at the outset, and very likable, but every character – likable or not – is also very well-defined and fleshed out, even right down to Marti's three young (pre-middle school) children. The writing is accessible and smooth; I never noticed a single choppy or awkward sentence take me out of the story. I'm afraid that I don't know much about working in a hospital (the main setting besides Marti's family's home), or the field of social work (Marti's profession), but it certainly feels authentic and well-researched. Remarkably, author Erika Raskin manages to weave in a cornucopia of subplots and themes without muddying the narrative or making the plot too busy – including infidelity, divorce, race, class, poverty, power, sibling and parental relationships, true friendship, professional politics, the criminal justice system, and finally, the many opportunities and ways there are to start over – along with the foundational issues of marriage dynamics (and how work demands vs. expectations affect them), moral and ethical quandaries, and maintaining the integrity of one's personal and professional boundaries.

Throughout the book, the characters evolve and adapt as as one would expect, the dialog is of that idealistically realistic variety that is such a pleasure to read, and it's perfectly paced, without feeling dull or rushed in any parts. Right from the beginning, Marti backs up and begins telling us, in brief flashbacks, about the sequence of events that culminated in the current state of affairs described in the prologue, when all the proverbial shit has hit the fan. Marti's flashbacks become more and more frequent, until around the book's midpoint when we catch up to the timeframe of the prologue, and thereafter move forward in "real" time. Since the readers' understanding of the nature of the crime for which Marti is being tried doesn't happen until halfway through the book – before then, we don't even know who it is that was murdered – it may sound alarming that there is so much setup or background before we get to the heart, or "meat" of the drama. But that's not at all how it feels; the events that came before the crime are, in their way, just as cataclysmic as any single moment. Raskin skillfully builds tension and a sense of nervous apprehension in her reader; rather than being constantly shocked with new twists and turns, we are brought to a slow boil of suspense and apprehension, arriving at full comprehension of the truth not through literary gymnastics, but through observation, investigation, and intelligence, just as Marti also had to, while still being somewhat taken along for a ride by forces unseen.

3.5 stars.

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book at no cost courtesy of the publisher, St. Martin's Press, via Goodreads Giveaway.
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