Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Divorce Planner


The Divorce Planner
Angela Lam
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: May 20th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
When her daughter suggests Darcy Madison attend her ex-husband’s wedding, Darcy enlists the help of her colleague, divorce attorney Victor Costello, to pose as her dashing young date. But when Victor proposes to Darcy at the reception, Darcy forgets they are pretending and says, “Yes!” Between her false engagement to Victor and her daughter’s suggestion to have a double wedding, Darcy falls even further in the fantasy of being a blushing midlife bride. The longer the masquerade continues, the more Darcy starts to wonder what is love and can it last forever in a world where divorce is the only language she knows?
EXCERPT:
“Are you leaving?” He stood.
“Yes.” A flash of disappointment descended over her shoulders. “I think I’ll go.”
“Let me walk you to your car.”
“But you’ll miss the live auction and the dancing.”
He offered his arm. “I’d rather spend the time with you.”
A touch of kinship united them.
She wove her arm through his. How delightful to find someone who enjoyed her company as much as she enjoyed his.
Matching strides, they walked around the tables of guests. A few people stopped them to comment on how cute a couple they made.
She blushed from the compliments.
He nudged open the double doors.
A gust of cool summer air blasted against her face. She shivered.
He tugged her closer. “Would you like my jacket?”
“No, thank you. I’m parked over there.” She waved toward the left.
They strode over to an ancient sports sedan.
Darcy unlocked her door and tossed her clutch inside. As she turned to say good night, she trembled with anticipation. Would he kiss her again?
Standing in silence, he gazed into her eyes.
A flicker of desire lapped at her feet and licked up into her belly. She had never seen eyes so big, so bold, and so beautiful. Oh, why wouldn’t he kiss her?


Author Bio:
Angela is a San Francisco Bay Area native.
She studied journalism at Northwestern University as a Cherub scholar. She received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Sonoma State University.
Her nonfiction articles on real estate, lending, and finance can be found online at SFGate.com. Her short stories, essays, and poetry are published in a number of magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including The Dollar Stretcher, Foliate Oak , Kenwood Press, The Phoenix, Potpourri, The Sun, The Writer, and Women’s Voices.
When she is not writing, she is either painting, reading, running, or spending time with her family and friends.
Thanks for stopping by today. Have you ever had a pretend boyfriend or girlfriend go with you to an event? Is there anyone else who automatically hears Tammy Wynette singing D-I-V-O-R-C-E when they see or hear the word divorce?

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

What We Do For Love


What We Do For Love
Anne Pfeffer
Publication date: May 21st 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Thirty-eight year old Nicole Adams has given up on finding love. Instead, the single mother focuses on the things she cherishes most—her sixteen-year old son Justin, her friends, and her art.
When she convinces a prominent Los Angeles museum to feature a piece of her work, a large-scale installation, she thinks her life has finally turned a corner.
Then Justin brings a girl, Daniela, home to live with them. Daniela’s angry parents have thrown her out of the house, because she’s pregnant with Justin’s child. Shattered, Nicole takes Daniela in and, in so doing, is drawn into the inner circle of Daniela’s family—a frightening world of deceit and violence.
Nicole struggles to keep life going as normal. Forced to deal with people she doesn’t trust or like, fearful for the future of both her son and the grandchild they’re expecting, Nicole wonders if she can do what she tells Justin to do: always have faith in yourself and do the right thing.

