Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half-sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one.
Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again
If Kristan isn't Irish she ought to be. She has an Irish storyteller's ability to balance on the knifepoint of laughter and tears. How do you find humor, love, laughter, and a happy ending in a novel that starts with death, desertion, and heartbreak? A wonderful accomplishment. Five stars.
On Second Thought.
The book opens with the sudden unexpected death of Kate’s husband, Nathan, and much of the novel follows her through the grieving process. What made you want to tackle the heavy themes and emotional complexities of this kind of story, and what were the greatest challenges you encountered during the writing process?
In a way, writing about a widow is an exorcism of one of my deepest and most ingrained fears—that my husband will die, and I’ll have to go through life without him. My mom is a widow and has been for almost 30 years—my father was killed by a drunk driver, so grief and I walk hand in hand. The challenge was to pull apart the threads of grief and see what else was there, too. Humor, secrets, strengths, regret…all that juicy stuff that makes life so interesting.
How did you balance the narrative between Kate and Ainsley?
Well, Kate’s storyline is obviously quite heart wrenching, even when there’s black humor infused into the scene. Ainsley’s issues are lighter and funnier, so I think they naturally balance each other. A huge part of the story is the sisters finding there’s more to each other than they ever knew. Since they have different moms, there’s already an intrinsic difference between them, and one of the things I liked best was the two of them finding out how much they have to offer each other.
I gotta tell you, Ainsley's issues are lighter and funnier only if you haven't been there. For me, they hurt more than Kate's story.
I adore the wit and humor that you infuse into all of your books, and On Second Thought is no exception. How do do you manage to find the right balance between the serious themes of the novel and some of its lighter moments?
I think humor and sorrow are different sides of the same coin, and they often happen at the same moment. Nathan’s wake was a scene that made me laugh writing one paragraph (when Kate is struggling with her Spanx while trying to look dignified), and cry the next…like when she looks at her husband in the open casket. I think finding and acknowledging those little moments and that balance are an intrinsic part of my work. I always think that if a reader doesn’t laugh out loud and cry real tears during one of my books, I haven’t done my job. I want each book to contain the whole range of experience, I guess.
You write both romance novels and women’s fiction, with On Second Thought falling into the latter category. Does your writing process change depending on what kind of book you’re working on, and do you prefer one genre over the other?
All my romances have had a lot of women’s fiction in them, and my women’s fiction has a lot of romance. The labels are really just a marketing tool, I think; my books have always been crossovers in both directions. The process is always the same—somewhat tortured, filled with self-doubt and second guessing, followed by that magical moment when I finally stumble in from the desert to the oasis, if you will. I’m working on another process, in which I can skip over the desert and dehydration parts and get right to the oasis and figs and stuff. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Thank you, Kristan,for being here. I already have Kristan's recipe for Her Gram's Hershey Bar Cake on my Recipe Tab
But here's another form her newsletter. I can't resist oatmeal cookies and I'll be trying this recipe.
KRISTAN'S WICKED AWESOME OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIESPreheat oven to 350 degrees; grease two cookie sheets.
12 tablespoons butter (1-1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
Cream together in mixer. Blend in:
2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In separate bowl, combine:
2/3 cup of flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Add to butter mixture and blend well. Then mix in with wooden spoon:
3-1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup golden raisins, softened in warm water, then drained
Using ice cream scoop and packing batter firmly, drop onto greased cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies.Bake for 15 minutes in 350 degree oven
On Second Thought? Remember an ARC is not the final published copy. You will find a few mistakes. If you are interested, please enter below.
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