No River Too Wide
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Some betrayals are like rivers, so deep, so wide, they can't be crossed. But–for those with enough courage–forgiveness, redemption and love may be found on the other side.
On the night her home is consumed by fire, Janine Stoddard finally escapes from her abusive husband, a step that she knows may lead to her death if he finds her. While she is reluctant to involve her estranged daughter, she can't resist a chance to see Harmony and baby Lottie in Asheville, North Carolina, before she disappears forever.
Harmony's friend Taylor Martin realizes how much the reunited mother and daughter yearn to stay together, and she sees in Jan a chance to continue her own mother's legacy of helping women in need of a fresh start. She opens her home, even as she's opening her heart to another newcomer, Adam Pryor. But enigmatic Adam has a secret that could destroy Taylor's trust–and cost Jan her hard-won freedom.
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"Richards deftly juggles an intriguing thriller with an exploration of domestic violence and reinvention. Still, it’s the quirky, gritty characters in and out of Goddesses Anonymous—all determined to help women in need—who power this tale of forgiveness every step of the way."
"Portraying the uncomfortable subject of domestic abuse with unflinching thoroughness and tender understanding, Richards’ (Somewhere between Luck and Trust, 2013) third installment in the Goddesses Anonymous series offers important insights into a far too prevalent social problem."
—Carol Haggas at Booklist
"This is emotional, suspenseful drama filled with hope and love."
—Ann Miskewitch at Library Journal
"Richards’ breathtaking page-turner is intense, fusing genres and engendering joy and sorrow. Her inherent understanding of emotions and empathic storytelling is apparent in her handling, without sermonizing, a realistic and too frequent social reality. Her fluent narrative superbly matches the ecletic Asheville community and every genuinely cultivated, enigmatic character shines."
—RT Book Reviews Top Pick
"A suspense thriller packed with secrets, and domestic violence; one of courage, forgiveness, redemption, and reinvention—a must read book for teens and women of all ages. For those who have suffered from abuse or currently involved in an abusive relationship, and anyone currently dating or involved in any relationship."
A concerned reader once emailed to ask if I wrote about the abuse of women so frequently because I am an abused wife myself. I was stunned by the question until I began to add up all the times I had tackled this issue on one level or another. And suddenly, I could see her point.
I grew up with a mother who told me that if a man ever lifted his hand to her, he would only have do it once, because she would leave him immediately. Although in retrospect I’m not sure she would have, I like to believe that I learned that lesson at her knee, and in the same situation I would leave, too. Intolerance for violence has always seemed a given to me in a relationship, a baseline, and consequently I married a gentle, thoughtful man who never has, and never would strike me.
The issue still seems personal, however, and it should to every woman. Escaping from abuse is not as easy as my mother made it sound, and finding a spouse who won’t resort to violence when he’s angry, or wants to assert control, is not as easy as I believed. Too many women can testify to both.
When I created the character of Harmony Stoddard, (One Mountain Away) I gave her a family background with a warm, loving mother and an abusive, mercurial father. I wanted to make it clear to my readers that she couldn’t go home to fix the problems in her own life. The problems at home were much worse.
As so often happens, as I worked on the series, I continued to wonder about Janine, Harmony’s mom. I knew she was in an untenable situation, and that she believed she couldn’t escape. I wanted to know why. So I researched abuse more thoroughly, read first-hand accounts and imagined scenarios where a woman could be trapped by a man. Janine’s story became clearer to me.
When I began to write this novel, I chose not to belabor what Janine had already been through. Certainly she has been shaped, even misshaped, by all the torment she has undergone, but at the same time, the novel begins as she finally escapes. I wanted to write a story of recovery, of courage, of transformation, as well as one of continued fear for the future–which so many women share. That’s the story I’ve tried to tell.
I have never been abused, but I know that some of my readers and people they know may well have been. I dedicate this story to them, with the greatest love and respect for their struggles.