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Heart Like Mine: A Novel

Heart Like Mine: A Novel

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Heart Like Mine: A Novel

4/5 (78 ratings)
412 pages
6 hours
Mar 19, 2013


Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again. But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover that there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Narrated by Grace and Ava in the present with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past, Heart Like Mine is a poignant, hopeful portrait of womanhood, love, and the challenges and joys of family life.
Mar 19, 2013

About the author

Amy Hatvany is the author of nine novels, including It Happens All the Time, Somewhere Out There, and A Casual Encounter. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her family.

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Heart Like Mine - Amy Hatvany



Later, I would look back and wonder what I was doing the exact moment Kelli died.

When I left the house for work that morning, nothing was different. There was no sense of impending doom, no ominous soundtrack playing in the back of my mind warning me that my world was about to change. There was only Victor asleep in our bed, and me, as usual, trying my best not to wake him as I kissed him good-bye.

It was a Friday in late October, and I drove my usual route downtown, taking in the dark silhouette of the Seattle skyline etched against a coral sky. Good morning, I said to my assistant, Tanya, after I’d parked and entered the building. She was a stunning woman with skin the color of the deepest, richest cocoa who favored brightly hued dresses to show off her abundant curves. A pre–Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson, I told my best friend, Melody, describing Tanya to her after I initially interviewed her for the job.

Morning, she said, so focused on whatever she was doing that she barely looked up from her computer screen. Her long red nails clackety-clacked on her keyboard. Six months ago, Tanya had been living with her two toddlers in one of our safe houses. At the time, she desperately needed to work and I desperately needed an assistant, so we seemed like a perfect match. I’d taken over as CEO of Second Chances the previous fall, honored to take the lead in an organization that began in the early nineties as a simple twenty-four-hour support line for battered women and had slowly grown into a multifaceted program including crisis response, counseling, temporary housing, and job placement assistance. We’d even opened a thrift shop earlier that year, where our clients had first pick of donated clothes for job interviews and later, when they were ready to go out on their own, entire wardrobes. My job was to make sure that the more practical, administrative aspects of the program, like funding and staffing, ran smoothly, but the real reason I’d accepted the job was for the privilege of helping women like Tanya rebuild their shattered lives.

I set down the latte I’d bought for her at the café downstairs so it would be within her reach, then turned and walked into my office, closing the door behind me. I assumed this would be like any other day. I positioned myself at my desk, booted up my computer, and reviewed my calendar. Other than a couple of phone calls, there was only a staff meeting at two o’clock, so I got busy studying the client files Tanya had pulled for me. It was time to decide if these women were ready to make the transition from our safe houses into a place of their own. Leaving the first home where they’d felt protected was often the hardest step for victims of domestic violence; I made sure we held their hand every step of the way.

I barely looked up from my papers until a few hours later, when my cell phone vibrated in my purse. I reached for it with a skipping, happy feeling in my belly at the sight of Victor’s name on the screen. Hi, honey, I said, glancing down at the ring on my finger. He’d only proposed five days ago and I was still unused to the weight of it, still a little stunned that he’d asked me to marry him at all.

Can you go pick up the kids from school for me? Victor asked. His voice was strained and carried an urgency I didn’t recognize.

What, I’m your fiancée now, so I don’t even get a hello? I said, hoping I could tease him out of his seemingly ugly mood. Victor was usually the most easygoing person I knew; I wondered if something had gone wrong at work, if his head chef had called in sick or one of his busers dropped a box of wineglasses. Is this what it’s going to be like being married to you?

Grace, he said. Seriously. I need you to pick them up and take them back to the house. Please.

What’s wrong? I asked, sitting up straight in my chair. Every muscle in my body suddenly tensed, realizing this wasn’t just a case of Victor’s having a bad day.

It’s Kelli. Her friend Diane found her a couple of hours ago. She wasn’t breathing and . . . I heard him swallow once, hard. She’s dead, Grace. Kelli’s dead.

My mouth went dry. Kelli. His ex-wife. Oh, holy shit. All the air pressed out of my lungs; it took a moment for me to be able to speak. "Oh my god, Victor. What happened?"

I don’t know the details yet. The medics took her to the ER and I guess I’m still listed as her emergency contact on her insurance plan, so they called me. Can you pick up the kids?

Of course. I stood up, scrambling for my purse. Panic jittered in my chest, picturing their response to this news. Ava, especially, at thirteen, needing her mother so much, and Max, who was only seven and still had to talk with Kelli before he could fall asleep the nights he stayed at our house. Max and Ava, who didn’t yet know that we were engaged. Victor had told Kelli the news earlier in the week, meeting her for a cup of coffee at the restaurant while the kids were still in school. How’d it go? I asked when he came home. He pressed his lips together and gave his head a brief shake. Not great, he said, and I hadn’t pressed him further.

What do you want me to tell them? I asked him now, already worried that whatever I said would be wrong.

Nothing, yet. I’ll be home as soon as I can, but I have to go to identify her— His voice broke, and he cleared it. Her body.

Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you? I’d never heard him so upset and felt desperate to do something to comfort him.

No, just get the kids. Please. I’ll figure out what to say to them before I get there.

We hung up, and I hurried outside my office. Tanya turned her gaze from her computer to me. What’s wrong?

It’s Kelli . . . Victor’s ex. I exhaled a heavy breath. She’s dead.

Her hand flew to her mouth. Oh my god! she said with her eyes open wide. She dropped her hand back to her lap. What happened?

We don’t know yet. Victor is on his way to the hospital right now.

Oh my god, she said again, shaking her head. I’ll wipe your calendar for next week. The staff meeting can wait. She paused. Do you want me to call Stephanie?

I nodded, thinking that the best person to cover for me was definitely my predecessor, who’d retired when I accepted the job but still gave her time to us as a volunteer. That’d be great. I’m not sure how long I’ll be out. Thank you.

Of course. I’ll call if there’s anything urgent. And let me know if you need anything else.

I left the building with my muscles shaking, climbed into my car, and gripped the steering wheel, trying to steady myself before pulling out of the lot. Thoughts spun in my head; I tried to imagine what life would be like for Max and Ava after they found out their mother was dead. And for me as the woman who, by default, would wind up standing in her place.

