Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging–a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she’s surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingénue who lives in the nearby mansion.
Kendall Joiner wants Lauren’s help uncovering the old woman’s secrets. In return, she’ll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren’s tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.
From the synopsis, you can gather the basic gist of the story....a young woman's career just beginning, a terrible scandal rocking her world to pieces, and a new beginning riddled with pitfalls that seem too big to surmount. Would her life ever be the same again? In the ways that matter, no...but that doesn't mean that it won't be worth shouting about from the nearest mountaintops. I really enjoyed my time spend with Lauren and getting to know her chosen family was just as enchanting. She is challenged many times in this small portion of her life and through it all, she shines like the star she was meant to be. Don't get me wrong, she struggles, but that just adds to her beauty. She's very human in her responses to all she encounters, as is Charlotte (what a firecracker!), and that simply makes her that much easier to connect with, but I want to take this review in a different direction, if I may. I'm usually telling you an overall feel for the book, but this one had me thinking from the start....quite literally. The start in this case being the title.
We've talked about them before, titles that is. They can mean anything, nothing, or EVERYTHING to the story or characters. In this case, it means several things for our two main leads, as well as a few side characters. Let's take Lauren on first. Initially, it was in reference to the fact that her star was fading in the public arena or fashion industry; public scandals will do that. That moment of utter disbelief, of total despair at what her future could never now be , took her back to her roots. It unveiled (hmm, pun intended!) her true talent, while helping her to reconnect with her faith, and eventually managed to give her a softer landing in a place more befitting her soul. Next up, Charlotte Montgomery. The title for this woman was more about her past than her future. Once upon a time, she garnered the attention of those she sought, but once the influence drained from her family name, her days of stardom faded fast. Isn't funny how fickle fame can be? The same can be said of those "friends" that come calling when our names carry weight but disperse quicker than dandelion fuzz on a windy day once the spotlight has dimmed. She has much to learn despite her past experiences and from the one person she doesn't feel the need to give the time of day. As mentioned, our leading ladies have a turn with the title but so do a few side characters, but I'll let you explore those avenues on your own.
In the end, this was an enjoyable read that really got to the heart of the matter with style and grace. You never know another person until they really let you in, but if we're willing to show our hearts the returns are tenfold and soul deep. Lauren is someone I'd love to call friend (as I would her bestie and heart-mother - what a lovely term/description!), while Charlotte is certainly someone I'd rather on my side than against, but fascinating nonetheless. Trust me...you would too. You'll smile with the highs, and shake your fist at the lows, but by book's end you'll have enjoyed your journey and gladly return for more. Recommended read for Christian Fiction fans of all ages...