What We Do for Love won the Chick Lit category of the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and finalist for Best Cover Design/Fiction!
EXCERPT:
From Chapter Four. Justin and Daniela have told Nicole that Daniela cannot return to her own home, but Nicole is nonetheless trying to reach Daniela’s parents.
##
By nine o’clock, Daniela’s parents still hadn’t called back.
Justin gave me a pointed look. Told you so.
Shocked by the apparent indifference of these people, I asked, “How do they know you’re safe? You could be camping under the freeway right now.”
Daniela’s voice quavered. “I’m sure they think I’m fine.” The sadness in her voice tore me up.
“They’ve got to be worried.” The tiny crack in my mind had widened just a bit, and a tremor of … something ran through me… a premonition, maybe? Or maybe just nerves. “Even if you’ve had a disagreement, they still love you. They’re your parents.”
“They’re not worried.”
I tried to keep my tone brisk and matter-of-fact. “If that’s the case, then of course you must stay tonight!”
“Thank you,” Daniela whispered. At my request, she dialed her phone again and handed it to me. I left another message.
“Hello, Viviana. This is Nicole again. Since I haven’t been able to reach you, Daniela will stay the night here, in a separate room from my son. I’ll make sure she gets to school on time tomorrow. Please feel free to call me.” I left my phone number again, feeling my temper rise as I thought of what these parents had done tonight.
“So,” I said, “let’s get ready for bed!” I kept my voice bright and chipper. “Justin, will you move your sheets out onto the sofa? I’ll put some fresh ones on your bed for Daniela.”
By comparison to Justin’s male friends, whose presence resounded through the house like a herd of elephants, Daniela was almost ghost-like, blending into the background and whispery quiet. And eager to please.
“Let me put the sheets on,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to do that.”
“All right, thanks.” I found her an unused toothbrush and an old t-shirt of mine to sleep in. “And here’s a clean towel.”
Justin’s small bedroom still had its blue plaid wallpaper. The bedspread had borne pictures of teddy bears until he revolted in his freshman year of high school, requesting a plain blue comforter. Justin’s stuff filled every corner, covered every surface: music posters, two guitars and a drum, his bicycle, a debate trophy, comic books, and books with art or math and logic puzzles.
“Thank you again.” Daniela drooped as she sat down on the bed.
“Are you all right, honey?” I sat down next to her. “Do you want to tell me a little more about what’s going on?”
The two dogs galumphed into the room just as Justin’s tall, lean frame appeared in the doorway, dressed in the sweatpants and t-shirt he wore to bed. Midge and Margo rushed the twin bed, trying to climb aboard, but I pushed them gently down onto the rug. I put my arm around Daniela as she shuddered and the tears started to fall. She gripped her hands together tightly. “I did something… that my parents didn’t like. My dad especially.”
Justin fastened his gaze on her as she spoke. His bleak eyes reminded me of the time he’d found a dead baby rabbit in the swimming pool. My throat suddenly felt dry, and a chill ran over me despite the balmy evening air.
“My mom would forgive me, but Dad won’t let me live at home anymore.”
“I’m sure he’ll reconsider. You know, once he cools off.” What could this girl have done? Totalled the family car? Burned down the house?
Could she be…?
No way… I wouldn’t permit myself to have the thought. She’s only sixteen.
Justin spoke up, his voice harsh in the silence. “We have to tell her, Daniela.”
Up until now I’d thought, or kidded myself, that Justin was only helping a girl with a problem. Now, the fear arose that it might be Justin’s problem, too.
I held my breath.
“Daniela’s pregnant,” Justin said. “And I’m the father.”


Author Bio:
Hi! I grew up in the desert around Phoenix, Arizona, where I had a bay quarter horse named Dolly. If I wasn't riding, I was holed up somewhere reading Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Oz books or, later on, Jane Eyre and The Grapes of Wrath. Horses eventually faded as an interest, but I ended up with a lifelong love of books and reading.
After college and eight years of living in cold places like Chicago and New York, I escaped back to the land of sunshine. I now live in California, one mile from the Pacific Ocean, with my dachshund Taco. I have worked in banking and as a pro bono attorney, doing adoptions and guardianships for abandoned children.
As a writer, I'd always been interested in children's books, since they had meant so much to me as a kid. I've found I especially like writing books about teens and twenty-somethings, an age where you make so many decisions about who you are and how you want to spend your life.
I love hearing from readers, so please write to me any time at my website www.annepfeffer.com.
Thanks for stopping by today. Have you ever give real thought to what we do for love or what we would do for love?

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Yankee Widow


I’m delighted to be a part of the blog tour for #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller’s novel THE YANKEE WIDOW (MIRA Hardcover; May 7, 2019; $26.99), a richly layered, multi-generational saga set during the Civil War. 

