Desert Isle Keeper
Better Than Before
This week seems to have been the week for finding gut-wrenching stories, and this one is just as good as the other two. I tried several times over the past few months to read this book, but it just never caught my interest until the other night. Guess I was in the mood for it and I definitely can’t say I was disappointed at all.
Carlie Pearson was one of those girls we all knew in high school; the one who got pregnant on graduation night and “had” to get married. In her case, the father was long gone, so she married her best friend’s brother, Derek, and they made the best of a bad situation. Derek had loved Carlie since he was 14, and for 20 years, they’ve shared a life, had five children together, and life has been very good.
Now comes the unexpected – A 20-year high school reunion brings Kevin Gage, their oldest child’s biological father, back into their lives when they least want him there. This man can ruin everything between them, and can tear down the walls of their daughter’s security. In Carlie’s case, not only can Kevin’s discovering the truth possibly force her to lose her daughter, but also the love of the husband she has loved for more than 20 year, and has grown to depend on.
Derek is stoic, guarded, a wonderful hero full of pain and insecurity. He’s been the protector, the holder and sharer of the secret, the knight-in-shining-armour, and a hero in every sense of the word, and now his world is just as likely to shatter as Carlie’s. What happens if Kevin steps back into the picture? Where does that put him in the scheme of things? Will he lose the daughter that’s been the light of his eye, his to raise and love and watch grow into womanhood? What will he do without his “Ace”? What about the woman who didn’t have a choice but to become his wife – will he lose her as well?
Boy, this story really worked for me. This isn’t the typical “shotgun wedding” story. Judith writes a heart-wrenching, sit-in-your-gut, page-turner that puts a lot of our own lives right there on the line. How many of us might have ended up in that situation, or did end up in that situation? And if we didn’t, how many do we know that did? Judith managed very well to put both Derek and Carlie’s feelings into the pages of this book. You always seemed to know exactly how each of them felt at that exact moment. A true feat of writing excellence in my book, and I was never confused about what was going on between the two of them.
Judith spelled things out loud and clear and very, very well. I couldn’t put this book down, not for one single, solitary moment. Judith wrote this book, I’m sure, with every woman in mind because it’s truly any woman’s story. Judith Duncan writes wonderful stories about the province I live in, and every time I read one of her books, it seems to me it’s even better than the one before. Judith writes on real life, in real towns here in Alberta, and if her characters aren’t real people, I’d be surprised. I think she’s been highly under-rated over the years and I’m not afraid to say so. She’s just a fantastic writer.
Better Than Before is one of those books that you never forget. I may have read a thousand “he done me wrong” stories, but I’ve never read one quite as heart-wrenching as this one. If you get a chance to find this in a local Used Book Store, snap it up as soon as you can. You definitely won’t regret it.