The House Guests
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Buy the Book: Amazon, Amazon (Print), Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Books-A-Million, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Audible
Be careful who crosses your threshold.
In the wake of her husband’s fatal sailing accident, Cassie Costas's relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unravels. Cassie hopes a move from Manhattan to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida and the support of her Greek-American family will help heal Savannah's wounds. But Savannah hates her new home, her school, and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie, who is futilely searching for answers about the man she shared a life with, can't find a path back to Savannah's heart. Nor can she find a trace of the family's missing investments.
When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie invites the strangers to move in. Savannah needs to learn her actions have consequences, and Cassie wants to repair the damage her stepdaughter caused.
As lives intertwine and friendships bloom, Cassie realizes that Amber is not whom she seems. She is evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the pretty, personable woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her.
By welcoming strangers into her home, has she thrown open the front door to danger?
"Fans of suspenseful domestic drama will love Richards's (A Family of Strangers) tale of secrets, lies, and the ties that bind people."
—Library Journal (starred review.)
"The carefully constructed entwining of Cassie and Amber’s stories offers some genuine surprises. This is pure soap opera of the best sort."
"A compelling page-turner one won't want to put down.”
—New York Journal of Books
I grew up in Gulfport, FL, about thirty miles from Tarpon Springs. In elementary school, my class took a field trip to the Sponge Docks. I have a clear memory of a sponge diver in a deep sea diving suit and helmet demonstrating how sponges were harvested. That memory may even have influenced my first "diving" book, Beautiful Lies, about diving for Australian pearls off the coast of Broome.
When I decided to use an idea that had been tugging at me for years, one inspired by a newspaper account of a woman who lost her home after she lost her rent money, I knew I wanted to set my new novel in Florida. My last book, A Family of Strangers, was set in a fictional Florida city, Seabank, on the Central Gulf Coast, and at first I considered setting The House Guests there, as well. But memories of Tarpon Springs tugged at me.
Did I know enough about sponge diving, about the Greeks who settled this very real town and are still a sizeable percentage of its citizens? Could I learn enough about Greek culture or running a Greek restaurant, Yiayia's Kouzina, to write this story? The answer was of course not. Novelists rarely know enough about any subject they choose. The good news is that we can research what we need, both before and during, and carefully avoid the things we can't.
Before Covid-19 reared its head, I visited Tarpon Springs several times, spent three nights there during their Epiphany celebration, and developed an even healthier appetite for Greek food–which still persists. Since visiting Greece years ago I've routinely made moussaka and pastitsio for my family, along with horiatiki salad. I always grow my own Greek oregano. But now I was spurred to perfect my recipes. While I'm pleased with the results, baklava still eludes me. Instead, once we can move about freely again, I've set my sights on another visit to Tarpon Springs, where a platter of baklava from Hellas Restaurant and Bakery is calling my name.
As the publication date of The House Guests approaches, check my blog for links to some of my favorite Greek recipes and enjoy your own taste of Tarpon Springs and Yiayia's Kouzina.