The House Guests by Emilie Richards
Published by MIRA ISBN 9780778331865
Trade paperback, $16.99, 544 pages
Although Emilie Richards has written over 70 books, The House Guests is the first one I have read. After finishing this wonderful novel, I will be reading more of them.
Savannah is a 15 year-old girl who is angry that her stepmother Cassie moved her from New York City to Tarpon Springs, Florida following the drowning death of her father. She blames Cassie for his death because she overheard them arguing before he left and went sailing in a storm and died.
Amber is a single mom raising her 16 year-old son Will in Cassie's hometown of Tarpon Springs. They have moved frequently because Amber is on the run from someone. She works as a waitress at a restaurant, and money is tight.
When Amber loses a small money pouch filled with her rent money, she and Will are evicted from their apartment. Savannah finds the money pouch, and in a bid to make new friends, throws a party at her stepmom's new home. The partygoers trash the home, and Cassie is at her wits' end what to do with Savannah.
Cassie discovers that Amber and Will have been evicted, and offers for them to move into her home. Amber is wary at first, but Will is a good student and athlete, and she wants to give him some stability after years of constantly being on the move.
Cassie and Amber become friendly, although Savannah is less than kind to Will. Cassie confides in Amber that her husband lied to her about many things, and spent most of their money with no explanation. The two women find strength and companionship in each other.
I really enjoyed the Greek restaurant that Cassie's family owned. As someone with previous restaurant experience, that setting, and her boisterous Greek family, were so interesting to me. Richards details there were so well drawn that I could see the restaurant in my mind's eye.
The House Guests drew me in from page one with characters I grew to care deeply about. Every good story has secrets (why is Amber on the run, and what was Cassie's husband hiding), and this had more than enough to keep me turning the pages to find the answers.
I highly recommend this moving story of female friendship and the family you create. I read it in one day because I did not want to put it down. I also did not want it to end. Maybe we'll meet Amber, Will, Cassie and Savannah in Tarpon Springs again. (Pretty please, Emilie Richards?)
Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on their Summer 2021 Mystery/Thriller Blogger Tour.