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Reviewed by Kathie Smith

Brenda McAllister has reluctantly been pulled out of her life as a recluse after the suicide of her husband a year earlier. Her agent insisted she attend a writing conference in an attempt to bring her back to the literary world by surrounding herself with other successful writers, agents and fans while promoting the follow-up to her best-selling self-help book on family and marriage. Moaning inwardly about the lack of coffee in her room on her first morning of the conference, she makes a quick trip in crumpled clothes and unkempt hair to get some from the lobby. On a mission and not paying a great deal of attention, she turns the corner and runs straight into a well-dressed man and spills coffee on his shirt. Her apology falls on the deaf ears of a rude and angry man who is late for a meeting.

Dinner finds her seated with this same egotistical man, who turns out to be the popular and successful author, CJ Morrison. Neither are pleased to learn that their agents have arranged for them to work together in developing the central character for his latest novel in a series. They believe she, as a trained psychologist, can analyze the fictional character by seeing him through the author’s eyes. They find themselves pushed into agreeing to the arrangement despite finding one another disagreeable and difficult.

Brenda and CJ slowly come to enjoy spending the time together and realize they judged one another too harshly in the heat of their initial meeting. They find they have similar obstacles to overcome and their reluctant collaboration turns into a strong friendship. As Brenda struggles with feeling responsible for not seeing the severity of the warning signs prior to her husband Jack’s suicide and worry that the inappropriate relationship she had with another man may have contributed to his decision, CJ is still consumed with guilt over the circumstances of his beloved wife Carla’s death ten years ago.

Suddenly Jack’s name is being dragged through the mud regarding a financial scandal at his former company. Brenda believes strongly in his innocence and is intent on clearing his name. She receives an intimidating visit from Jack’s best friend and former coworker demanding information he is certain Jack left behind. A decidedly smug threat from the head of the company strengthens her resolve. CJ stands by her as she realizes her husband’s involvement and how deeply entangled others in the company are in the financial fraud.

What ultimately develops is a relationship built on mutual respect, honesty and trust – things neither of them believed possible after the loss of spouses they truly loved. Brenda and CJ struggle through coming to long overdue terms with the mistakes and regrets of their pasts, but The Hourglass is ultimately a story about forgiveness and hope for a promising future. They are able to focus on new beginnings by finally coming to peace with their pasts and Struth’s writing brings this about with the promising feeling that things are starting anew as the book comes to a satisfying close.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Etopia Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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