Jodi Picoult's Picture Perfect I picked up at a half-price bookstore in Texas, needing a page-turner that would help eat up the miles of the long car trip back to Illinois.
And a page-turner it certainly was. I had it finished well before we got home, where, surprise! A book titled Dancing on Glass, by an author I had never heard of--Pamela Binnings Ewen--was waiting for me in the mail our neighbor had collected for us, sent unsolicited by a wonderful book publicist.
Both books were very good and had some things in common. However, one of them stood out, gripping me in a way I haven't felt while reading a book in quite some time--and I've read some really good books lately. I'll tell you which one in a moment. First, some re-capping:
Picture Perfect, by Jodi Picoult
This is the story of Cassie Barrett, who wakes up in a cemetery one day with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Cassie is found by a man who has just arrived in Los Angeles to join the LAPD--William Flying Horse, a half-Sioux Indian man from South Dakota.
Will takes Cassie under his wing, but her memory begins to return, and she is soon claimed by her husband, Alex Rivers--who just happens to be the biggest movie star in Hollywood.
When she joins Alex, Cassie begins to remember why she left him, and why everything is definitely not as "picture perfect" as it seems.
Dancing on Glass, by Pamela Binnings Ewen
Amalise Catoir is an innocent...a young girl raised by loving parents in rural Louisiana now working her way through Tulane law school in 1974 by waitressing in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Amalise is optimistic, joyful, and has a strong personal relationship with God, with whom she talks frequently.
She's also intelligent, hardworking and ambitious, determined to realize her dream of being a lawyer in a time when female attorneys are just beginning to make their way into law firms.
Enter Phillip Sharp--a moody, brooding, mysterious artist who sweeps Amalise off her feet with his irresistable passion for her.
Just as Cassie has Will to depend on in Picture Perfect, Amalise has Jude...a young man a few years older than herself who she describes as her "oldest, dearest friend," a strong rock who has always been there for her.
Along with Amalise's parents, Jude finds himself increasingly appalled at her relationship with a man who is not what he claims to be.
Phillip Sharp of Dancing on Glass and Alex Rivers of Picture Perfect share many of the qualities of an abusive spouse. Both are handsome, charismatic, and have convinced their spouses that they love them above anything.
Both have had childhoods filled with neglect and/or abuse, which lead Cassie and Amalise to feel that only they can save and heal them.
Both Phillip and Alex, also, are fanatically possessive of their spouses, unreasonably demanding and ultimately cruel.
I have to say I liked Dancing on Glass better...
Although both books are superbly written and strongly compelling, I have to say I liked Dancing on Glass the best.
While Picture Perfect definitely kept me turning the pages, Dancing on Glass was absolutely riveting. Ewen did such a masterful job of drawing me into the story that I simply couldn't wait to see how it unfolded. Her writing is beautiful and evocative--I could almost feel the humidity in New Orleans, taste the beignets on Jackson Square, and feel the shattering blows Phillip delivered in his alcohol-laced rages.
And the last several chapters? Honestly, I can't remember when I physically felt the suspense the way I did in the last few chapters of Dancing on Glass! Rather than just empathetically observing Amalise's terror, I felt it. People, that's good writing.
And I won't lie that as a person of faith, I appreciated the strong faith element in the story. I've often wondered how people make it through such horrific ordeals without God. Amalise didn't have to.
I would recommend both books to anyone who loves suspense, but Picture Perfect does contain some language and sexual situations that may be offensive to some.
I can wholeheartedly recommend Dancing on Glass, and I absolutely can't wait to read more from Pamela Binnings Ewen.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”