Jun 4 2013 3:30pm

First Look: Mary Kay Andrews’s Ladies’ Night (June 4, 2013)

Mary Kay Andrews
Ladies' Night
St. Martin's Press / June 4, 2013 / $26.99 print, $10.99 digital

Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool.  Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style.  Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal.  So is attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality.  When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday “Ladies' Night” sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined.  Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there? 

Heartache, humor, and a little bit of mystery come together in a story about life’s unpredictable twists and turns.  Mary Kay Andrews' Ladies' Night will have you raising a glass and cheering these characters on. 

Big blockbuster movies love to take an against all odds story to a happy ending for good reason. We can’t get enough of them. Ladies’ Night, the new release by Mary Kay Andrews, explores this premise to great advantage. With an authentic Florida backdrop—I definitely know now to avoid a Brazilian pepper tree—Ms. Andrews mixes women’s fiction and mystery with dollops of whimsy and wisdom.

Grace Staton has made a name for herself blogging about “her quest for a more beautiful life.” Her husband Ben, an advertising executive, saw the goldmine in her little musings, and maneuvered her success into a financial moneymaker. Because their builder’s wife was a big fan of Grace’s blog, they got an unbelievable deal on their home—a luxurious 6,5000 square-foot Spanish colonial in a gated-golf-course community in exchange for a banner ad. Ditto on all the expensive upgrades, like a landscaping, pool and spa and opulent master bath. Ben even bought himself an Audi Spyder R8 convertible with his bartering—shocking Grace, since he didn’t even mention that he was buying himself a $175,000 toy.

All of that comes to abrupt end after Grace discovers her clothes-less assistant J’Aimee and her husband Ben with his pants down in his prized convertible. In a fit of insanity, Grace chases away a naked J-Aimee, then burns her clothes and drives Ben’s car in the family pool.

After the altercation, Grace stupidly vacates the premises, not realizing that Ben will later vindictively deny her access to their joint checking account, her personal things, and steal her blog—putting J’Aimee in her place.

Not only is she now in a bitter skirmish with Ben, it seems that she drew the short straw in regards to the Justice System. The misogynist judge views Grace’s rash drowning of her husband’s convertible as a sign she is out of control. He decrees that she attend group divorce counseling with Dr. Talbott-Sinclair and refuses to make Ben turn over her blog.

Grace’s and the other members of the group—most of whom have appeared in the same judge's court and all of whom had a brief moment of insanity are indignant and bitter about the mandatory counseling but they are shocked by the group and the therapist.

What’s surreal is the fact that this group is all women.” Camryn said. This isn’t group therapy. It’s ladies night.”

“A really, really expensive ladies’ night,” Grace put in.

Grace meets the newest member of the group—not a woman—as he comes through the door thirty minutes late.

“Hey,” Wyatt Keller said, scowling at her. “I’m looking for Dr. Talbott-Sinclair?”

Grace nodded in the direction of the slumbering therapist. “You just found her.”

“Is this a joke?” Wyatt asked, narrowing his eyes.

Most of the characters are dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship. But that isn't their only challenge; Wyatt is worried about his young son, and his father’s slow decline. And Grace is just trying to earn a living. She starts a new, TrueGrace, but Ben—well, Grace never truly knew him, did she?

He took a step into the room. “l got a call this morning, from Anna Stribling, at Home Depot. It seems she had some ‘concerns,’ as she called them, about the originality of our material on Gracenotes.”

“Yes. She was specifically wondering if J’Aimee’s corn-crab chowder recipe was original. Because, she said, she’d had a disturbing e-mail from you, accusing us of stealing your material.”

Which you did. A blatant rip-off,” Grace said. “My photos, my recipe, my everything. And that what I told her.”

“But you don’t have any proof of that, do you?" Ben raised one eyebrow, amused.

“Because you hacked into my Web site and erased it. And put that filthy porn link on there,” Grace fairly spat the words at him.

“And you don’t have any proof of that either.” . . .

Ben towered over her –intimidation through proximity was his motto.

With any struggle, you need a helping hand, and sometimes that can come from unexpected places. After discovering a trashed Florida cracker rent house Grace impulsively offers the owner her expertise in renovating the home for free, if she can blog about it. Let Ben and J’Aimee copy that. But it is there that she finds her true sweetie:

“Heyyy,” Grace said softly, bending down to get a closer look. The dog leapt into her arms, and began lavishing her chin with a soft pink tongue.

“Oh, my God,” Grace said, holding the reeking animal at arm’s length. “You poor thing.” . . .

Pathetic, ain’t it? Arthur asked, standing behind her in the hallway. “She’d been locked up in this room, I don’t know how long, when I got over here this morning.”

You will definitely root for the characters as they overcome the obstacles and hurdles in their lives and move forward to new opportunities, and happiness.

Learn more about or order a copy of Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews, on sale today:

Buy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Leigh Davis, Blogger

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