Love You Hate You Miss You – This stark, first person POV novel about Amy, a problem drinker, is more on Elizabeth’s Scott “rip out your spleen” side of the spectrum than her lighter funny, charming, coming of age tales. The reader meets Amy as she finishes a stint in rehab, still reeling from the drunk driving crash that killed her best friend, the impulsive, wild and wonderful Julia. Throughout the course of the novel, I found myself wondering if Amy was a reliable narrator, if the Julia she saw was the Julia who really existed, and whether her downward spiral was actually enabled by this friend who seemed so much more alive than she is. I tend to think those are questions that Scott puts out there on purpose, and that the emotional journey we see Amy take is about answering them. Like many of Scott’s other books, Amy’s parents’ absenteeism is a huge element, but unlike her other books, it’s something faced head on, and we see the parents actually trying to change…and also showing us that how Amy views them may not be correct. In fact, there’s a key conversation they have with Amy near the end that made me cry. This 2009 release is painful and human and a wonderful read.
A Woman Scorned – I picked up Liz Carlyle’s 2000 novel A Woman Scorned because it’s one of the precursors to this year’s release, Wicked All Day. I so enjoyed Jonet and Cole as Stuart and Robin’s parents that I wanted to see how they met and fell in love. A Woman Scorned did not disappoint! When former soldier and divinity scholar Cole Amherst is dispatched by a suspicious relative to tutor Lady Jonet Rowland’s children, it’s hate at first sight! Though an attraction is immediate as well, newly widowed Jonet doesn’t trust a soul and Cole is put off by her sharp tongue and dismissive manner. A Woman Scorned follows them as they learn to live with each other, trust one another, and discover who killed Jonet’s husband and why. Jonet is every inch her own woman and as their relationship progresses, Cole makes noises to the effect of wanting to tame her and curb her willfullness, but you get the sense as a reader that it’s definitely Jonet who has the upper hand, all the way to the end.