About Defining Her
Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.
Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.
Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming.
This was a really different read regarding women’s fiction, but I loved how thought-provoking and emotional that it was. Nellie’s past is absolutely not picture-perfect and she has kept that past hidden from her husband Harrison. They are a successful, active couple but he wants children and she’s not so sure. Prue is trying to make a fresh start and feels that she’s been robbed of happiness too many times. Nellie and Prue become friends although it always appears to be strained and awkward. At the same time, Harrison meets a new friend and the appropriateness of the friendship isn’t exactly what you would expect from him. The good girl Prue seems like the wronged woman and damsel in constant distress, but you quickly realize she’s not as innocent as she seems.
To be honest, none of the characters are very likable in this novel, each doing, saying, or thinking things that they shouldn’t, however, I preferred Nellie to anyone else. Yes, Nellie came from a horrible upbringing with a horrible mother, but she did turn her life around. She wasn’t honest with Harrison about her past, but she did become a better person, a good wife, and a successful business owner. It appeared that her marriage to her successful attorney husband was in a bit of a rut, but Harrison was struggling with desires to become a father and reconciling Nellie’s complete opposite mindset on the subject. Prue just grated my last nerve, playing the outcast and wronged person in basically every relationship. At first, I just found her weak and felt sorry for some of her pathetic thoughts and ramblings, but later realized she was really just a few shades off of crazy.
I loved Samantha March’s honest and raw development of all of these characters, whether I liked the characters or not. Her writing style generously allows readers a window into the character’s minds and souls. However, silly, cringe-worthy, or inappropriate, the reader knows exactly how the characters are feeling, as well as, knowing their innermost thoughts. When I first finished this novel I was thinking to myself that there wasn’t that much “meat” to the plot, however, after thinking it over for awhile, I realized that I got a lot from reading it. Nellie had a dark and shameful past and was afraid of her husband learning the truth – but was trying to overcome it. Prue considered herself a victim for the majority of her life and decided that she was within her rights to deceive and hurt others because that had been done to her. Both women were living their lives based on the past and as the title alludes, allowing the past to define them as a person, rather than focusing on the present and future and the happy lives that they could lead. The author conveys an important message of being honest and truthful, as well as, provides a strong reminder that our past doesn’t make us who we are, it’s what we choose as adults on our paths forward that demonstrates who we are as a person.
This is not light-hearted chick lit but a great read that makes you think and reflect on your own life and actions. I definitely categorize this as a must-read, especially for Samantha March fans or lovers of more in-depth women’s fiction.
*Thanks so much to Samantha March for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author
Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things beauty, fashion and fitness. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and has five published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A Questionable Friendship, Up To I Do and Defining Her, and one holiday novella, The Christmas Surprise. You can also find her on Youtube sharing beauty reviews and creating makeup tutorials. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.