And Then There Was Her – Tagan Shepard

Madison, a ceramic artist, would love to dedicate herself to her art full time instead of juggling jobs. So when her chef girlfriend Kacey lands a job at an exclusive winery in Oregon that includes the use of one of the cottages on the property, Madison can’t believe her luck. A former party girl, she finds herself loving the quiet and beauty of the Oregon mountains. Kacey, on the other hand, though delighted with the opportunity to create her own restaurant, from decor to dishes, misses the excitement of the city. The couple doesn’t seem to manage to get on the same wavelength and Madison feels more and more lonely and more and more intrigued by the winery’s mysterious and aloof owner, CS.

For the longest time, I didn’t know what to think of this story. If I look at my notes, they’re mainly about how unsettling it was. I had a really hard time getting into it, mostly because I couldn’t figure out the relationship between Madison and Kacey. They seemed to be going from absolute love and lust to utter annoyance in a flash. I couldn’t get a sense of who the characters were for the first 90 pages or so.

So at first, I thought I didn’t like it. There was something, however, that compelled me to keep reading.

I really enjoyed Shepard’s previous book, Across the Dark Horizon, and am hoping for time to read her older ones soon but And Then There Was Her didn’t work for me. It didn’t not work for me either, I never thought about not reading to the end but neither did it engage me, despite some really beautiful sentences and descriptions. I liked Madison well enough, disliked Kacey, learned to know CS but never managed to relate to any of them. I was never bored and never blown away.

I also have to consider that maybe the timing put this book at a disadvantage, since I have been much more focused on the news and the COVID-19 crisis than on my reading. We’re in lockdown right now and I’m lucky to not be in a small flat in a city but rather in a nice house by the sea, but even in the best conditions, these are worrisome times. As we wait for life to resume ASAP, I’m hoping I’ll manage to go back to losing myself in books and escaping as I usually do.

3 stars

And Then There Was Her @ Bella Books

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