Most people have heard and even used the saying, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” I can’t think of anything better that describes the book “After All” the words “tangled web”. Deborah Raney takes us into the tangled web of the main character, Susan Marlowe’s life. From the death of her husband, David, in a fire that destroyed the homeless shelter Susan ran, to her relationship with Chief Pete Brennan, to the mystery behind the fire, and on to what is going on in her son’s life, “After All” is a roller coaster of emotion, mystery, and human struggle, that follows the tangled web of Susan’s life and her relationships with those around her.
Susan, in her 40′s, has suffered the loss of her husband, a man she loved but has grown apart from. At his funeral she notices a strange woman Susan doesn’t know, weeping in the background, and wonders why this woman would be at David’s private funeral. Having faced loss, Susan now must rebuild her life and the Grove Street Shelter. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and she is in for the fight of her life, not only for the man she comes to love, but for her son who seems lost in life, and for the homeless shelter she runs that is opposed by just about everyone in town. Where can she turn for help, when others seem to always be letting her down? To God, and that is who Susan constantly finds herself going to when adversity arises in her life. Who is that mysterious woman at the funeral, and why was she there? What did she have to do with David, and why is she after Pete Brennan now? Why has her son quit college, and showed up back at home looking lost and angry? Who is this mysterious man who keeps trying to contact her and what does he want?
Fire Chief Pete Brennan, divorced from a woman who wanted wealth and children, but couldn’t have either with him, has negative feelings about the Homeless Shelter because of the fire at the Grove Street Shelter that caused the loss of 5 of his firefighter’s lives. Yet he finds he has mixed feelings for the woman who runs it, Susan Marlowe. He feels sorry for her because of the rumors that her husband had a woman on the side. He’s attracted to her because of her personality, yet there is this irritation over the new shelter she runs and his own doubts and feelings about it. This confusion with the flirtations of a county Fire Inspector who seems to have set her eyes on him, cause Pete to respond in a deceitful manner toward Susan once too often. Her church going ways don’t help. Will Pete ever give his heart to her completely, or will he fall instead for Andrea Morley, the female Fire Inspector? Will he help Susan find out what the mystery man stalking Susan wants to talk to her about? Who really caused the Grove Street fire, and why?
Deborah Raney has a simple, but wonderful way of spinning the tale of Susan and Pete. Its simplicity is what keeps you from being overwhelmed as you travel around the web spun in the story. However, it is that web that draws you into the story more and more. “After All” will lead you on a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows, and a great deal of heart pounding intrigue.
I would highly recommend “After All” to other readers, especially men and women both. I believe Raney wrote in such a way that men will relate to Pete, just as women readers will relate to Susan. As for my thoughts of a good book being able to translate to the Silver Screen or television, I definitely could imagine “After All” being made into a movie or dramatic play. To me that means it was a great book because it flooded my imagination with visual thoughts on the story and characters. This is definitely a book worth reading!
Rated R: Due to the adult relationships mentioned in the book.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!!