*  *  *

The night I met Victor, the idea that I might become the mother to his children was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, being a mother was pretty much the furthest thing from my mind any night of the week, something I tried to explain to my date as we sat in the bar of Victor’s popular Seattle restaurant, the Loft. At that moment, I didn’t know I was about to meet Victor. I didn’t know that he owned the restaurant or that he was divorced with two kids. All I knew was I needed to find a way to bail on this date before it got any worse. Chad was the college frat boy who’d never grown up, something I hadn’t realized when we’d messaged back and forth on and then briefly chatted on the phone. On paper, he was jocular, sort of funny, and had that confident, teetering-on-the-edge-of-cocky demeanor I typically found appealing in a man, so I figured there wouldn’t be much harm in meeting him for a simple drink. Clearly, I had figured wrong.

So, he said after we’d been seated, ordered our drinks, and gone over the usual niceties of how happy we were to finally meet in person. You don’t want kids? He leaned back in his chair with an odd smirk on his ruddy face.

I was immediately turned off by the blunt challenge in his tone; every internal red flag I had started waving. My online profile did, in fact, indicate that I was focused on pursuing my career more than motherhood, but it was strange that he would lead with this particular topic. I took a tiny sip of the lemon-drop martini our server had just delivered, letting the crunchy bits of sanding sugar that lined the rim of my glass dissolve on my tongue before answering. "It’s not so much that I don’t want them, I said. More like I’m not sure I’d be very good as a parent." I hoped my neutral response would dissuade him from pursuing the subject further.

Don’t you like kids? he asked, tilting his blond head at me.

"Yes, I like them," I said, repressing a sigh. It was frustrating how many people seemed to assume that I was heartless or unfeeling because I wasn’t rushing to become a mother. Men who chose a career over fatherhood weren’t automatically considered assholes. They were classified as devil-may-care George Clooney types. And who didn’t love George?

I have a brother who was born when I was thirteen, I explained to Chad. And I spent ten years helping to raise him before I finally moved out of my parents’ house, so I sort of learned firsthand that motherhood really isn’t for me. My decision wasn’t quite as simplistic as I’d made it sound, but I was already scanning the room for my quickest escape, so I didn’t see the sense in delving deeper than that with Chad. The Loft’s bar wasn’t huge, maybe a total of fifteen tables. The only exit was past the hostess, right in his line of sight. If I excused myself to the restroom, then tried to sneak out the front door, he’d see. I took a big swallow of my drink, hoping the alcohol would smooth the edges of my growing irritation.

Well, Chad said as he placed his meaty palms flat on our small, wooden table, I actually believe it’s a woman’s biological responsibility to reproduce. I mean, honestly, if you think about it anthropologically, your body is really just a support system for your uterus.

My wrist flicked and the contents of my drink splashed in his face before my mind registered it had given the command. Chad sputtered and wiped at his eyes with the backs of his hands as I set the now-empty glass on the table and quickly began gathering my things.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" he said, spitting out the words.

I stood, pulse pounding, holding my black leather clutch up off the table so it wouldn’t get vodka on it. Nothing, I said, attempting to take a slow, measured breath. You, however, might benefit from therapy. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall man with closely cropped, dark brown hair striding toward us from behind the bar. He wore a black dress shirt and slacks, both cut to complement his lanky build.

Chad stood too, and took a menacing step toward me just as the man in black grabbed him by the arm. Looks like you spilled your drink, he said. I immediately liked him for his attempt at diplomacy, despite my certainty that he had witnessed what actually happened. He appeared to be around my age, midthirties, maybe a little bit older. The threads of silver woven through the hair around his temples gave him a distinguished edge and his olive-toned skin held the slightly weathered look of a little too much time spent in the sun.

That bitch threw it in my face! Chad yelled. Every person who hadn’t been looking in our direction suddenly was. The buzz of conversation ceased, and the only sounds were the low, bass-driven background music piped in through the speakers and Chad’s hoarse, angry breathing.

The man’s grip tightened on Chad’s arm. Sir, I have to ask you to refrain from calling this lovely woman names. I’m sure it was an accident. He looked at me with kind, smoky gray eyes. Right, miss?

I shook my head. Nope. I threw it at him. He was being an ass. Are you the manager?

The man shook his head a little, too, and smiled, revealing white, straight teeth and a cavernous dimple in his left cheek. The owner, actually. Victor Hansen. He released his grip on Chad and held out his hand.

I clasped it quickly but firmly, my greet-the-executive, don’t-mess-with-me handshake. Grace McAllister. Good to meet you. I love this place.

Jesus! Chad interjected. His face flamed red and bits of saliva shot out from his mouth. If you two are done with your little schmooze-fest, I’d like to know who’s going to pay for my shirt!

Victor glanced over at Chad’s late-1990s holdover mustard-yellow rayon button-down, reached into his pocket, and offered him a twenty. This should cover it. Now, why don’t you show some dignity and walk away?

Chad looked at the bill in Victor’s hand but didn’t take it, then made a disgusted noise before grabbing his coat off the back of his chair and pushing his way through the bar to the front door, knocking into a few chairs and tables as he went. Outside, he threw a middle finger up in the air behind him as he walked by the window where Victor and I stood.

Wow, Victor said, tucking his money back in his pocket, I wonder if his mom knows he escaped her basement?

I laughed. Thank you, I said, reaching into my purse for my credit card. I held it out to him. I’m happy to pay for our drinks. The other customers stopped looking at us and returned to their own conversations; the comforting background noise of glasses and silverware tinkling filled the air.

Oh no, Victor said, waving my card away. Those are on me. He smiled again. Did you order dinner?

No, thank god. Just a drinks date. I shook my head. Evidently, I need to work on my screening process. Maybe I should start asking for men’s relationship résumés and require at least three glowing references before agreeing to meet.

Victor chuckled. Tough out there, isn’t it?

My eyes stole a glance down at his left hand. No ring. Hmm. He caught me midglance and lifted his hand up, wiggling his bare fourth finger. Some detective I’d make, huh? I laughed again, then reached up to smooth my russet waves.

Luckily, he laughed, too. So, I’m thinking the least I can do is feed you so the night’s not a total loss. Will you join me for dinner?

My cheeks flushed, and I dropped my gaze to the floor before looking back up at him and smiling. I’d like that, I said, but will you excuse me a moment? I need to visit the ladies’ room.

Of course. He pointed me in the right direction, and I walked away slowly, conscious of his eyes on me, making sure not to sway my hips in too obvious a manner, but enough so that he’d notice the movement. In the restroom, I stood in front of the full-length mirror and swiped on a touch of tinted lip gloss. I took a step back and examined my reflection. Reddish, shoulder-length hair, mussed in that casual, I-meant-it-to-look-a-little-messy way that had taken me over an hour to achieve. Pale skin, a spattering of freckles on my cheeks that no amount of powder could hide; green eyes, set evenly apart. A swash of mascara was the only makeup I wore besides the lip gloss. My lips were full enough, and the gloss definitely helped. Being that this was the first date night I’d had in several months, I’d taken the time to go shopping and pick out a flattering pair of dark, boot-cut jeans and a slightly clingy green sweater, both of which made the most of my somewhat average figure. My legs looked leaner, and with the help of a good bra, my chest looked perkier than usual. Overall, not too shabby. I pinched my cheeks for a little color and returned to the bar, where I found Victor exactly where I’d left him.