This evocative and richly researched novel draws from dramatic story of Caroline Hammond, the young widow of Corporal Jacob Hammond, as she takes on the sole responsibility of the family farm that lies just at the edge of the town of Gettysburg. Keeping his promise to look after the farm and keep Caroline and her daughter Rachel safe if Jacob does not return from battle is Enoch Flynn, a hired former slave who has worked for the Hammonds for years and mourns Jacob as a brother.

As horrific fighting erupts on her doorstep, the vagaries of war put Caroline’s homestead in the direct path of a dedicated Union soldier and a passionate Southern rebel. Both are seeking shelter at the farm and each is loyal to his side. As the intensity of one of the pivotal battles of the war comes to a climax, Caroline will do what it takes to protect her daughter, their home, and to help the Union Army that her husband gave his life to.

THE YANKEE WIDOW is a story of sacrifice, loyalty, love, and hope set against the backdrop of the most critical juncture in American history.

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Linda Lael Miller
The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a spacious property outside Spokane.

Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she sold Fletcher's Woman in 1983 to Pocket Books. Since then, Linda has successfully published historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, mysteries and thrillers before coming home, in a literal sense, and concentrating on novels with a Western flavor. For her devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded her their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Long a passionate Civil War buff, Linda has studied the era avidly for almost thirty years. She has read literally hundreds of books on the subject, explored numerous battlegrounds and made many visits to her favorite, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where she has witnessed re-enactments of the legendary clash between North and South. Linda explores that turbulent time in The Yankee Widow, a May 7, 2019 MIRA Books hardcover, also available in digital and audiobook formats.

Dedicated to helping others, "The First Lady of the West" personally financed fifteen years of her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, which she awarded to women 25 years and older who were seeking to improve their lot in life through education. She anticipates that her next charitable endeavors will benefit four-legged critters.

More information about Linda and her novels is available at www.lindalaelmiller.com

Thanks for stopping by today. Are you a fan of Civil War themed books? What is it that draws you to this era in books?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Little Teashop on Main


I’m always thrilled to have author Jodi Thomas visit Thoughts in Progress because I know it means she has a new story to share with us. I may be a coffee lover, but Jodi’s newest release, THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN, is a delightful read and could bring back memories of your childhood.  

The Little Teashop Main
by Jodi Thomas
May 7, 2019
Trade paperback original
HQN • 384 pages
ISBN 978-1-335-00581-6
$15.99 U.S./$19.99 CAN

THREE WOMEN. THREE LIVES. ONE UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY.

A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives.
          Blonde, curly-haired Zoe is openhearted, kind and free-spirited, and dreams of becoming a famous actor in New York City. Shy Emily struggles with mental health but has the heart and soul of a writer. And Shannon—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty that will serve her well when she heads off to military college.
          As Zoe, Emily and Shannon grow into women— forging careers, following dreams and finding love—they’ll learn that life doesn’t always unfold the way they want it to, but through it all, the one constant is each other, and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls must come together to face the greatest test of all.

A deeply moving novel about the family that raises us, the hearts that nurture us and the great friendships that define our lives.

Jodi’s earlier book, MORNINGS ON MAIN, (which was released last April) has been nominated for a RITA award, and Jodi will know the results in July. That is exciting because Laurel Springs is the location of both books, and the teashop in her new book is located down the street from the quilt shop in MORNINGS ON MAIN

You will love Jodi's latest story about friendships that develop between three girls who grow into young women and their regular tea parties. Jodi said that this book is a story of friendship so deep it lasts a lifetime, and a man strong enough to care profoundly about three women...loving one, befriending one, and protecting one.

So, walk with Jodi through Laurel Springs and get to know her people. She promises if you stay a while, when you close the book and leave her little town in Texas, you'll smile!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jodi or her writing, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Jodi Thomas
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Jodi traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.  

With a degree in family studies, Jodi is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jodi enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she served as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Jodi said, “When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel, Jodi enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.  For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at www.jodithomas.com.

Thanks for stopping by today. Did you enjoy having tea parties when you were young? Are you still in touch with those you had tea parties with?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Cover Reveal …... Making Up


It’s a pleasure to share the cover reveal for the new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting – MAKING UP.

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.
Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.
As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

For more on this tantalizing story, check out the Landing Page at Macmillan.

Author Helena Hunting
For those not familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats.

