This review is posted as part of TLC Book Tours blog tour
~ About the Book ~
Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.
Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.
When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.
But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.
Genre: General/Women’s Fiction
Release date: 1 May 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
~ Excerpt ~
Maybe it was best just to come right out and say it. She took a deep breath. “I’ve been doing some thinking since Aunt Mae’s funeral,” she said. “I want to have a baby for you.”
Waverly froze, a spoonful of cottage cheese and cantaloupe halfway to her mouth. “You what?” She put the spoon down very slowly, cottage cheese curds falling to the plate below.
“I want to have a baby for you,” Charlie repeated slowly and distinctly, as though Waverly were hard of hearing.
Waverly had gone very still. “Is this a joke?” she demanded, her tone indignant.
“No,” Charlie insisted, a little piqued that Waverly would think she would joke about such a serious matter. “I have two good ovaries, as far as I know. I might as well put them to use. I mean, we’ll have to get everything checked out medically, obviously, just to make sure everything’s in good working order. But if it is, I’ll carry a baby for you.”
Waverly just stared, unblinking, as though she’d been turned to stone. Her face was blanched of all color.
“Everything all right, girls?” Barbara stopped at their table. “I think word got out that you’re here. There’s a TV crew coming through the door.” She nodded toward the entrance.
Charlie glanced over to the door. Indeed, there were a cameraman and a reporter headed straight for them. The redhead in the fuchsia suit and holding a microphone looked slightly familiar, and in a moment Charlie placed her. Jessica Archer. Head cheerleader of the Cooksville Wildcats their senior year of high school. If Charlie recalled correctly, Jessica and Waverly had competed both for that position and for prom queen. Jessica won head cheerleader; Waverly was crowned queen. Neither had been particularly fond of defeat or of each other.
“Look sharp,” she murmured. “We’ve got company, and it’s a blast from the past.”
Waverly turned to see Jessica headed straight toward her, and in half a second she transformed, slipping instantly into her Simply Perfect persona. She straightened, brushing her hair back over her shoulder, and pasted on a gracious smile.
“We’re not done with this discussion,” she said through gritted teeth, her smile bright and unwavering. “And for the record, I think you’re crazy.” Then she turned to the approaching news crew with practiced ease.
Taken from “Becoming the Talbot Sisters” by Rachel Linden
Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Linden.
Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/
~ Review ~
This ended up being a different read than I thought it would be—but not necessarily in a bad way. Given the surrogacy storyline and the unforeseen danger mentioned in the description, I expected a more emotional and suspenseful read, but it didn’t turn out that way. The story makes a leisurely, albeit sombre beginning, introducing both Talbot sisters as they come together to mourn the aunt who raised them. The surrogacy arrangement is entered into, and the girls return to their separate lives, Waverly looking for ways to breath fresh life into her home-entertaining show, and Charlie returning to Budapest and her job providing reproductive health education in rural areas of Central Europe.
I wouldn’t say the story dragged in the first half, but it did take its time in the telling. And although the story was moving forward, it did so in relatively uneventful ways, with the exception of one or two notable incidents. All that is to say, it maintained my interest, but I didn’t feel as though I was emotionally invested in the characters and their choices.
My emotional engagement increased in the second half of the novel—largely due to the circumstances the sisters found themselves in—but I would still say I was more intrigued than hooked. There were a few surprises, but they weren’t jaw-droppers; more like, “That’s an interesting twist. I wonder where this will take the story.”
Overall, this was an enjoyable, and at times, thoughtful read, but not necessarily an emotional one, despite touching on subjects like surrogacy and sex trafficking. If you enjoy watching sisters reconnect in unusual circumstances or you’re looking for an interesting read you can still pick up and put down at will, this book will fit the bill nicely.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. She holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently, Rachel splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Budapest, Hungary where she lives with her husband and two children. Rachel enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.