All set? he asked, and I nodded, following him through swinging black doors into the kitchen. As we entered, I hesitated. Um, do you want me to put my order in myself?

Victor laughed again, took my hand, and led me over to a high-backed, cushioned red booth off to the side of where the servers were gathered. No, I want you to have the best seat in the house—the chef’s table. He gestured for me to sit down. I’ll be right back. What were you drinking? Lemon Drop?

I smiled. How did you know?

Smelled it on your date. He winked, then strode over past the stainless steel counter behind which several cooks were either sautéing, whisking, or artfully arranging wonderful-smelling food on square white plates. The energy in the room was kinetic but slowed down as Victor spoke to one of the male chefs, a hugely muscled and handsome man with startling black tribal tattoos on his thick neck and forearms. He looked over at me as Victor talked, then he smiled and gave me a clipped salute in greeting. I gave a short wave back, briefly wondering how many other female patrons Victor had given this treatment.

Victor headed out of the kitchen—to get our drinks, presumably—so I quickly texted Melody, my best friend. Weird night. On date number two (I think), same restaurant. She texted back immediately: "WTH? I can’t even get one date!" I smiled to myself, picturing her curled up in her favorite plaid flannel pajamas, eating popcorn, and watching reruns of Sex and the City. Will explain tomorrow, I typed, pressing send just as Victor returned with two martinis. Dirty for him, lemon for me.

So, he said, I hope you don’t mind I ordered food for us both. I know the menu pretty well.

How do you know what I like? I asked, taking what I hoped was a dainty sip from my drink.

Well, I know you don’t like stupid men, so I’m already ahead of the game. He smiled. I’m having an assortment of dishes brought out, actually, so you can sample a little of everything.

Impressive. Must be nice to be the owner.

He grinned. It is. So, what do you do?

I launched into a short description of my career, how after I got my degree in business management, I’d stumbled into a position as a lowly HR assistant and worked my way up through various companies to an eventual directorship for a local medical center. It was there I learned about Second Chances. I told him how I’d been a volunteer with the organization long before I was one of its employees.

What made you want to give your time there, in particular? Victor asked, tilting his head a bit toward his shoulder.

Well, I said, that’s kind of a long story.

The good ones usually are.

All right then, you asked for it, I said with a smile. So, I was in seventh grade when I saw a news segment about this amazing female doctor who traveled the world helping people who’d been affected by all sorts of atrocities—disease, war, famine. Horrible stuff. And I remember being in awe watching her cradle this extremely ill-looking woman, who just clung to her like she hadn’t been held so tenderly in her entire life. Tears swelled my throat even then, as I recalled the power of that moment. I guess that image sort of stuck with me. I sort of promised myself to someday be like that doctor . . . helping those who couldn’t help themselves.

Victor nodded and seemed interested, so I continued, careful not to hop up on my soapbox about the political issues surrounding domestic violence, as I sometimes had the tendency to do when I started talking about my job. When I heard about the work Second Chances did, it seemed like such a perfect way to fulfill that desire. I mean, HR was great for me professionally, but this was an opportunity to help people on a much more personal level, you know? He nodded again, and I went on, wrapping the details up as quickly as I could. I enrolled in crisis counselor training to get qualified to take calls on the help line and started using my business contacts to increase fund-raising donations, and discovered I had a real passion for the work. When the woman who started the organization told me she was retiring, I applied for the position and got it. Most of my management experience is in operations and organizational development, so it’s kind of a perfect fit.

I think it’s great that you’re so passionate about what you do, Victor said, lifting his glass and tilting his head, indicating that I should do the same. Congrats.

I complied, and we clinked our glasses together lightly. Thank you.

He took a sip of his drink, then set it back on the table before giving me another smile. So, I have to ask. What did that guy say to get you so mad? I gave him a quick recap of Chad’s statements about the role of women in relation to procreating and Victor’s jaw dropped. Are you kidding me?

I shrugged. I guess he didn’t believe me when I told him I’ve chosen not to have kids.

Me too, Victor said. At least, not any more than I already have.

I cocked a single eyebrow and apparently looked as confused as I felt, so he pulled out his wallet to show me a picture of two dark-haired, blue-eyed children—a girl and a boy. Max is six and Ava is twelve, he said. They live with their mom, but I see them every other weekend. His voice was tinged with a tiny bit of sadness, and I automatically wondered what kind of relationship he had with his ex-wife. In the past, if I were mentally reviewing a man’s relationship résumé and it included the word father among his experience, I would have moved it to the no pile. But it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to find a single man who hadn’t already been married or didn’t have children, so I attempted to keep an open mind. Just because I wasn’t set on having babies didn’t mean I wasn’t looking to fall in love.

How long have you been divorced? I asked, keeping the inquiry light. How recently he came back on the dating market played a big part in my decision about whether or not he was relationship material. I wasn’t anxious to be any man’s rebound girl.

A little over two years, Victor said. We get along fairly well, which is great for the kids.

Ah, I said, leaning back against the seat cushion. They’re adorable. I realized he was the first person in as long as I could remember who hadn’t immediately asked why I wasn’t anxious to have children as soon as they found this out about me. Another point in his favor.

They’re also enough, he said. I’m thirty-nine, and I don’t plan to have any more. He looked at me, his expression hesitant. So, does my daddy status mean this is our last date?

Date? I fiddled with the hem of my sweater and issued what I hoped was an appealing smile. This isn’t just the owner of the restaurant making up for a customer’s crappy night?

I don’t think so. He gaze became more determined as he reached over and skimmed the top of my hand with his fingertips. I’d like to see you again.

His touch sent a shiver through me, and staring into his kind eyes, I felt a twinge somewhere in the vicinity of my belly. Do I do this? I hadn’t dated a man with children before, but something about Victor felt different. Special enough to think he might just be worth taking a chance.


After Dad moved out, Saturday mornings were the hardest. Saturdays used to be when he didn’t have to get up early and head to the restaurant; Saturdays were when he woke us with the buttery smell of his special homemade vanilla-bean waffles toasting on the griddle and smoky bacon sizzling on the stove. I loved to lie in my bed, breathing in the tendrils of those familiar scents, feeling them wrap around me, warm and comforting as my father’s arms.

