Title: The House Guests by Emilie Richards
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Two women. Two families. Two lifetimes’ worth of secrets.
In the wake of her husband’s sudden death, Cassie Costas finds her relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unraveling. After their move to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida, Savannah hates her new town, her school and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie has enough to contend with as she searches for answers about the man she shared a life with, including why all their savings have disappeared.
When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie empathizes with the woman’s predicament and invites the strangers to move in. As their lives intertwine, Cassie realizes that Amber is hiding something. She’s evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her.
The House Guests by Emilie Richards is a multi-layered novel about family, friendship and new beginnings.
Cassie Costas and fifteen-year-old daughter of her heart Savannah have recently relocated to Tarpon Springs, FL from New York. Following the devastating loss of husband and dad Mark Westmoreland, Cassie and Savannah’s once close relationship is going through a very rough spot. Savannah is resentful, hurt and angry and refuses to talk to her stepmother. Cassie is trying to understand what was bothering Mark in the months leading up to his death. She is also trying to understand her new financial situation. With the assistance of her beloved Aunt Roxanne and the rest of their family, Cassie hopes to make a new life for her and Savannah.
Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son Will have fallen on tough times in the past, but their current situation is very unexpected. Cassie’s recent illness coupled with lack of income have left them in dire straits. Amber is grateful for Will’s understanding as they find themselves unexpectedly homeless. She wants to do the best she can for Will but begins to wonder if it might be time for them to move on.
Once Cassie discovers exactly how badly Savannah’s latest rebellion has hurt Amber, she is determined to make it up to her and her son. Despite Amber’s reservations, she agrees to Cassie’s invitation to move in with her and Savannah. While they tiptoe around one another at first, Cassie and Amber become very close friends. And much to Cassie’s relief, Savannah has settled into her new school and becomes friends with Will and two other girls. While Savannah’s hostility toward her has dimmed a bit, their relationship is still quite strained.
Cassie wants answers to questions about a few things that happened before Mark died. She hopes to finally get explanations for the sudden changes in his behavior and his inexplicable decisions. Cassie also continues trying to repair her relationship with Savannah but will she lose patience following her stepdaughter’s latest misstep?
Amber has lived her life looking over her shoulder for so many years she cannot imagine living without fear. She has managed to prevent Will from delving too deeply into the past, but she knows a day of reckoning is inching near. Amber is uncertain about living with Cassie and Savannah, but she knows it is the right choice for now. As she continues shielding Will from the past, is Cassie underestimating his desire for the truth?
The House Guests is an emotionally compelling novel with a hint mystery and a dash of intrigue. Cassie and Amber are vibrantly developed women with relatable strengths and all too human foibles. Will and Savannah are typical teenagers who believe they are more mature than they are. Trouble ensues as they make well-intentioned but ill-advised decisions that do not always work out as planned. The two story arcs are well-written and perfectly illustrate the consequences of keeping secrets. With interesting twists and unanticipated turns, Emilie Richards brings this captivating novel to a realistic conclusion.