Incidental Daughter - Val Stasik
When successful publisher Liz Michaels’ marriage to blue blood, Addison Tiffin Payne, fails after the loss of their baby and his growing alcoholism, she pours all her creative energy and passion into her work and finds comfort in her friendship with the co-owners of her company as well as the appearances of the spirits of her Polish mother and grandmother, who never speak except in dreams she cannot remember. Only her feelings from those dreams linger.
When Liz’s ex-husband plans to stage her suicide by pushing her off the balcony of her high-rise home in order to collect on a life insurance policy, he topples to his death instead. When the police arrive, Liz, the potential victim, becomes the prime murder suspect. She meets Pittsburgh Police Detective Jim Shannon, who may threaten her freedom or possibly gain her love. Her life is further complicated by her former mother-in-law’s attempts to destroy her reputation and damage her career. Her swirling feelings are complicated by the simultaneous appearance of a talented, familiar-looking intern at her workplace. He turns out to be her half-brother, but he is unaware of their connection. Although Liz is finished with a past that included a botched meeting with her biological father, the past is not done with her, for the intern and Shannon link her to that past. The cause of her ex-husband’s death is determined and Shannon and his partner, Santello, arrest the person responsible for what led to his death.
Internal conflict is soon compounded by external threats created by her former mother-in-law as well as someone seeking revenge on Shannon and his fellow detective. Just as Shannon and Liz are getting better acquainted, he is gunned downed, but survives. When Liz is leaving Shannon’s hospital room, she passes a woman whom she doesn’t realize is her dead father’s wife. The woman, Eileen, is also Shannon’s sister and notices the resemblance to her dead husband. Eileen did not learn of the existence of her husband’s daughter until after his death. This encounter sets in motion a series of touchy revelations and family get-togethers. All seems to be going well until Payne’s grieving mother decides to make Liz pay for Payne’s death. Warned by the mother’s housekeeper, Detective Santello and another detective rush to Liz’s office. In the shootout, Payne’s mother is killed but not before killing Santello who took the bullet meant for Liz. Will Liz be destroyed by this vortex, or will she use the crisis to open the door to a second chance at love and family?
Talk about a book with a lot of story in it. Coming in just under 300 pages you have everything from a suspense story line with the ex-husband's death, to a family exploration of past secrets and new family dynamics to a budding romance. It's kind of all going on at once but Val expertly weaves the story so you aren't overwhelmed with information. The flow from one thing to the next works really well which also made it a very fast read.
I kind of adored Liz. She comes from a troubled childhood never knowing her father and seemingly being rejected once she does meet him as a young adult fresh off her mother's apparent suicide. That alone is enough of a story. But then she marries Addy who while originally a successful entrepreneur, eventually turns to alcohol and seemingly looses it all, including Liz. Because she no longer enables him, he basically goes off the deep end and it leads to his eventual death. Which brings a certain detective into her life who she eventually starts a romantic relationship with. Which leads to her getting to know her family... because her father has since passed away but leaves behind siblings for her.
Confused? Don't be- it all makes sense in the book! Overall? I give this a solid 3/5. Is it overwhelming fantastic? No, but it is a good read. It's fast, it doesn't require a ton of thought, it keeps you turning pages, and you find you're done with the book in no time. Perfect for those of us who don't have a lot of time but still want to read. Definitely check this out when you are lining up your summer reads.