"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

05 July 2017

2017 Book Review #19: Under the Influence

I read this book on the drive to Montreal and then on the plane to Italy.  Good book by an author I've read before.


Swift and Ava Havilland are extremely wealthy and like to help people who are in difficult circumstances.  They are considered to be philanthropists and own and run a non-profit agency for abused or abandoned dogs.  They have no children together, but Swift has a college-aged son from a previous marriage. Ava is disabled from a spinal cord injury.  She cannot move around without her wheelchair yet she is vivacious, charismatic and always on the go.  Their art-filled house is always full of people because they host "over the top" parties.  They appear to be madly in love with each other even after several years of marriage.  Ava specializes in rescuing dogs....until she meets Helen....whom she decides needs rescuing.

Helen is a photographer and single mom due to divorce.  Her ex husband has custody of their little boy, Oliver.  The reason for this is because when Ollie was just 5 (he is now 8), she had too much to drink one evening and was arrested for DUI.  Ollie is having trouble forgiving his mommy for losing custody and rarely speaks to her while on their visitation days.  Helen goes on dates but no one is steady and her evenings are mainly spent at AA meetings.  She has one close friend, Alice.

One evening, while working at an art gallery, Helen meets Ava and Ava quickly becomes Helen's friend and confidante.  The Havillands "hire" Helen to do some work for them, cataloging their many art pieces and inviting her to their home for dinner almost every evening.  Ava proclaims that they are going to "give you a life".  Helen begins to dress in Ava's hand-me-downs, and she is at their home more than at her own apartment.

But then Helen meets Elliot...the quietest, most unassuming man she has ever known who is an accountant and soon falls in love with her.  Helen is beginning to feel the same way until Ava and Swift tell her she can do better.  This cause Helen to mistrust her own feelings.

Ollie, meanwhile, has fallen under Swift's spell and really takes a liking to this older man.  Swift begins to treat him like a second son!  Swift even promises Helen that he will pay for a high power attorney so Helen can get custody of her son again.

Then tragedy strikes......Ollie is a witness to a horrible accident at the Havilland's Lake Tahoe vacation house and now Helen and Ollie must pay up for the Havilland's generosity.  And they will pay dearly if they refuse to go along with the plan.  And at the same time, Helen discovers the real truth behind Ava and her disability.

Will Helen ever come out from under the influence of the Havilland's?? and what about her relationship with Elliot??  


This was a quick, easy read.  It was perfect for a summer vacation trip.  I enjoyed the character development and I loved how the title of the book makes you realize that there is a double meaning in it as Helen deals with her alcoholism and the people whom she discovers are really just selfish, controlling "friends".

The ending was a surprise and very well done.  I like the themes of forgiveness after a betrayal and the moving forward in life that Helen accomplishes.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some mature content).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 8.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

Although I seen lots of this author's books at the library I have yet to read one.