Title: The Girl I Used to Be
Author: Heidi Hostetter
Genre: Literary Fiction
A perfect husband. A perfect life. But none of it’s real. "…Somebody better tell Elin Hilderbrand that Heidi Hostetter is out to steal her crown. This is hands down one of the top 10 summer reads of 2021!”
Jillian DiFiore changed her whole life to marry Marc, a man twice her age. She was truly in love, or so she thought, and she did everything to mold herself into his perfect wife. But Prince Charming was not who he seemed to be and her marriage implodes.
Dark secrets come to light and Jill is awarded a sprawling beach house on the New Jersey shore in the divorce. Overpriced and with a troubled history, the house is a symbol of everything Jill’s lost. She hates the sight of it but knows she must sell it if she’s to move on. She travels to the shore intending to sell the house quickly—but the task is not as easy as she expects. Unexpectedly, she’s charmed by the coastal town’s old-fashioned ways and quirky residents. The town reminds her of childhood summers spent with her favorite Aunt and Uncle. Surprisingly, she starts to remember the girl she was before she met her husband and she wants to find her way back…
When Jill stumbles across a terrible secret, it changes everything. The house has a dark past and Marc’s part in it goes deeper than Jill expects. If the secret comes to light, it will destroy the town she’s come to love. When Marc offers to bury the evidence and allow her to walk away Jill must decide whether accept his offer or to become the girl she used to be?
A gripping, emotional read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night, perfect for fans of Amanda Prowse, Elin Hilderbrand and Diane Chamberlain.
The punch of regret came on the heels of her fury.
Would he come back to her if she asked? Could they salvage their marriage if he did? When she realized she could never forgive him for what he’d done, her regret melted into an overwhelming sadness. She’d loved Marc with her whole heart and thought he loved her too. Retreating to the couch, she cocooned herself with a soft blanket and sobbed until there was nothing left.
Hours later, her anger returned, but this time it landed on Marc for casually discarding a marriage that had meant everything to her. And when the anger was finished with Marc, it turned on Jill. It accused her of abandoning the woman she used to be, rough-edged and loud, in favor of the plastic shell of a woman that Marc preferred. And when her anger was satisfied with the damage it had done, it stilled, leaving her feeling hollow and afraid.
Panic filled the space that anger had carved out, reminding Jill that everything in this house, from the shoes in her closet to the pepper mill in the pantry, had been purchased by Marc. The income from Jill’s photography business was barely enough to pay for the newspaper delivery. To support herself, she’d have to find a job—and quickly. Not that she was afraid of hard work; she wasn’t. She’d come from nothing, earning her place in college with grades and paying her way with work-study and student loans. The life Marc provided was easier, but it came with a cost, and Jill refused to pay it. Not anymore.
When she realized she could right herself again, the panic receded, leaving her feeling utterly exhausted and alone. She felt a wave of despair and almost buckled against it.
And in that moment, a memory of Aunt Sarah presented itself.
Aunt Sarah had been a gentle presence during a difficult childhood and was a master of untangling painful situations. She was the one who had taught Jill to manage and control her anger, gently explaining that those emotions only served to cloud rational thought.
The memory gave Jill the strength to push aside the blanket and rise from the sofa. Shards of broken pottery crunched under her feet as she made her way to the sink and filled a glass with water. The liquid cooled her throat and cleared her head as she found her way to Aunt Sarah, her voice as clear and distinct as if the woman herself were standing in the kitchen, and Jill felt tears of longing collect behind her lids. She closed her eyes and let the tears fall.
Heidi Hostetter is a proud Jersey Girl, born and raised. Growing up, she spent summers at her grandparents' house on the shore, in a town much like the one she writes about in her novels, and it was idyllic. The New Jersey shore has a culture all its own, where every magical thing can be found: sparklers on the beach, fireflies at night, and whole days swimming in the ocean.
She went to college in South Carolina and found inspiration for her Lowcountry Novels. After graduation, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she developed an appreciate the rain. Trips to the Oregon coast inspired her award-winning Inlet Beach novels. She and her family have recently moved back across the country, to the DC-area, where history is everywhere. They live in a one-hundred-year-old house that's definitely haunted and feels like inspiration for a really good story. When she's not writing, you can probably find her digging in her garden or poking around old houses for inspiration. She loves the beach, a good podcast, and is always up for a trip to a bookstore, no matter how far away. Heidi is currently at work on her new novel. She shares office space with a labradoodle named Emmett who keeps are careful watch for errant squirrels foolish enough to wander into his yard. She loves to hear from readers and answers all her own mail. You can find her here:
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