“Go ahead and jump. You know you want to.”
This book opens with the best scene ever! It’s been too long since I’ve started a book, read the first pages, and literally cleared my calendar to finish the story. But this contemporary women’s suspense novel grabbed my attention and held on until the brilliant end.
“It’s Always The Husband” follows three women – Aubrey, Jenny, and Kate – starting in the present day the night before someone’s fortieth birthday and then jumping back twenty-two years to their college years. All three come from very different backgrounds, and that gives the story a more diverse view, especially since they all end up at the same college. It’s their different social standings that add a depth to the advancement of the novel and a believability to the motives behind each of their actions.
Aubrey is the poor one, from the broken family, using college as a way to better her situation in life. Her motives are clear and I’m cheering for her to succeed from the moment she tucks the campus map into the back pocket of her jeans. But maybe that’s because we first see Kate and Jenny through Aubrey’s eyes. As true with a lot of situations, the three are set to become roommates, but when Aubrey writes letters to Jenny, the local girl, and Kate, the rich one, neither answers Aubrey, and right away I’m invested in Aubrey’s success. She seems to be the nice one. The one who reached out first. The one I want to like the most.
Jenny first appears to the readers through Aubrey’s point of view, and she comes across as mean and distant, but also studious, given the description of her bulletin board and class schedule. She’s obviously there to succeed, and she has a supportive family who live in town. Jenny is someone I want to like, but she doesn’t seem friendly, and I’m not surprised when she is the one to hesitate first about participating in anything socially related to college life.
But Kate – well, Kate is the one who comes from money, and she appears the most relaxed and friendly. She’s ready to have fun, and she’s not snobby at all. As the book progresses, the reader can see how much of every action and reaction revolves around Kate and what happens to her and what she allows to happen around her. She’s the one, despite having all the advantages, that wastes the most of her potential.
The shared proximity gives the three of them a forced friendship that is right away bound by a secret. From that point, their stories are told in small bits and pieces, and the reader is given just enough to puzzle the frame of the story, but not the whole image. It’s a fabulous way to unfold the mystery, and the timing of each chapter, in my opinion, fits seamlessly into place.
I think the first chapter is what really hooked me into finishing the book. The description of the small town played out realistically, as did the way the roommates all used each other for something. Without giving any of the deceit away, the author created a credible relationship among the three roommates while incorporating all the love, hate, jealousy, greed, and insecurities that exist in any threesome.
By the end of the novel, my opinions had certainly changed regarding all three women, and even though I think the author did an absolutely fantastic job with characterization, I think what made the characters even stronger, in my opinion, were their inability to change from who they really were at the start of the book. They start the book with their own goals and motivations, and then based upon their actions and the choices they make, by the end, it was clear to see how their earlier decisions landed them right where they landed. It was a marvelous and thrilling read that had me rethinking the ending long after I finished the book.
I’d love to hear your takeaways from this novel! Careers, men, goals, tragedies… What happened in your past to help or hinder your future? Anyone out there still friends with their college roommates?
As always, thanks for your time!
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. She has a master’s degree from George Mason University and joined The Seymour Agency after she ended an eight-year career teaching students language arts, grades 6-12. Previous to teaching, she worked as an assistant director for a graduate school in Washington, D.C., before settling in Southwest Florida over a decade ago. As a former gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer, she understands the importance of balance, and she encourages everyone to stay flexible. Cleveland is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum, and she loves connecting with other readers through social media. Though she’s a painfully private introvert, she can be reached through her website: www.marisacleveland.com or follow her journey on Twitter: @marisacleveland.