Twenty-nine years ago Dorothy Hawks killed her abusive husband in self defense. The law took away her two young children and placed her in jail. When released, Dorothy began "S.O.S." (Society of Survivors) to help teach other women how they could protect themselves and their children.
Forty-nine year old Pam Garland is an abuse counselor and a major member of S.O.S. She often refers women to the organization. She has also been the legal guardian for MaryEmma and Shelley Gold since their abusive stepfather died years ago. Shelley had married an abusive man, Jack Wilson, and has a four-year-old daughter, Ariel. Ever since Jack died in a fire last year Shelley has been in depression. MaryEmma has taken over the role of caregiver to Ariel, hoping Shelley will get better. When disaster strikes, Pam has MaryEmma, Shelley, and Ariel pack quickly. They leave Springvale, Minnesota, without any notice to anyone. At MaryEmma's suggestion, they go to Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin, where MaryEmma spent the happiest time of her childhood (unknown to Pam).
Jordan Shasta was eleven when MaryEmma moved away from Falcon's Bend. He never forgot her or the stone garden she loved. Now the stone garden in his back yard is an overgrown mess. Jordan's wife, Kaitlyn, walked out last year without a backward glance and moved to Dallas, Texas. Jordan has sole custody of their eight-year-old daughter, Nicole. When MaryEmma moves in next door, Jordan hopes to get to know her again. Nicole hopes Ariel will become her new best friend. MaryEmma now seems withdrawn and keeps to herself, but Jordan is not above using the excuse of wanting to revive the stone garden to draw her out and spend some time with her. Shelley sleeps all day and parties most nights with numerous men. All the while, Pam is setting up a new S.O.S chapter in town and keeping her wards on short leashes. It soon becomes obvious that, unknown to Jordan when he was childhood friends with her, MaryEmma's life has been one long nightmare ... and it is not over yet.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS! Let me warn readers in advance that there two scenes of rape flash-backs. They are short, but I understand that some readers prefer to pass on books with any scenes at all. There is a lot of physical abuse throughout the story as well, but most are just mentioned in passing. I do not believe anything in this story will trigger anything for those who have physical abuse in their (real life) backgrounds.
That said, let me get to how much I enjoyed this story! Though there are two authors, I could never tell which parts were written by either. The duo must have the exact same writing style. There are a few sub-plots to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. I never found myself getting bored. The characters are well developed and I came to care for many of them. I look forward to more stories in Falcon's Bend. *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.