Mary Kay Andrews novels have become a summer staple like a new pair of sandals.
The New York Times best-selling author returns with the perfectly mixed cocktail of romance, mystery and comedy, with Ladies Night (St. Martins Press, 464 pages).
Heartache and humor come together in a story about lifes unpredictable twists and turns when a group of women and a man get together for drinks after their weekly, court-ordered divorce therapy sessions.
Publishers Weekly gave Ladies Night a starred review. Bestseller Andrews is at the top of her game, delivering a smart, funny perfect-for-summer read with a hopeful heart, the reviewer wrote.
Andrews is also the author of Spring Fever, Summer Rental and The Fixer Upper. The former Raleigh resident says she has an unwritten promise to her readers.
When they crack open up my book, they are going to have a good time. I want to entertain, I want to write about characters my readers can believe in and root for, she said during a telephone interview.
The idea for this novel came from her annual retreat with North Carolina writers to Weymouth Center in Southern Pines. Mystery author Margaret Maron of Johnston County says the group calls itself the Weymouth seven. Members include Sarah Shaber, Diane Chamberlain, Katy Munger, Alexandra Sokoloff and Brenda Witchger.
We all write different things, Maron said. We have a lot of fun. We are all professional writers, not there to teach but to bounce ideas off of each other.
During the spring 2011 writing gathering, Andrews read an article on divorced author Kevin Cotter and became intrigued. When Cotters wife left him, she took all of her possessions from the home they shared except her wedding dress. He eventually turned the expensive white gown into a hammock, a yoga mat, a winter hunting outfit, a Christmas tree skirt and a popular book, 101 Uses for My Ex-Wifes Wedding Dress.
That got me thinking about revenge, Andrews said. Weve all been betrayed. I thought about doing something spectacular with it. Then it became a book about reinvention and restoration and ultimately about redemption.
She explains that bad things happen to all of us and she cant spare her characters the pain of divorce and betrayal.
So in Ladies Night, Grace Stanton is enjoying life as a beloved lifestyle blogger, living in a wealthy gated community and married to Ben Stanton, a former advertising executive who manages her lucrative blog, Gracenotes.
But Graces fortune changes when she catches Ben in a compromising position with her assistant in his expensive Audi Spyder RX convertible in the middle of the night. Grace torpedoes Bens beloved sports car straight into the family swimming pool. Ben fights back, locking Grace out of her palatial home, her bank account, and even her blog.
Like Andrews other female characters, at first they think they are going to crumble. After pulling the covers over their heads, they eventually put their feet on the floor and face the world again, often with humor and wit.
Thats what makes readers fans of Andrews. Fellow best-selling author Chamberlain says, I just finished Ladies Night last night and loved it. I dont know how she does it, but Mary Kay always manages to find the sweet spot between tears and laughter. Her characters are so easy to relate to and sympathize with even when their behavior is outrageous. They have the guts to do what most women never would, and its fun to imagine ourselves in their shoes."