e. denise billups
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
By Chance, written by E. Denise Billups, focuses on three women who have a shared, unknown connection in the beginning of this supernatural story. Although they start out as colleagues working on a TV home remodeling show that gives a house away each year to one lucky entrant, they become friends over time and support one another through multiple difficult, personal situations. They also have varying degrees of paranormal abilities, enabling them to predict what might happen and to recall memories from long ago. When they each receive a peculiar gift one holiday morning, they turn to each other to protect themselves from a harmful entity seeking vengeance.
Enter Tom and his family. He appears to be a man suffering from something awful that occurred in the past. He previously won the home giveaway contest, but after time, things went awry. We never quite know what happened, but he wants to punish the show for its lies and the unfairness it’s caused in his life. He makes a difficult decision to leave his family in order to travel around the country to get revenge against the show, stalking and hunting down the three women (and a few others) who were part of his downfall.
Told from different perspectives, we learn the history leading up to Tom’s anger through the eyes of different situations and characters. At the same time, we watch the women try to discover who is out to get them, as Tom’s notes and presents are purposefully confusing. The women are also unable to clearly see Tom’s identity, and nothing indicates he is past winner, at least in the beginning. As the events unfold, and Tom unravels, he makes mistakes which lead to someone figuring out his identity. But then, they can’t actually find him. They just foresee the final encounter, which doesn’t bode well for their futures. What can the trio do to stop him?
While the supernatural abilities are important to the story, they aren’t what made this such a great read for me. Billups created memorable characters with painful history and wonderful, outgoing personalities. I believed the kindred spirit and friendship among the three primary women, and they kept my attention throughout the tale. The concept of the story was intriguing–a home giveaway contest gone wrong. Or did it? There is a heightened psychological aspect to this story because at times, we are unsure who might be involved in the entire situation. It creates good suspense and makes for a very easy read.
This isn’t a whodunit tale, nor is it focused on what actually went wrong with the house that was given away. It’s more a story of perspective and overcoming challenges. The main plot takes place over about a year, and the subplots are plenty–we see all the new relationships and events in the women’s lives while the stalking continues to occur. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t know that will haunt you in the end.
Tom suffers through a lot, but we won’t find out all the details until much further in the book than you’d expect. I turned the pages quickly on a flight halfway across the country, and before long, it’d ended. Pacing and timing were strong, and I found myself invested in the outcome. The ending was a nice surprise, and I realized how much I enjoy Billups’ writing style. A definite recommend from me for fans of something that blends a few genres and turns out a solid story.
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.
After reading a few articles written by E. Denise Billups in Conscious Talk Magazine, I found myself intrigued with her writing style and voice. After some research, I noticed she’d written a few books, so I selected the one that appealed to me the most, Kalorama Road. If you’re a fan of mysterious character connections, someone with memory loss trying to unearth what happened during a missing 24-hour period, or a subtle tense feeling of “uh oh” while reading, you will definitely enjoy this one!
The book jumps back and forth between a few main characters, sharing their stories and actions over the course of a few weeks. We see a few memories from the past and learn who is really connected to who. As each chapter unfolds, a piece of the puzzle gets more clear but also opens up more confusion to leaf through. Throw in a powerful senator and his family, a suicide, a newspaper reporter trying to find out what happened in the past, a murder, and a family with a large endowment given to the university yet some secrets worth protecting, there’s bound to be a few explosive moments. What a wild ride, both in terms of how all the connections are revealed and in the build-up of tension between all the new people suddenly just appearing in Allie’s life as she’s trying to solve the puzzle of her missing memories.
Billups drew me in from the first few chapters. I’m a sucker for a lost memory story, but when it straddles that line of “oh, this seems obvious” but then throws you a curve where you’re like “wait, WHAT?” it’s even more appealing. It takes a lot to plan a story where you reveal things bit by bit. It’s also difficult to cover a story from multiple points of view without confusing readers. Billups handles both with great aplomb and talent, as it came together solidly without any concern.
Her character sketches of different women and men in their 20s, living in NY, were on point and realistic — there were moments were they annoyed me because of typical behavior, but that’s a good thing as it means Billups has evoked intense emotion and a strong connection to the story. I enjoyed the slow-build romance and potential eerie connections with her new friends, but I also could tell she had some blinders on when it came to all the ‘coincidences’ going on in her life. And there’s an explanation for it… as the tidbits of history we learn about Allie and her sister’s lives growing up clearly show why they act the way they do now. A great way to make things seem quite reasonable in a story that has you guessing who to trust.
I’m quite intrigued by what else might come from the author’s clever mind. I’ll be taking another look at her previous books and seeing if I can find out what’s coming up next… as I’ll definitely be reading another one this year. And I don’t want to wait a year for another book! 🙂
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.