She's writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

For more on Helena and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by today. What would you do if you were put in charge of buying gag gifts from an adult toy store for an event – buy online or in store?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Good Enough Mother


I’m delighted today to share a fascinating new book with you by author Bev Thomas that hits bookstores today. What happens when an experienced therapist starts breaking all her own rules? This is the fascinating question at the core of A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER (Pamela Dorman Books / Viking; On Sale: April 30, 2019) – a powerful debut novel about motherhood, grief, and obsession set inside the secret world of therapist and patient.

Ruth Hartland is an experienced therapist at the top of her game. The director of a renowned psychiatric unit for trauma victims, she is wise, intelligent, successful, and respected by her peers. But her calm professional demeanor belies a personal life full of secrets and sadness.
The mother of grown twins, she is haunted by the fact that her son Tom, a beautiful but fragile boy who could never seem to fit in, disappeared eighteen months ago. So, when Dan—a volatile new patient bearing an eerie resemblance to Tom—wanders into her waiting room, it’s not long before her judgment becomes clouded, boundaries are crossed, and disaster ensues.

Bev’s debut novel is a powerful page-turner about motherhood, grief, obsession, and the importance of letting go.

A clinical psychologist herself, author Bev Thomas has in-depth knowledge of therapy and mental health and takes readers inside Ruth’s head with rich detail and realism. Who among us hasn’t wondered what goes on in the private thoughts and life of a therapist? What is it like to be a sounding board for someone else’s troubles—and how do you deal with your own demons in the meantime?

A deeply compelling narrator, Ruth is poised on the outside but troubled within, incapable of moving on, fixated on how she failed her son and whether he can be found. With her family in pieces and her marriage crumbling, Ruth finds this new patient Dan is both a balm and a landmine—he is clearly unstable and manipulative, but he is also the shadow son she might actually be able to save. As Ruth twists herself into knots about her duties as a mother and a therapist, she becomes frantic and reckless, events spiral out of control, and her once calm and orderly life is violently disrupted.

A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER will have readers on the edge of their seats, but it is also a brilliant, beautiful story of parenting, of how love consumes us and how difficult it is to heal from tragedy, even when we must.

Here’s a conversation with Bev.

The protagonist of A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER is Ruth Hartland, an experienced therapist who specializes in helping trauma victims. You were also a clinical psychologist for many years and have an in-depth understanding of this world. What made you want to explore the patient-therapist relationship in fiction and how did your real-life experiences inform the novel?

Bev:
In my work, I had always been very interested in grief and loss – powerful emotions that not only underpin the human condition, but frequently find their way into the therapy room. But I was initially reluctant to explore the therapeutic world in fiction, as I didn’t want the focus to be on a patient. It was only when I flipped the concept and made the protagonist a flawed therapist instead, that the story began to emerge. What if a brilliant therapist is blindsided by feelings of grief about her own missing son? What if one of her new patients reminds her of him? And so the story began. 

All the detail around the case work is fictionalized, but the world is real. The workings of a National Health Service [NHS] department, the therapy work, and the understanding and treatment of psychological difficulties are very much drawn from my experience of working as a clinical psychologist in the public sector.

How do you feel about the way therapy is typically depicted in popular culture, including books, movies, and television shows? And why do you think people are so consistently fascinated with this subject?

Bev:
I find that in popular culture, therapy is often used as a plot device rather than something to be explored in its own right. There are many different types of therapy, but since my training was in the psychoanalytic model, it was this area that I wanted to explore in greater depth in fiction. It places emphasis on the transference, the relationship between therapist and patient, and the importance of boundaries, and these are the elements that get played out in Ruth’s story. 

Therapy is about enabling a person to make sense of their own life story. I think the general fascination with therapy in the media is partly because it’s such a private world: just two people talking in a room. There’s both an intimacy and secrecy to that relationship. In my book, people come to therapy feeling desperate, and hope their lives will change for the better. By opening a window into this world, the reader becomes a fly on the wall, and by seeing it all through Ruth’s point of view, the reader is simultaneously party to, and full of, her anxieties and struggles. People are endlessly fascinated and intrigued about other people’s lives, but I believe it’s more than just curiosity. I think people want to ‘listen in’ to learn about what makes people tick, in order perhaps to apply that learning and wisdom to their own lives.

