Kristy's Reviews > Only Ever Her

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
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bookshelves: ebook, netgalley, arc, fiction, lake-union, women-s-fiction, read-in-2019

Annie Taft is 26, ready to marry Scott Hanson, and move somewhere fresh. Away from the town of Ludlow, where she is known as the daughter of the murdered woman. Cordell Lewis was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Annie's mother, Lydia Taft--largely on the word of Annie, who was only three. But his lawyer is advocating for a new trial--and Cordell's release. It's now four days before Annie's wedding; Cordell is out of jail, and Annie has disappeared. At first, Annie's aunt, Faye, who has raised her niece since the age of three, thinks she has hidden away due to nerves. But as the wedding date inches closer, Faye and her daughter, Clary, realize something is amiss. Was it Cordell, seeking revenge after all this time? Or someone who knows Annie well?

"Some people hear their mother's voices in their heads, but Annie hears her aunt's, the closest thing she has to a mother."

This book wasn't anything like what I was expecting, and honestly, it was a rather strange tale, but it was still rather interesting. It's a character-driven read, not a suspense novel, but wow, I got really attached to some of these characters. I picked this one up based solely on the strength of the last Marybeth Mayhew Whalen novel I read, WHEN WE WERE WORTHY. She has a real knack for capturing her characters: they jump off they page and stick with you. In particular, I fell hard for Faye and Clary in this one. And, of course, there was Annie, who was always there, motivating nearly every character:

"She has to make the town happy, like she always has. It is her act of service, her offering on behalf of the greater good. When you're the only survivor of the town's darkest moment, you do whatever you can to bring light."

There are a lot of narrators in the novel, but together they expertly show the web and ties of a small town, where it seems everyone has a secret of some sorts. I thought the beginning of the book was a bit slow, but it picked up in the second half, becoming rather dramatic and suspenseful. It's also an emotional read, as you become more and more invested in the characters. I expected more with Annie's storyline and disappearance--the ending sort of fizzled there for me. The more compelling piece is truly her mother's murder and its aftermath, especially on Faye.

Still, this was an interesting and poignant read featuring some excellent characters. While it was a bit slow to start, I found myself quite immersed in the second half. I really enjoy what Whalen can do with her small town personalities. 3.5 stars.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley; it is available everyone as of 05/07/2019.

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Reading Progress

April 6, 2019 – Shelved
April 6, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
April 17, 2019 – Started Reading
April 18, 2019 – Shelved as: ebook
April 18, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
April 20, 2019 – Finished Reading
April 30, 2019 – Shelved as: arc
April 30, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction
April 30, 2019 – Shelved as: lake-union
April 30, 2019 – Shelved as: women-s-fiction
April 30, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019

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