Breakfast, kiddos! he bellowed when it was ready. Come and get it while it’s hot!

Max would scamper down the hallway to beat me to the table, but I stayed in bed with a small, secret smile on my face, knowing exactly what was coming next. My bedroom door was flung open, and Daddy would stomp over to me. Is there a sleepy little girl in here? he asked in a teasing, slightly maniacal voice. "Does she need to be tickled to wake up?"

No! I’d squeal, my smile growing wider, scrunching myself up against the wall, pretending to try to get away from him.

Oh, yes! Dad said, holding his hands out in front of him and wiggling his fingers like crazy.

Daddy, no! I said again, but inside I was thinking, Oh, yes!

It’s time to get uh-up! he said, and then it would come, the dive-bomb of his fingertips to my sides, and I couldn’t help but shriek, giggling and laughing and writhing around beneath his touch. Are you awake yet? he asked, rubbing the short stubble of his beard against my neck to tickle me more. Are you ready to come have breakfast?

Yes! I yelled, smiling so wide it almost hurt my cheeks. Okay! I’m coming!

Dad kissed my cheek and pulled his hands away from my body. All right then, he said. Let’s eat!

Now that he was gone, now that Mama had asked him to leave, Saturday mornings were quiet, empty of any happy laughter. For breakfast we had cereal or toast, and most of the time, I ended up going into Mama’s room to wake her up so we wouldn’t be late for Max’s soccer games. Just last week, she had forgotten that we were in charge of bringing the snack, and instead of just stopping at the store to buy something like any of the other moms probably would have, she’d rushed to bake a batch of cupcakes before we could leave.

Yoo-hoo! she had singsonged as we finally made our way to the field where Max’s game was about to get under way. Sorry we’re late!

He’d missed warm-up, but as I carefully balanced the carrying case filled with the chocolate cupcakes, Max raced past us to get to where his coach was picking the starting lineup. The mothers of Max’s teammates barely turned to acknowledge Mama’s greeting. They sat together on the bleachers with heavy plaid blankets over their laps, chattering and laughing at something one of them had said. A group of men stood nearby, laughing and shaking each other’s hands; a few of them shouted encouragement to Max and his teammates. Daddy used to stand with those men, talking and laughing, before he moved out. Now he only came to Max’s games on the Saturdays we were with him.

I set the carrying case on the table next to the cooler full of water bottles and watched as Mama tried again. She fluffed her hair and put on her best, brightest smile. Hey there, she said as she walked over to stand next to the group. Beautiful weather for a game, isn’t it? It was a cold, crisp fall day.

A heavyset woman with black, straight hair turned her head and gave Mama a false smile in return. Yes, she said, as though stating something incredibly obvious. It is.

How’s the other team looking this morning? Mama asked, shoving her hands into the side pockets of her fitted black leather jacket. The other moms wore Columbia fleece pullovers or earthy-toned wool sweaters. Mama chose tight Levi’s and over-the-knee black boots to match her jacket; the other women had on rain boots or closed-toed Birkenstocks. Our babies are going to show ’em who’s boss, right?

No one answered her. Instead, a few of them covered their mouths and stifled coughs. Mama’s chin trembled just the tiniest bit before she sat down on the bottom bleacher and tucked her tiny hands between her legs. I joined her, and she put her arm around me, hugging me to her. I wanted to tell her not to worry—that she was prettier than all those other women. Nicer, too. But I didn’t know if I should. If it was good for her to know that I could see the sadness in her eyes when she looked at them—the longing to be made a part of their group. Mama and I were alike that way. She had Diane and I had my best friend, Bree, but that was pretty much it. She looked at those women like I looked at the popular girls at school. Like, Please, just give me a chance.

One of the fathers noticed Mama sitting on the edge of the bleachers. He was tall and barrel chested, with sandy blond hair and a goatee. He made a comment under his breath to the other men, and a few of them snickered in response. He walked over to us, propped his foot up on the edge of the bleacher right next to Mama’s leg, and leaned on his thigh with his forearm. Hey, Kelli, he said. How are you? His words were slick, as though coated in oil as they slid from his mouth.

Mama gave him a sparkling smile. Well, I’m just fine, thank you very much. Her voice was bubbly, practically dripping with enthusiasm. "How are you?"

Better now, he said with a wink, and my stomach clenched. I was pretty sure he was Carter’s dad, and the husband of the black-haired, heavy woman, who I only knew as Carter’s mom. I didn’t like the way he was looking at Mama. I didn’t like how hairy his knuckles were, either.

Honey, Carter’s mom called out, noticing her husband talking to us. Are you watching the game?

Carter’s not even on the field yet, he said sharply, giving her a hard look. Then he turned his gaze back to Mama, softening it. I feel like I haven’t seen you around much. I was sorry to hear about you and Victor. You two always seemed so happy.

Mama kept her smile bright, but I saw the flash of grief in her eyes. Even after all of this time, she still seemed to miss him. A few weeks ago, she had accidentally set a place for him at the dinner table. I guess things aren’t always as they seem, she said to Carter’s father now.

I guess not, he said with a chuckle. He glanced toward the parking lot. Is Victor coming today?

Mama shook her head. He wanted to, but he’s working. He’ll be here next week, for sure. It’s his weekend with the kids. He wanted to? If that was true, it was news to me. I wondered if Mama made that up.

Carter’s dad leaned down, closer to Mama. And what about you? he almost whispered. "Will you be here?"

Mike! Carter’s mom said loudly. Can you please get me another blanket from the car? It’s colder than I thought out here.

Carter’s dad straightened, put both feet back on the ground, and winked at Mama before he looked up at his wife. Sure thing, he said flatly. He let his fingers brush against Mama’s arm as he walked past her, and I saw Mama shrink back.

"He’s gross," I whispered to Mama, and she turned her head, her lips pursed.

You hush, now. That’s impolite.

So was he! I said, maybe a little too loudly.

Mama drew her eyebrows together over the bridge of her nose. Ava. Watch your mouth. You’re too young to be talking like that about a grown-up. She straightened in her seat and then cupped her hands around her mouth. Go on now, Max! she hollered as the team ran onto the field. Push ’em back, push ’em back, waaay back! She jumped up, shimmied her bent arms, and wiggled her tiny behind.

"Mama," I said, cringing a bit as the other women behind us stopped talking and stared. Acting like that would just make the other mothers make fun of her—didn’t she know that?

"I think that’s a football cheer, Kelli," Carter’s mom said, and then I saw her roll her eyes. I gritted my teeth, wishing I had something to throw at her.

