Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale starts during a funeral, which should have been a wedding. The wedding was supposed to be Amiee’s to her childhood sweetheart, James. But it’s his funeral. He was found dead on a business trip to Mexico. Amiee is inconsolable because James was her soul mate, her everything. Not the $200,000 plus dollars Thomas, James’s older brother (money that would have been Amiee’s if she married James) gives her can help her recover from the loss. Also her parents sold their restaurant Amiee expected to run when her parents retired. Amiee always dreamed of opening her own restaurant, while James would open his own art gallery. James always loved to paint, even though he had to hide it from his parents who had plans for him to run his family’s company. Then there is James’s cousin Phil, who makes Amiee very uncomfortable, not just because James never liked him and tried to steal Amiee from James, but something he did to Amiee that almost scarred her for life.
Amiee is having a hard time adjusting at losing James. It because worse when she’s approached by a female psychic who says James may still be alive. That really throws Amiee for a loop because if he’s alive, where is he and why wouldn’t he come back to her? Everyone around her she trusts says James is dead, so why would they lie to her. Eventually Amiee moves on with her life, even opening her own cafe. She meets an artist named Ian, who is fine with being friends with her, but she has a small attraction toward him. Even though James is dead, she is faithful to his memory, still wearing her engagement ring, and keeping all his clothes and things over a year later. But then strange things begin to happen. Some of James’s painting have gone missing, Thomas acts very strange, and the physic lurks around leaving postcards of paintings in James’s style around. Aimee feels like she is going crazy, so the only thing she can do to prove to herself is that James is indeed dead. She’ll go to Mexico and to the town he was last seen at alive.
Everything We Keep reads like women’s fiction with a mystery element because of the situation surrounding James’s death. The first half of the story is Aimee trying to move on from her deep loss. Through flashbacks we see how Aimee and James met as children, and then their friendship, which also includes James’s problems with his parents, and that of his cousin Phil who pops up to cause problems. The second half is Aimee solving the mystery of James’s disappearance. What she finds in Mexico should keep reader riveted, but it becomes one big soap opera of implausibility and convoluted storytelling. As Aimee investigate furthers, things become trippy regarding the outcome of James.
To explain what happened to James, and the why’s is a big spoiler and a twist, but not a good one. it comes down to deception, blackmail and possible murder that just doesn’t fit with the tone of the book. The reasons for things are eyebrow arching, as in, what in the world is going on? Aimee suffers because of it and doesn’t need to. We do feel her pain, but the answers and solutions given are weak and poorly executed. The character of Phil is meant to disgust and appall, but he’s a one-dimensional wallpaper mustache twirling caricature that will make you roll your eyes.
I did have a soft spot for Aimee, and her supportive friends. Even the men in her life, both James and Ian are well written. Unfortunately the plot and mystery of James and his death is laughable. Also the “prologue” leaves things open ended in a way that is a big if a manipulation to keep the reader interested in a second book, if there is indeed one.
Everything We Keep should have concentrated on a woman’s loss of a love one, and her emotional recovery, and then become empowered because of it. Instead we get a weak suspense mystery type chick lit novel that failed for this reader.