A White Picket Fence – Laura Branchflower


It’s very difficult to review a book like this! It’s wonderfully complicated, with greatly flawed characters and a magnificent plot.  Or I should say plots, because even though there’s a main plot that tugs at your heart, other side plots are interwoven and connected.  The main one involves adultery, in a couple that have been married for twenty-five years.  Lina and Phil have such a deep connection, such a deep love, that it’s unfathomable that such a thing happened but such are the consequences when the family goes through a crisis.  Their teenage middle daughter had gone through a hard year, first battling drugs, then battling a severe depression, and thanks to her latest psychiatrist, she was slowly coming out and becoming a healthy teenager again.  It was through this crisis that Lina’s and Phil’s connection broke and Phil found solace in another woman’s arms.  Many things happen at once.  Lina finds out about the affair and is heartbroken.  Lina finds herself attracted to her daughter’s psychiatrist, and he returns the feelings.  Phil ends his affair and finds that he has to battle for his wife’s fidelity.  Their daughter Katie is coming out of her shell and finding love in a boy, heavily tattooed, older by two years, singer in a rock band, and with no intentions of going to college.

Lina’s mother Alice had deep beliefs in astrology, and had warned Lina that she was in danger of adultery this year.  She had also prepared Lina’s and Phil’s astrological charts and they all knew they were cosmic soul mates.  It means that whenever one is going through a bad moment, the other one feels it and knows to go to the rescue.  During their lifelong love, Phil has rescued Lina many times, and this has made Lina very dependent on Phil.  Lina doesn’t feel safe if she doesn’t have Phil with her and this fear is stronger at night.  When they were teenagers, Lina went through a traumatic experience and it was Phil, with his psychic connection to Lina, who got there on time to rescue her.  Since then they have been inseparable until this crisis came upon them.

Lina depends a lot on Dr. Nick Drayton to talk things over.  Sometimes he talks to her like a doctor, other times like a friend.  But always like a man who is attracted to her.  Their lives become even more interwoven, because his son starts at the same school as Lina’s younger son Logan, and they both play lacrosse, so they strike a friendship and are together a lot.  I loved this character, he was at times very brainy, sometimes he went into psychiatrist mode even in social moments, but he was there for Lina every moment of her journey.  Even though he fell in love with her, he always kept a respectful distance because he knew she was in a very vulnerable situation.  Also, because he felt Lina’s deep connection with Phil.

Secondary characters are almost as important as the principals.  Lina’s mother is a strong influence in Lina, her sisters Adele and Shiloh, and Lina’s daughter Katie. She’s very open and liberal in her beliefs and installs in Katie a curiosity about astrology, which Phil abhors.  And yet, when Alice has broken sliding doors, Phil runs to fix them.  Lina’s family is very closely interwoven with Phil’s family. And Lina’s best friend is the wife of Phil’s partner in their law firm.  So when the marriage wobbles, everyone in their world is affected.  Lina has to walk a very difficult path in finding herself and deciding how to proceed in this new situation she finds herself.  She has all these many insecurities and this strong love for her husband.  She’s trying to find a balance, a way out to balance her hate / love feelings for her husband, but the other woman finds ways to shake their foundation.

I found Lina so human, so good, so wonderfully flawed.  And Phil is shown in the beginning to be a self-righteous douche.  Yet, as the story develops, you find that, even with his very visible defects, he’s a man who accepts his mistake, makes penance, and has very strong convictions which translate to some rigidity in their family rules.  Yet, Lina finds the strength of character to go against Phil’s rigidity and tempers it.  His devotion and love for Lina shines throughout all the book, his repentance and his total acceptance of his culpability.  I think that was his strong suit, that he stayed strong and protective and at Lina’s bidding and even though he was fighting for his marriage, he respected Lina’s need for space.  His dealings with their children were also heartfelt.  He was very strong and center at their lives, and they even complained that he was more involved now in the middle of the crisis than before.

There was a parallel plot going on with Lina’s and Phil’s marriage troubles.  It was like a separate but connected YA novel, involving Katie and Matt.  Katie had to deal with her parent’s close supervision due to her past psychological problems, and with the crush she was feeling for Matt.  She dabbled a little bit in white magic and tried to cast a love spell to Matt.  Then when he shows interest, she frets that it was due to the spell and not real feelings.  Just like a teen!

This was a book with a very wonderful convoluted plot and strong feelings.  My heart actually hurt at times with Lina.  I loved her fights with Phil because she never went for the jugular, she was just stating her hurt, her feeling of betrayal, her confusion, tried to make Phil understand her feelings and her need of space.  This is one of those books that leave you feeling and thinking for a while afterwards.



About Luisa Rivas-Martinez

Newly retired, lover of romance novels. I've been reading since early childhood, loved those fantasy tales with Princes and Princesses. As I grew, my love for romance blossomed into romance novels, beginning with Harlequin romances. I hope that through this page, I can share my experience and joy on reading my romance novels and make friends.
This entry was posted in ARC sent by author, Contemporary. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *