Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ARC Review: One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison

Pub. Date:July 26, 2016
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:336 pages

Man, its been SO long since I have read anything by Beth Harbison - I need to catch up on a back log. Seriously, Hope in a Jar and Shoe Addicts Anonymous are beloved favorites of mine. I will always remember that they were the first two books I read after I graduated from law school and actually had time to read for pleasure again. 

Beth Harbison's characters are always so relatable to me and she does a wonderful job at creating character connections. This story was no different as I was immediately drawn into Diana's plight from the first chapter. Diana thought she was marrying her perfect guy, only to learn that he was not the person she thought he was. At that point, she's in so deep and he has damaged her self-esteem so much, that she stays and puts up with his repetitive cheating and poor treatment. Oftentimes, this type of character will annoy me because I don't understand that mentality of staying in a bad relationship for the sake of whatever. However that didn't happen with Diana. I genuinely liked her and empathized with her situation.

Lief Tiesman, Diana's husband, is a sadistic SOB. From the time he was a child, he was torturing animals and his half-sister, Prinny. Now he tortures his wife, and probably any other female that he comes across. His ego is through the roof and he really cares about no one but himself. Needless to say, Lief was a disturbed individual and made a great villain for this story. He was one of those characters that you hope gets killed off in a most gruesome way.

Prinny is sweet, eccentric, and somewhat psychic. She was tormented by Lief her entire childhood and she never quite understood why... and he continues to torment her now as an adult. Luckily for Prinny, she has a buffer in the form of her attorney, on whom she has a major crush. Prinny runs a metaphysical shop and probably has her head in the clouds much of the time, but she was so nice and quirky that you can't help but like her character.

Chelsea is a struggling actress, and that struggle is starting to break her spirit. At 29 years old, she thought she would already be a star... not juggling two jobs in between auditions and memorizing lines. I wasn't quite sure of her purpose in the story, some of it seemed like filler. However, a tragedy occurs in the second half of the book that entwines her life more closely to Prinny and Diana. The seriousness of Chelsea's tragedy seemed a little glossed over to me - she recovered fairly easily and with minimal trauma. Though I think it fit with the story and I wasn't overly upset by that. I don't think, at that point of the story, I would have wanted to read a long drawn out account of recovery.

The book gives us an account of Lief's bad deeds from the time he was a teenager going forward. There are snippets of his bad acts that build your hatred of him as the story progresses. By the time I was a quarter into the story, I wanted to sock it to the loathsome Lief myself. But we see Diana, Prinny and Chelsea each deal with Lief on her own terms, while coming closer together as friends and co-workers. I think the story highlights the importance of maintaining a support group of friends and loved ones in your life... otherwise you end up isolated like Diana with no one to turn to when things go bad.

I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.