There is clearly an appetite for this subject matter. Among recent works of nonfiction, there is the brilliant An Examined Life by the psychotherapist Stephen Grosz, where he writes beautiful case study vignettes. They read like perfect short stories that teach us about life, love, emotions and relationships. On television, the series In Treatment with Gabriel Byrne was an excellent portrayal of the complexities of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER is also, as the title suggests, about the responsibilities and challenges of motherhood. Why did you choose to ground the novel in Ruth’s role as a mother and in her relationships with her children—and were there particular themes or issues you hoped to explore?

Bev: 
In my clinical work, I became particularly interested in attachment theory, and how this can affect the relationship between a mother and child. The title is taken from the writings of Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst. It refers to the necessary progressive detachment of a mother to her child, so that the child is able to develop appropriate independence. The aim is for something less than perfect, not all encompassing, enabling a child to learn to thrive. In the book, the irony for Ruth is that, despite her best intentions, it is her own difficulties in separating from her son that contribute to his problems. 

Attachment and mothering are key themes in the book, reflected in the relationship between Ruth and her mother, Ruth and her son Tom, and also what we come to learn about the relationship between Dan and his mother. We also see how patterns can unintentionally be repeated through the generations. And in making Ruth the mother of twins, I wanted to help the reader to see differences in the way she parents her two children. Carolyn, as the overtly less ‘needy’ child, gets much less attention and focus, which clearly affects their relationship.

I think the book highlights a general tendency towards ‘over parenting’ and perhaps taps into the maternal anxiety of our generation. We are bombarded with messages that encourage perfection, success, and the emotional happiness of our children. And while we of course need to offer love and support to our kids, we also need to know when to stand back and let them find their own way, however painful that might be. 

Because of your background, you already had firsthand knowledge of psychological therapy and psychoanalytic theory before beginning this book. But you did do some additional research while writing. Can you talk a little bit abot what that process looked like, and what you learned more about?

Bev:
I did further research into the psychology of trauma. It was something I had encountered in my clinical work, but I was able to deepen this understanding through research, particularly into the psychoanalytic understanding and treatment of trauma. I came to appreciate the difficult and enormously valuable work done by therapists who treat the survivors of awful tragedies and traumas. We might read those stories on the front page of the paper, or see them on the evening news, but we don’t always think about how those people go on to live their lives after experiencing such terrible events. While Ruth is a flawed character, I hope readers will gain an insight into the psychoanalytic model of therapy and the extraordinary work done by skilled therapists in this field.

I also did further research into missing persons. I was appalled by the statistics of young people and adults that go missing every year.  My research focused on the lives of families and loved ones who are left in an awful limbo, a state that has been described as an ‘ambiguous loss’—a particularly painful psychological experience that is punctuated by hope, uncertainty, and a lack of closure.

From the first introduction of Dan—Ruth’s new patient who bears a striking resemblance to her missing son—it is clear that he is damaged and manipulative. Yet Ruth is drawn to him all the same, and the reader must wait with bated breath to see just how bad things get. How did you go about building suspense, and were you inspired by any other novels or films?

Bev:
I probably spent an inordinate amount of time on the opening chapter! It really needed to set up the book, revealing simultaneously both the risk and the inevitability of Ruth’s choice to continue seeing this patient. The reader needs to know it’s unwise, but also to understand the pull. In the book, the two parallel stories of Dan and Tom are interwoven. In each strand, there are important questions to which the reader wants answers, and it is the slow and steady revelations that build suspense, continuing until the narratives collide and come to a climax at the same time.

Unsurprisingly, I’m drawn to books and film that explore psychological and emotional complexities. One film that gets a mention in the book is Ordinary People, which is an extraordinary film about the aftermath of grief and loss in a family. I am endlessly fascinated about why people do the things they do.  The books and films I enjoy the most are often about ordinary people’s lives. The dynamics of family life are steeped in conflict and tension and encapsulate huge drama.

