About the Book:
Lina and Phil Hunter have shared a strong bond since they were teenagers and he saved her life, so when Lina’s mother cautions her to be on guard against a new love interest she sees in her astrological chart, Lina laughs her off. Her marriage may have been under extra stress lately, dealing with a rebellious teenager, but Lina’s never even looked at another man, well besides her daughter’s psychiatrist, Dr. Drayton, but that’s more in awe.
When a betrayal shakes the foundation of her marriage, Lina begins confiding in the child psychiatrist, blurring the lines between whether she or her daughter is the patient. As a mutual attraction grows, Lina begins to question whether the boy she fell in love with twenty-five years earlier still exists.
Laura Branchflower is a compelling new voice in contemporary fiction with believable characters dealing with real life struggles.
A White Picket Fence is a family drama.
“Where are the kids?” she asked.
“Out.” He pushed back his chair.
“You can keep working, I—”
“I sent them away so we could talk.”
Lina took a few steps backwards into the foyer. “It’s okay. You were right last night—it’s your business to handle. I shouldn’t have said anything.” She began to walk towards the staircase, intending to go up to their room, but he was behind her, taking her arm and slowly turning her to face him.
“Lina, if there were a way I could avoid having this conversation with you, I would.” His eyes were full of sadness.
Her heart began to pound, all of the relief she felt at Diane’s reassurances gone. She shook her head, her eyes filling with tears. “Phil, I know you had an affair,” she said, her voice breaking. She wanted him to deny it, to shake his head and tell her it wasn’t true, to validate the little ounce of doubt she had kept with her and cherished over the past month. But of course he didn’t, because it was true. A little part of her died at the realization.
“I don’t want to have this conversation standing in the hallway.”
“Why not?” Lina whispered, meeting his eyes. “Is there a better place to break my heart?”
“This is going to get a lot worse. We need to be sitting.” He led her towards the front of the house and then hesitated. “Is the kitchen okay?”
“Yes,” she answered, barely recognizing her own voice.
Lina watched him, her beautiful husband, sitting with his legs apart, his elbows on his knees, staring down at his hands, seemingly struggling with how to begin.
“Are you in love with her?” she thought to ask.
Phil’s head snapped up. “No, God no!”
She felt her body exhale. “So you aren’t leaving me?”
He reached out and took one of her hands, his fingers sliding over her palm, his eyes meeting hers. “I will never leave you of my own volition.”
“Then I don’t understand.”
“Let me just—let me get through this.” He squeezed her hand. “Okay?” When she nodded, he took a deep breath. “This is hard.” He shook his head and glanced down at their clasped hands before raising his eyes back to hers. “About five months ago, when I was in New York, I uh, I started sleeping with one of the associates at the firm.”
“Kim.” Her voice was flat, defeated.
Lina pulled her hand from his and crossed her arms over her chest. He’d had sex with another woman. Her Phil had taken off his clothes and made love to another woman. It was no longer just a suspicion she could rationalize away. It was a fact. “Is she beautiful?”
“You’re the only woman I find beautiful.”
“Oh, right, I’m sure you were picturing my face when you were fucking her.” She wiped at the tears falling from her eyes.
“Don’t call me that. Don’t you dare call me that. You fucked another woman, Phil. You have lost your right to call me that.”
He watched her in silence, his expression grim.
“Why are you telling me this? Why couldn’t you have just let me pretend you were the man I wanted you to be?” His only reaction was a clenching of his jaw. “I hate you,” she whispered. “I hate you for this.” She stood up.
“I’m not done. Please sit down.”
“I don’t need to hear any more.” She began to walk away.
He was out of his chair and behind her, grasping her shoulders. “You have to let me finish.”
“Have you ever considered the possibility that a flawed version of me is better for you than a perfect version of anyone else?”
WOW WOW WOW! Loved this book by a completely new-to-me author. I feel a binge read coming on! Stories about married couples are my catnip and I owe a debt of gratitude to Goodreads reader Katie L. for bringing this book to my attention.
Phil and Lina have a seemingly perfect marriage. According to Lina’s mother, they are actually soulmates, destined to be together forever. Other than the adolescent troubles plaguing one of their daughters, their picture-perfect life seems to be able to withstand anything. But Lina’s growing suspicions about her beloved husband become all too real. Phil, the perfect husband and father, is not so perfect after all. Will his careless actions destroy all of their lives?
“You are the only woman I will ever love.”
I was simply swept away by this story! This might be one of my favorite books so far this year. I went through many emotions while reading ‘A White Picket Fence.’ I could not stop thinking about these characters. None of them are perfect, and in fact Phil and Lina are both very flawed characters. Phil especially is deeply flawed. While I did not necessarily agree with Lina’s decisions, the author captivated me and I could understand why Lina chose the path she did. The entire supporting cast was very human and flawed and some were not so likeable. Phil angered me many times, but at the same time, he fascinated me.
“I betrayed you.” He lowered his eyes to their clasped hands, drawing in a deep breath before raising his tear-filled eyes to hers. “And I will regret it every day for the rest of my life. But it doesn’t have to be the end for us.”
This book has a depth to the characters and a story line that really captivated me. If you enjoy family drama and a sexy, angsty romance, then I hope you will give this book a chance. I absolutely adored the story and the Epilogue was everything I hoped for! This was my first book by Laura Branchflower and I am immediately starting ‘Swimming Naked”, the next book about these characters. I can’t get enough!
“You broke my heart.”
“I know.” He kissed her again. “But I’m going to fix it.”
Buy the Series:
(Each can be read as a standalone)