Confession: Marybeth and I get more novels through the door than we can ever read. And we’ve learned to quickly identify the books that most appeal to us. One of the ways we sort through the daily UPS delivery is by reading the first page of the many novels that come our way. So often that page is an immediate indication of whether or not we will love a book. There’s just something about the tone and the cadence and feel of a good book right off the bat. So we thought it would be fun to begin a new series where we introduce you to a novel by it’s first page. And we can’t think of a better book to launch this series with than Nicole Baart’s, THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, out today from Atria Books. We’d love you to chime in by taking a look at the excerpt below and letting us know whether you would keep reading. (Spoiler: we were hooked.) And we have a copy of THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS up for grabs today. (See the entry form below for details.) Congratulations to Nicole, and we hope you enjoy!
It was less a car accident than a struck match.
Adrienne had felt off all day, lopsided and a little dizzy, like the time she had taken the cable car to the top of Gibraltar and nearly fallen off the rock from vertigo. But she had ignored the strange sense of premonition, the feeling that her world was about to change, because Adri didn’t like change. And she didn’t like the madness exploding around her, each scene a snapshot so smudged and surreal she had to wonder if it was all a bad dream. A nightmare. But it wasn’t.
Broken glass. The thick scent of gasoline whipped up by the wind. Two dark slashes on the concrete that marked the place where the truck driver had hit the brakes too late. The road was a menacing swath of sharp edges, and the crowd a riot of colors and fists and dialects Adri didn’t understand. She could taste the musky press of hot skin, the sour-sweet tang of the red dust that churned beneath her feet. It was familiar and foreign, home and away.
She wasn’t afraid until someone reached into the wreckage of the overturned truck and brandished a single bottle that hadn’t been shattered in the rollover. It was an empty Fanta bottle, utterly harmless. Until he smashed it against the the upturned bumper and held it, jagged and glittering, like a blade.
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About the book:
From the author of Sleeping in Eden, described as “intense and absorbing from the very first page” (Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence), comes a gripping new novel about two former best friends and the secrets they can’t escape.
Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.
Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.
Nicole Baart’s lush and lyrical writing has been called “sparkling” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (Romantic Times). THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS is another exquisitely rendered, haunting story that will stay with readers long after the last page.