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  • (4/5)
    An interesting book about families coming together into something new. Grace has dedicated herself to her job at a battered women's shelter, and never had much time for relationships, until she met Victor. Victor owns a restaurant and has custody of his two children on weekends, but doesn't want anymore - which is a relief to Grace, because she's never wanted kids. Kelli, Victor's ex-wife, keeps the kids during the week and desperately needs their affection, and even their help with remembering household chores like paying the bills. When Kelli is found dead, the kids come to live with Victor and Grace full-time, something neither adult is prepared for. On top of that, everyone is trying to figure out how Kelli died, without telling the others what they know. Told from the perspectives of Grace, Ava, and occasionally Kelli herself, this book will make you re-think your views on all things motherhood and family.
  • (4/5)
    Blurb from the publisher:Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be? At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.Narrated by Grace and Ava in the present with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past, Heart Like Mine is a poignant and hopeful portrait about womanhood, love, and the challenges of family life.My thoughts : Heart Like Mine, such a simple title, yet...who's heart is like mine? Ava's, the grieving and angry teen? Grace's, the instant "mom", almost wife and struggling career driven woman? Or Kelli's, relating to her daughter's, her hard nosed mother, or her daughter's soon to be step-mom? I started this book thinking I'd have a clear answer when I finished. You know what? It really doesn't matter who the title references. I'm one of those readers who likes to find the truth behind the title. And while my truth may be different from the truth you find? They're both truthful, and both right.Hatvany has created such real people! I know we often hear and read things like that, but I really mean "real". No matter what character is speaking, you know them! They are in your world. I think one of the hardest things for an author, is to accurately speak for different ages and to have it be honest, and most importantly, believable. One of the most honest scenes for me was between Grace and Victor, (her fiance and Ava's dad). They are discussing the incredibility of Kelli's parents not wanting to have anything to do with their daughter and grandchildren. OK, that's a pretty strange thing on its own, but the scene quickly turns to Grace being hurt because her fiance was remembering what traits he liked in his ex-wife, Kelli. Smartly, Hatvany quickly gave Grace the humility and love to realize that Victor, at one time, loved his ex, just as he loves HER now. That Victor is human.Hatvany's Heart Like Mine is scattered FULL of these quiet moments, where the characters are clearly defined, where she wants you to feel for each of them, and when you do? You struggle with the events of this story even more. You're pulled in the direction of the three women, and also pulled by the two main guys, Victor, and his son the adorable, Max. Hatvany has made the women the focus and also the characters who hold and also solve the mysteries. We don't get too much from the males, Victor, Max or Kelli's father. While Victor and Max figure in the stories, we hear little from them, but what little we hear is powerful. Kelli's distant father is around, but her mother's is the voice that we, as readers, have the most interaction with. For me, the author wrote a fast paced and engaging book, you wanted to read faster to keep the pages turning. Her dialogue for all of the characters is spot on and the voices clear in your head as you read. You quickly get to know these people and have no problem at all keeping up with the story, as Hatvany's superb story telling propels you forward.I won't give you too much more, as I don't want to spoil the ride that the author gives you. I give this 4 out of 5 stars, I really enjoyed Heart Like Mine, and recommend it highly. My only little quibble, so to speak, is that it all wrapped up pretty quickly. The ending is believable and satisfying, but it happened oh-so-fast! Now, if that's the only complaint I have? This is one fine book!!Heart Like Mine is in stores and for sale online today!**This e-galley was provided to me, in exchange for an honest review, by the publisher through NetGalley.
  • (5/5)
    good read. very similar style to jodi picoult.
  • (4/5)
    Heart Like Mine is a story that revolves around Grace, Kelli, and Ava. Grace is a woman who is not very successful in the dating department. Kelli is the ex wife of Victor Hansen, who Grace is dating. Ava is Kelli and Victor's daughter. The day after Victor tells Kelli about Grace, Kelli is found dead. What follows is an emotional story that grabs at the heartstrings. I found this book easy to read, each chapter told alternately by Grace, Kelli and Ava. As the story goes on we learn the pasts of both Grace and Kelli. Ava is having a hard time dealing with her mother's death and learning to have a relationship with Grace. A story of love, forgiveness and faith in human nature...I enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    This was the first book by author, Amy Hatvany, that I read. I was immediately taken in my the characters and found myself not wanting to put the book down. Such an enjoyable read that I am now beginning to read another book by the same author. In order for me to be drawn into a book, I have to 'buy in' to the characters. There has to be a connection. WIth this book, I completely fell in love with the characters. Real life 'people' with real life problems. Definitely worth the read!
  • (5/5)
    I read a previous book by this author titled, Best Kept Secret. I enjoyed that book so much, that I definitely wanted to read Heart Like Mine.This was definitely another winner.The books are always easy reading, but just really good plots and likable characters. In this one, Grace finds herself dating a divorced man with 2 children. She really wants to spend her life with Victor, but never wanted children and is not sure she has what it takes to raise them. When Victor's wife, Kelli mysteriously dies, Grace is suddenly forced into a premature motherhood. She also begins to dig up hidden secrets from Kelli's past that could lead to the reason of her death. Meanwhile, Victor's children find it challenging to embrace Grace as the new mother figure in their life. The oldest daughter Ava, also starts to look into her mom's childhood when she is left with unanswered questions.Great writing, a storyline involving hidden secrets, a past life, a mysterious death and the reality of life with step children make this another must read book from an author on my "to-read" list!I received a complimentary copy from Netgalley.
  • (4/5)
    Sometimes you read a book that affects you in a way that you hadn't excepted. Heart Like Mine is one if those books. The characters are flawed, real and moving. The story takes you back and forth in history through several characters points of view giving you a well balanced and deeply engrossing read! From page one I felt the characters emotions and could relate to all of them in some way. This was a quick and enjoyable read!
  • (5/5)
    Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany please post on or as close to publication date as possible.This book starts out with the day she learns her fiance ex had died and the kids would be his responsibility. Then we learn their history of how they met and dated and became engaged.Grace McAllister works at the womens shelter and was dating with others she met on til the day Chad was being a jerk and the owner of the Loft saw what had happened and broke in to offer his assistance, Victor Hansen.Max and Ava are the kids and it's been over 3 years since their dad had left. Their mom Kelli works at a restaurant in the city. We hear from Ava's side in this book as well.Kelli also has some chapters and we learn what led to her married life and onward.Very easy to follow the characters but the order of events is all jumbled up-to me. Sometimes you are in the present, sometimes the near past, sometimes the far past.Some things about Kelli they will never know about as they go through photo albums...but there are many clues that some seek and try to solve together..
  • (4/5)