One of the fundamentals for me in writing this book was to ensure the characters make ‘psychological sense’.  I wanted the reader to really believe in them as characters; back stories, motivations, emotions and subsequent behaviors had to be believable and true. 

In many ways, Ruth represents the archetype of the “wounded healer.” Can you expand on that idea a little further, and what it means in the world of this book?  

Bev:
The “wounded healer” was a term originally created by the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung. It refers to the idea that analysts are compelled to treat patients because they themselves are ‘wounded.’  

Many people in the caring professions come to the work because they are interested in it, but also perhaps because they have also had difficult personal experiences.  Therapists, just like all people, deal with the complexities of emotional and family life, and this can often add, rather than detract, from ability to do a good job.

As is highlighted in the book, however, a problem arises if work becomes a way of trying to heal a personal problem. For Ruth, helping and fixing was something that was rooted in her complicated childhood. She was the child of an alcoholic, and after her father left her family, she was the sole caretaker of a mother who was volatile and inconsistent. Undoubtedly, this life experience played a part in her decision to train as a therapist – and probably contributed to her being an extremely good one.

Yet, it is her more recent, current grief for her missing son that is her undoing. She is ‘wounded’ by this trauma, so at the very time she needs to be pulling back, she sinks in deeper, and Dan becomes a focus of her feelings of grief and despair. 

Therapists are not immune from the tragedies of life, and support and supervision are essential to ensure that their work is not compromised by their personal lives. In the book, Ruth has a supervisor, but she is not honest with him, hiding crucial information because she knows exactly what he would say if he knew the truth. She fails to practice what she preaches. 

Without giving too much away, A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER culminates in a terrible act of violence. But the book doesn’t end there, and instead shows the characters working through the aftermath—confusion, grief, penance, acceptance. Why was it important to you to examine the effects of trauma and to grapple with the toll that this violence takes on the characters?

Bev: 
There is a multilayered aspect to the book, as I wanted to create mirroring between the emotional experiences of the characters. We see how Ruth’s childhood feeling of suffocation and lack of individuation at the hands of her mother is mirrored in her relationship with her son. We also see how her unresolved trauma regarding the disappearance of Tom draws her inexorably to Dan, as she’s compelled to try to find a way to ‘fix’ him, in a way she has failed to do with Tom. Dan was looking for a mother; she was looking for a son. It was a perfect storm. Interweaving these stories was fundamental to the plot, but I also wanted to make sure the emotional fallout following the tragedy was similarly multilayered. It couldn’t be a clearcut line of blame and responsibility that would fall at the door of one person – life very rarely works that way. It felt important to show the subsequent emotional unravelling in all its complexity.

What do you hope readers take away from A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER?

Author Bev Thomas
Bev:
First and foremost, it’s a book of fiction, and so I hope they enjoy it and find the narrative thought-provoking. But I also hope they learn something new about the model of therapy, and the fact that you don’t need to be in a therapy room to find the concepts useful. I hope people will take away the value of acknowledging and experiencing our feelings. While Ruth thinks she is in control of her world, she is in denial about the strength of her deep feelings of grief and loss. But these feelings seep out. While there’s no instant ‘cure’ for such feelings, talking and connecting with them is essential. Ruth’s state of denial involves the suppression of feeling and that is what causes problems. 

I’ve worked in the NHS for many years, and currently work with staff teams in mental health services. On a daily basis I work in a system that is stretched and under-resourced. Mental health problems are increasing and services to support people are decreasing. It was my aim to highlight this pressure in the book. In one chapter, when Ruth works with a traumatized staff team, we see firsthand the tragic impact of the unavailability of in-patient beds for a desperately unwell patient. Services for mental health patients are shockingly underfunded and as a patient group, they are often disenfranchised and without voice and power to demand better services. One in four people will be affected by a mental health problem in their lives regardless of culture and social class, so this is an issue we should all be paying attention to. In particular, the book highlights adolescent mental health issues and so I hope it will draw attention to our responsibility for the youngest and most vulnerable in our society.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Bev Thomas was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for many years. She currently works as an organizational consultant in mental health and other services.

She lives in London with her family.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. So, what are your thoughts about a therapist that starts breaking all her own rules? Do you think there are certain times and circumstances that allow that?