by Emelle Gamble
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To their friends, Nick and Cathy Chance have the perfect marriage. High school sweethearts who’ve been together for ten years, they’ve weathered challenges and are as committed as they were when they first fell in love. Cathy trusts Nick, Nick’s world revolves around his wife, and the future looks golden.
To everyone who knows them, Cathy Chance and Roxanne Ruiz have a perfect friendship. They connected in grade school and since then have been each other’s confident and trusted advisor. Cathy loves the gorgeous Roxanne like a sister, Roxanne has fun-loving Cathy’s back in every situation, though lately there’s been tension between these two best friends…
And then, on a sunny summer morning, the unthinkable occurs, throwing into doubt the truth of what each of these people really know about themselves and one another.
Will Roxanne’s sacrifice be too little, and too late? Should Nick’s love for his wife be strong enough to risk trusting his heart more than logic? Can Cathy’s devotion to Nick give her enough strength to convince him to see her for who she really is?
Secret Sister proves how strong, how stubborn, and how trustworthy love can be as Nick and Cathy and Roxanne are challenged to overcome the secrets, the lies … and one extraordinary twist of fate that turns their lives upside down.
“May I sit down, Nick?”
I nodded. Roxanne sat at the table in the kitchen. Despite her appearance, she seemed in control. I felt her eyes on me as I poured myself a glass of water.
The kitchen was a mess. For a second I was embarrassed by the dirty dishes, the soured milk on the counter. Then I got a grip. This wasn’t a social call and Roxanne wasn’t someone I was trying to impress. Every time she walked into the room, she did so with an agenda.
I turned around. “Do you want something to drink?”
She shook her head.
I sat across from her. She was pinching the back of her hand, like Cathy used to do.
“What’s going on? What do you want from me?” I sounded angrier than I thought I was.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re fooling around with your hands exactly like Cathy always did. You never had that habit. Why are you doing stuff like that?”
“What else am I doing?”
“You’re wearing your hair pulled back in a ribbon, and clothes like my wife wore.” I pointed at her blouse. “And you’re acting weird with the cat, like she’s your cat, among other things. It’s freaking my sister out.”
Roxanne fidgeted. “That’s ridiculous,” she said, but her face revealed I’d hit a nerve…
Guest Post: Books belong to Readers, not authors….by Emelle Gamble
“How do you think Secret Sister ended?”
My dear friend Kathleen R. asked me this question a few weeks ago. I was surprised at her question, and my first thought was, ‘What do you mean, how do I think it ended? I know how it ended. I wrote it.’
But of course her question was brilliant, like most things she says are. And it got me thinking.
My opinion on how Secret Sister ends is just that, my opinion. I weaved hints, clues, and statements of fact throughout the 90,000 word novel. I ‘showed’, like all we authors try to do, what the various characters were thinking about the very strange situation Cathy and Nick Chance found themselves in. And my opinion is solidly based on my reading (and writing) of this contemporary ‘trading places’ romance.
But that doesn’t make me the final word, or ‘right’. About any of it.
Authors tell their story, and if we do it well, the ending themes and situations are clear and factually grounded in the incidents that make up the story. Yet, I knew this but may have forgotten it, readers bring themselves to every story. The novels we immerse ourselves in reflect back into us, illuminating each of our unique life experiences. They let us confirm, and question, our positions on life and love, and innocence and guilt, and on all the wonderful complexity of the human soul.
How many wonderful arguments have each of us had over the years about a particular character’s true motives or emotional make-up? I’ve had several heated ones in my critique group about New Yorker magazine short stories, books and numerous films…some of the most heated about characters in each of our books! “What do you mean he’s a sniveling weakling, I think this shows he’s empathetic,” I believe is an exact comment I uttered. Possibly more than once. (My male characters are very in touch with their feminine side. HA!)
The reviews about Secret Sister have certainly proven this to me…I have been shocked at readers judging the book as ‘intense’ or ‘painful’. I’ve loved that most find the plot really hooks them and they can’t figure out how it’s going to end. But I’ve also been unhappy that a few said they hated my characters ‘at one time or another’ when reading. How could they hate these folks, I wondered? Yes, they are flawed and make mistakes, and are a bit self-involved, but… Okay, I just read that and realize, yeah, readers could hate them. Some of the time (the author wrote hopefully).
But why did some readers love these guys, and others not? Of course, Kathleen R.’s comment is the answer. The words of the story touched something in each of the readers, something unique and wonderful in their memory or heart, something I may not have intended, but something real for that reader. And real for the reader is real.
Reading is a collaborative sport, and the author doesn’t get to complain about what a reader concludes. No matter what. So, as for the ending of Secret Sister?
One review on Goodreads and Amazon said, “The ending is not as neat as it appears, and you will find yourself asking “what if …”
This, in my somewhat shocked opinion as a writer, is a valid take away. It wasn’t consciously designed to be an ending open to interpretation. But I realize that, if I tell the honest truth, a case can be made for Secret Sister’s final scene to prove almost the opposite of what I intended.
Ahhh…the subconscious mind. All those experiences in my life, rising up and ambushing my good narrative intentions. Or, fulfilling them?
The bottom line is ‘Yay readers’. They get the final say what your book ‘means’. It is what the reading experience is really all about. Thank you, Kathleen R., for reminding me of this.
Praise for Secret Sister
“Along with being a very unique and captivating plot, SECRET SISTER offers a shocking turn of the paranormal kind. So if you are the type of person that wants ordinary romance in a book, you won’t find that here. This is a story of friendship, family, and most of all, true love and what those things can mean. I cannot recommend SECRET SISTER strongly enough… “ Fresh Fiction, Fresh Reviews
“If you’re looking for a typical women’s fiction/romance, don’t look here… this story has a twist of the paranormal that will have you willingly stretching your belief in order to enjoy the plot. Emelle Gamble has created a story that will tear your heart out.” Long and Short Reviews
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Emelle Gamble was a writer at an early age, bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection which evolved into bad teen poetry and took her first stab at full length fiction in an adult education writing class when her kids were in bed. As M.L. Gamble, she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin. She has contracted with Soul Mate Publishing for Secret Sister, summer of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, an early 2014 release.
Always intrigued by the words ‘what if’, Emelle’s books feature an ordinary woman confronted with an extraordinary situation. She most enjoys reading stories that surprise and amaze her, and hopes her readers will enjoy the challenging and exciting journeys her characters take.
Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband, Phil, her hero of thirty years, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. These girls, like all good villains, have their reasons for misbehaving. Her daughter, Olivia, and son, Allen, are happily launched on their own and contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.
FaceBook: Author Emelle Gamble