    Life rarely goes as planned. In my house we are fond of saying "the best laid plans of mice and men..." as we try to roll with whatever life has handed out, good, bad, or indifferent. But sometimes what life hands out is so overwhelming that you just don't know how to get through it other than to put your head down and push even while you second guess yourself and consider running away. In Amy Hatvany's newest novel, Heart Like Mine, Grace McAllister is hit with one of life's huge curveballs and not only she, but every character in the novel, will have to adjust to the unexpected and unwanted for a chance to build a new, very different, but ultimately happy life and family. Director of a non-profit dedicated to getting abused women back on their feet, Grace has never wanted children. She helped raise her younger brother, is a caretaker in her work life, and has never longed for kids of her own. But when she meets and falls in love with good-looking, restauranteur Victor Hansen, she figures that she can be step-mother to his teenaged daughter and young son, especially since the kids live with his ex-wife Kelli. But just days after Grace and Victor get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly and unexpectedly, throwing their future and lives into turmoil. Suddenly, non-maternal Grace is at the center of a ready-made, full-time family and she has to step up to support children grieving the loss of their mother and resentful of her presence or decide that this isn't the life she signed on for and walk away. Victor can't be around for his kids as much as he'd like because the restaurant demands so much of him to stay successful but he and Grace clash over ways to parent his children, especially when Ava pits her father against her soon to be stepmother, adding more tension into an already fraught situation. And Ava, on the cusp of becoming a young woman, resents and needs Grace, alternately pushing her away out of loyalty to Kelli and clinging to her for emotional support and the understanding that only a mother or woman can provide. As they all try to come to an understanding of why Kelli died, long-held secrets from her past start to surface and help to explain more of her character to both Ava and Grace and help them come to an understanding of the person she was. Grace and Ava and Kelli are all the focus of a third person omniscient narrator here; Grace and Ava's perspectives are presented both in the present and the past, filling in their backstories, and in the chapters focused on Kelli, her past is explored. This technique gives the reader a way to know Grace and Ava's histories and see why they react the ways they do to Kelli's death and to understand what was going on in Kelli's head just before she died. Hatvany has done a good job capturing the mercurial grief of a teenager and the ways in which blended families face stressors that intact families can't imagine, especially when complicated by the loss of one parent. Ava is immature and realistic as a budding teenager, filled with rage and grief and confusion, pushing Grace away even as she needs the reassurance that Grace is there for her if she needs her. Grace hersef is floundering in a role she never chose and which has changed her life beyond recognition. She is so caught up in processing the fact that she's been thrust into parenting that she can't recognize the fact that her compassion and caring at work will directly translate to dealing with Ava and Max. Her frustration, hurt, and betrayal in the early days after Kelli's death as she and Victor not only figure out their changed relationship but also how Grace fits into the kids' lives now that they all live together is definitely authentic feeling although perhaps not explored as fully as it might be as the mystery of Kelli's past picks up steam. Heart Like Mine is very much a book about relationships, those we choose and those we don't and about the ways in which we adapt and change our relationships when life warrants. It is a quick read and the main characters are sympathetic and realistic. The mystery behind Kelli's long estrangement from her parents is easily guessed and the resolution between Grace and Ava is too easy and quick given the difficult emotions that preceeded it and the reality of life in a blended family. This accelerated pacing towards the end of the book, as the reason behind Kelli's despair is uncovered and the question of whether or not she took too many pills on purpose is revealed (but only to the reader, not to the characters), is a flaw but not one that will put off most readers. Hatvany tackles current social issues carefully and women's fiction fans will appreciate this tale of motherhood, relationship, family, and loss
  • (3/5)
    Amy Hatvany’s Heart Like Mine is a moving novel of grief, love and family. When Grace fell in love with Victor she was relieved to learn he didn’t want any more children, content with the fortnightly weekend care arrangement of his children from his previous marriage. But when his ex wife, Kelli, dies suddenly, Grace is forced to make room for his shattered thirteen year old daughter, Ava, and seven year old son, Max in their lives.Heart Like Mine unfolds through the perspectives of Grace and Ava, with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past. I feel the author’s strength lies in her honest portrayal of her characters. They are sympathetic as they struggle with realistic internal conflicts and attempt to cope with their confusion and pain.Grace desperately wants to support Victor and his children in their grief but is unsure of what her role is in the new family dynamic. She is wary of Ava’s hostility, even though she understands the girl’s behaviour and is prepared to make allowances, but it feeds into her own insecurities, especially when Victor fails to back her up. I think Hatvany handled Grace’s conflicting emotions particularly well as a woman who had no desire to become a mother thrust unexpectedly into the role of caring for two grieving children.Ava is shattered by her mother’s death, having essentially become responsible for her mother’s emotional well being for the three years since her dad left, she feels guilty that she couldn’t save her mother. Hatvany captures Ava’s pain and confusion beautifully, her impulsive bursts of hostility and poor judgement are believable as the teen struggles to cope with her loss. Ava’s curiosity about her mother’s hidden past is a way to connect with her now she is gone.It’s difficult to dislike Kelli, despite her weaknesses, when the secret she has kept hidden is revealed through alternating chapters. I could only find pity for a damaged woman that never really grew up and was unable to overcome early tragedy.Hatvany explores the pain of loss and the difficulty of change as the family adjusts to Kelli’s death and their new situation. While I think the author deals with the complex emotions of the characters the novel well, I didn’t feel the plot was predictable and the story failed to offer any unique insight.I think Outside the Lines was a stronger book but Heart Like Mine is a heartfelt, poignant story that is a quick, engaging read.
  • (4/5)
    Grace McAllister is an accomplished woman. She worked in human resources and volunteered for charitable groups before becoming the director of a charitable agency that provides shelter, clothing, and training for victims of domestic violence. She has never had any desire to have children or be a mother and despairs that she'll ever find a man that understands her desire to remain childless. Fortunately she meets Victor Hansen. Victor is a divorced restaurateur with two children from his marriage. He's quite happy allowing his ex-wife to be the primary custodial parent and doesn't really have any desire to have more children. Kelli Hansen is Victor's ex-wife and is needy, dependent upon others for support and emotionally fragile. Ava Hansen is only thirteen years old but she's been forced to grow up quite fast and take over many of the household management responsibilities after her father left. She tries to support her mother as best as she can by helping around the house, watching her younger brother Max and even paying the bills. The lives of these three women intersect because of their relationships with Victor Hansen, but none of them know how the repercussions of one death will affect the survivors.Heart Like Mine is contemporary fiction read that addresses some major issues: what is family, teenage angst over boys, a teenage pregnancy, emotional instability, survivor's guilt, guilt over not wanting to experience motherhood, and more. Ms. Hatvany has taken a number of complex issues and carefully woven them into a story that has drama without being overly dramatic or trite. This story is told in three voices, those of the three primary female characters: Grace, Ava and Kelli. All three stories gradually reveal a tragic past that is adversely impacting the present. The reader is provided glimpses of Kelli's life that hint at depression as well as the idea that her death may have been a suicide. It was heartbreaking to read Ava's story and see her guilt at not being strong enough to see her mother's need for assistance. In many respects Ava had to grow up at age 10 and assume a lot of the responsibilities that her father had before her parents' divorce. Although Ava is angry at her mother leaving her by dying, she never expresses any anger about having had to be the caregiver rather than the child. Grace is able to understand just what Ava is going through to some extent as she had the responsibility of raising her younger brother while her mother worked and her father was just absent. All three ladies are looking for love and acceptance. Unfortunately Kelli was simply unable to provide the acceptance and validation she required. Heart Like Mine isn't a light read since it does deal with some heavy issues but it was a fast read. If you enjoy contemporary fiction and strong female characters, then you'll definitely want to add Heart Like Mine to your reading list.
  • (5/5)
    I just plain like the way she writes--going from character to character as well as back and forth in time so you see where they come from and how they relate. The ending came a tiny bit abruptly but it was time for the story to come to an end.
  • (3/5)
    This was just OK to maybe I liked it. It seemed a bit too sappy and chick litty for my taste. (I realize litty is not a word).

