Book Reviews

Covet by Tracey Garvis-Graves

13481759[1]What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room.  Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross. (Goodreads)

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. I absolutely loved On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves and once I am dialed into an author, I have to devour everything they write. In the music world a “sophomore” album is nerve-wracking because fans, producers and media want to see if the musician has staying power. It’s even more challenging when the first album is so wonderfully received. I feel it is the same with new authors and I dislike it when people compare one book to another in an author’s repertoire. I appreciate and gladly welcome authors to write different stories and not jump on the sequel bandwagon. And this is why I love Tracey Garvis-Graves. Covet is nothing like On The Island and I was pleasantly surprised. She does, however, explore challenging topics with honesty and takes the reader on a journey to get to know the people/characters behind the “controversy” and possibly put their pre-conceived notions aside. With On The Island it was the age difference between T.J. and Anna and that he was a student and she a teacher. In Covet, the topic is adultery and marriages falling apart. Don’t let it deter you…it isn’t what you think.

Of course, I can’t give anything away. That wouldn’t be fun for the reader, right? So I’ll tell you instead what the book IS about. Some readers felt it was a bit boring. I disagree completely. Tracey Garvis-Graves perfectly paints the picture of the typical suburban (dare I say mundane) life. Mundane in the sense of the day in, day-out routine of: making three squares a day, doing laundry, entertaining the kiddos, breaking up fights, playing nurse, dealing with neighbors, paying bills, making treats for the bake sale, housework, errands…you know, all the stuff that wear you out body and mind. Then you have to still find the time to keep your marriage alive, keep yourself healthy and not become “one of those couples”. That excitement you felt for your spouse when you first met  and started dating gets buried by all the responsibilities and although you are exhausted and want to lie down with a good book you are craving some excitement because, hey, you are not dead yet! Sound familiar to anyone?

But Claire and Chris Canton don’t have the luxury of just the typical suburban life to deal with. They have been hit by the recession and now have to deal with unemployment, financial woes, depression, healthcare and the new demanding work schedule of Chris in a new job, where he is never home to help Claire and be the kind of father and husband he craves. This felt very real to me because I have seen numerous friends and family go through the exact same tragedy and it feels like quicksand. Asking for help is also not always an option because more people than you think are going through something similar. The grass is definitely not always greener. You never, ever know what is going on in someone’s house even if they post beautiful family posed pictures on Facebook and appear to have it all together.

Tracey Garvis-Graves’ writing is straightforward and feels like sitting down with a good friend. I love that she doesn’t create tormented characters. I have read too many of those books lately (see my book wish list here). She doesn’t pull any punches, though, and lets Claire and Daniel’s story play out and you keep asking yourself, are they going to go there and cross the line?

“Maybe that’s how it starts. You stumble upon something that helps you cope, fills a void. Makes you feel something different than what you currently feel. You know in the long run it probably won’t be good for you, but you do it anyway. Tell yourself you can handle it. And before you know it you’re in so deep that you can’t find your way back out.”

As a reader you are torn, like Claire, with the feeling of being lost and wanting so desperately to have someone to talk to, be with, appreciate you, while at the same time feel bad for Chris as he works so hard to pull his family out of the recession slump. The flashbacks to Claire and Chris dating and early on in their marriage were great snapshots of what was worth fighting for.

Someone once told me (I can’t really say who-she would kill me) about her views on marriage and divorce. She has been married for almost fifty years and honestly told me that is was not all wonderful and perfect. There were some very difficult years (similar to Covet) and admitted it would have been easier to give up and get a divorce. It didn’t make sense to me at the time because I am a product of divorced parents and there was nothing “easy” about it. But what she meant, I later realized, was that it is sometimes harder to stay and fight through the muck when you just want to give up and throw in the towel.

But back to the topic of infidelity. That definition is different to everyone. Is it simply the act of sex or can you cheat emotionally? My personal opinion doesn’t matter here but I was so glad the way the story played out. There were no gratuitous scenes for shock and awe but instead hit the nerve of finding a “connection” with someone. I agree with this quote wholeheartedly and again it shows the candor in matters of the heart:

“I do think we have the capacity to love more than one person at a time, and that the love we feel for someone can be displaced, transferred, shifted. Even shared with another. But not lost. At least not forever.”

Covet will be released on September 17, 2013.   I am so thankful and overjoyed that NetGalley  gave me an advance uncorrected proof and was not compensated or required to review this book.

Check out more from Tracey Garvis-Graves at her website at http://www.traceygarvisgraves.com/ and like me hungrily await her next project!

Amazon        Barnes & Noble

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