    If you are a person that is in to chick lit, then I think that this book will be quite enjoyable for you.
  • (4/5)
    Grace McAllister has just become engaged to her boyfriend Victor, and they're planning to tell his children during their weekend visit, when a normal Friday afternoon is disrupted by the shocking news that the children's mother, Victor's ex-wife Kelli, has suddenly died. The couple are now full-time parents to two grieving children, with all the new stresses this introduces, for Victor, for Grace, and for the two children, thirteen-year-old Ava and ten-year-old Ben.

    Grace raised her much younger brother, and has never wanted children of her own. She's not sure she has the ability to be the parent the children need. Victor feels guilty for not having been as involved in his children's lives as he now thinks he should have been, and fears he is more like his father, who left when he was five, than he cares to believe. The cause of Kelli's death isn't altogether clear--she died of heart failure, but the underlying cause may have been an overdose of her anti-anxiety medication.

    We learn that Ava, at thirteen, had been taking on enormous responsibility for taking care of her brother, and helping her mother do basic things like paying the bills. She's been bearing the burden of being the emotionally strong one in her relationship with her mother. Now she's confused and guilty, afraid that her mother died because she didn't tell her father or a teacher what was going on.

    And then, gradually, Ava and Grace separately start to discover that Kelli's past is a mystery. There are no pictures of her after the age of fourteen until she's an adult. She talked a lot about being a cheerleader in high school, and captain of the squad, but the only yearbook she has is her freshman year of high school.

    There's a big, gaping hole in her history. Is that where the explanation for her death lies?

    We get the story in alternating chapters, Grace's viewpoint, Ava's viewpoint, and, in flashbacks, Kelli's viewpoint. It's a beautifully braided story, revealing events from multiple viewpoints, and building up a fuller and fuller understanding of Grace, Ava, and Kelli, and how all their lives have been affected by the decisions of adults around them as they grew, and their own choices flowing from those experiences.

    Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Did you really put 5 stars or there is a mistake ?
    No there isn't any mistake :)
    the book was great ! , all the feelings in it are right and true.
    the longing and yearning for her mother's warm hug to the way Grace is thinking are so right it's so close to real life
    how could a one-big mistake destroy a life of a family ?

    we all know and in all culture that it's a big and unforgettable sin that's hardly forgiven and almost impossibly forgotten ..
  • (3/5)
    I really enjoyed this book till the end. I was not satisfied with how it ended.

    I really liked that we heard this story from 3 different people. Victor's ex wife, his daughter and the current women in his life. (don't want to give too much away here)

    We start the story with Victor and Kelli already divorced and Victor dating. Their 2 children live with Kelli and as we read the chapter we learn a lot about Kelli's childhood, her marriage.

    There are not a lot of extra characters in this book - a few 'best friends' make small appearances.
  • (4/5)
    Heart Like Mine is a story of families, love, loss, grief, and, finally, redemption told from the perspective of three women. These women have only one thing in common - a man named Victor. Kelli, his ex-wife, wants nothing more than to be loved and to be a good mother to their two children. Her untimely death is the catalyst for the story. Grace, his fiancee, is a strong career woman who, despite having a huge well of caring and compassion, has no desire to be a mother. With Kelli's death, she is suddenly forced to take over as full-time caregiver to the two children and is not sure if she can cope or if she wants to. Ava, Victor's thirteen-year-old daughter, is grieving for her dead mother and hates Grace for being alive while Kelli is dead. Although she has been more caretaker to her mother than daughter since the divorce, she had always hoped that her parents would get back together. The story is told in alternate viewpoints by each of the three. Grace and Ava speak in the first-person present while Grace's story is told in the third person with flashbacks to her past. Interestingly,Victor, the tie that binds the three, is absent for most of the story and he has no real voice in the narrative. How we see him depends on how he is perceived by each of the women.The story is about love, grief, and becoming a family but it is also about the power of parents to effect the lives of their children, the importance of friendships, and how even small decisions can change lives. It is beautifully written and, although the switching between alternate viewpoints at times feels like watching someone juggle dangerous objects and fearing that one must drop, author Amy Hatvany never loses control of the novel. The women always remain distinctive voices and the story never loses focus. If, like me, you like stories with strong women and good men, this book is for you.
  • (4/5)
    I was given a free copy of this book to read and give my honest opinion. I loved this story. Its real and its poignant and compelling. The main characters could be your neighbours or your own family. Its a tale of blended families, and the impact of parents choices on their children. This is a must read book.
  • (3/5)
    Grace McAllister, a 36-year-old career-oriented woman, has not been successful in finding a good possible mate until she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome owner of a restaurant. He, however, is a divorced father of two, and Grace is determined not to have kids in her life. But Victor assures her that, with the children's mother having primary custody, Grace doesn't have anything to worry about, and they become engaged. Less than a week later however, Victor’s first wife Kelli is found dead, and suddenly Grace has a lot more on her plate than she bargained for.The story is told in alternating points of view by Grace, Kelli (via flashbacks), and Ava, Victor’s 13-year-old daughter. From the flashbacks plus some investigative work by Grace and Ava, we find out what happened to Kelli, and how Victor, Grace, Ava, and Max (Ava's younger brother) learn to cope with their jarring new circumstances.Discussion: I thought the stepfamily and adjustment-to-sudden-death dynamics were portrayed rather well by the author, at least until the All Better Now ending. Most of the story was incredibly predictable. Moreover, Victor was annoyingly self-centered, and Grace way too understanding of it. HELLO, Victor: Grace has been put in a WAY harder position than you, and you have practically no concept of it! While the author does show the difficulties faced by Grace, her emphasis is on Grace’s adaptation to the situation and her full (and career-impeding) embrace of “motherhood”, rather than on Victor having any enlightenment. This may be realistic, but it was also quite irritating.Some of Ava’s dialogue didn’t seem very thirteenish to me: “My anger was barbed and bitter in my mouth.” Really?I was also a little put off by the dialogue given to Grace’s gay brother. It seemed a little too evocative of gay stereotypes for me.I did like, however, the advice Grace received from her assistant about what love is:"‘...if I’ve learned anything over the past couple of years, it’s that any fool can learn to talk a good game about how they feel. It takes real strength to show up and prove it.’ She paused. ‘You hear me? You understand what I’m saying? Love is a verb.”Evaluation: Predictable, but not a bad beach read, and one that will especially appeal to those who have been in step-parenting situations.
  • (4/5)
    By: Amy HatvanyPublished By: Washington Square PressAge Recommended: AdultReviewed By: Arlena DeanRating: 4Book Blog For: GMTAReview:"Heart Like Mine" By Amy Hatvany was a wonderfully written story full with mystery, family drama, relationships and death. I enjoyed how the author gave us a story told from three different people. Victor and Kelli are divorced and he is dating Grace. The children Ava and her brother Max live with their mom, Kelli. Now, as the story moves along there will be a death and the children will now live with their dad. Now, will this present a problem for Grace? You will have to keep up with the story because it does jump around quite a bit. This is where I say you must pick up this read to find out what it is all about. Each one of these three ladies will have a story...and what a story it is. The characters were all well developed and normal real people that kept you interested in the read and turning the pages to find out what was coming next. "Heart of Mine" was a rather quick read but it has a 'lots of substance' and would I recommend this book? YES!
  • (5/5)
    Wow! Amy Hatvany has just been added to my favorite author list! I love her writing style and cannot wait to start on her other books (I have ordered them all) and will pre-order her new one “Safe with Me – coming 2014 included as a sneak peak at the end of Heart Like Mine (already has me hooked).

    I am so thankful you wrote this book – I could so relate with Grace, as I was in the stepmother role (and it is not an easy task) – it makes you want to run back to your independent life without all the drama. I had two sons of my own and met a man with 3 sons – his all had dyslexia (all five boys from age 7-15) – boy, do you have to be thick skinned – there is always some sort of fighting, manipulating, other mother involved, power struggles, etc…and then to find they all want to come and live with you – it can be very overwhelming at times. It means a lot to have the husband’s support, sometimes Victor was not supporting Grace (so admire her for hanging in there).

    Both Grace and Kelli had similar backgrounds and was unable to live their childhood/teen years as a normal teen; however, Kelli and Grace turned out differently. Kelli was very weak and needy and looked to others to provide her happiness instead of creating her own. Amy did an outstanding job of speaking from Ava, Kelli, and Grace’s perspective and voice-- loved how she seamlessly tied it all together. It was brilliantly written (wish list) – Would love to see sequel in tracking down Kelli’s child, the new relationship between sisters and brothers, and possibly Grace/Victor with a child of their own, and more from Spencer/Melody – (this could fill at least another two books). Hey, I would buy them!

    Highly recommend this book and so look forward to reading more from this author. Her insight into the pitfalls of step parenting are so realistic, as I speak from experience.

    I tend to read the new ones first which hooks me on the author, and then I want to dive into everything they have written. Have read so many great reviews about Amy and lots of praise from my other favorite authors about her work. Great reading!! She speaks to the heart and does not miss a beat.
  • (2/5)
    Maybe this book gets better as it goes along. I'll never know, as I applied the Nancy Pearl rule and quit after about 60 pages. Although I regularly read books that are probably targeted at women readers, I just found the characters in this book seemed like they belonged in an American television soapie...maybe Days of our Lives, or similar. I couldn't relate to them at all, even though the issues were nominally interesting to me. I'm taking a wild guess that it has a pretty happy ending, too.
  • (5/5)
    I received this as a goodreads giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The development of the characters was excellent. They felt true and you end up having
    a lot of empathy for these characters. I highly recommend this book. I will definitely pass this book along to family and friends so they get a chance to read it.
  • (5/5)
    This is awesome book i love this book totally. A
  • (5/5)
    Grace grew to have a special place in my heart in this novel. She was so flawed and yet so real that I could relate so much to her reactions. I loved it from start to finish. thanks!
  • (5/5)
    My second or third reading of this beautiful book. This is a story worth reading.
  • (5/5)
    Such a page turner! Smart and poignant writing. A heartwarming story.
  • (5/5)
    Are you a woman who thought that children just weren't in your picture? I am one of those women, so when I read the synopsis of this Amy Hatvany book, I was immediately drawn to Grace's story and could not wait to start this one. Grace is a woman who falls in love with a man who has two children with his ex wife and as this won't spoil the book, the ex wife tragically dies and the children must move in full time to their dad's and Grace's new home.

    There are three voices that narrate this story - Grace, the ex-wife Kelli and the daughter Ava. Each have their own distinct voice and part of the story to share, but I think it was genius to include Ava's voice and perspective. Through Ava the reader is exposed to the moments before Kelli dies from a different view and then with her struggle to memorialize her mom, but her difficulty as she starts to like the new woman in her dad's life.

    Grace quickly becomes my favorite character as I see myself in her in a lot of ways. I put my career first above any maternal instincts. I don't think I would be a great mom and purely due to my selfishness, and I am finally ok with admitting it because it isn't a flaw it is the truth. I loved her struggle with loving this man, but finding herself in a different place than she ever imagined, it made me think.

    Amy Hatvany is officially one of my favorite authors and I will read everything she writes! Each book has been unique, with the theme of women at the heart of the story tackling issues that everyday women do on a daily basis.
  • (5/5)
    great story about love and relationships. a stepmother need not be wicked n selfish this novel shows that.but managing a relationship with kids thrown in suddenly is difficult and would probably take more time than what's written in this
    overall great book