What She Gave Away by Catherine Riggs
What She Gave Away is the first of two novels in a series per Amazon's page. I can't see how the second book fits in as a part of a series as this first book was complete and didn't leave anything open for a sequel. I tried to read it last year and just couldn't get into it, but I really wanted to try again and stuck with it this time.
The story is told from two viewpoints. You have Crystal Love, a plus-sized loan analyst who manages to get the job she desires despite not fitting into Santa Barbara's mold. It's clear that she has ulterior motives regarding her new job.
Kathi Wright has spent a long time as one of Santa Barbara's elite. She's the wife of the bank president, the same bank where Crystal gets a job. When Kathi's husband dies, she learns he's not only left her penniless, but he was also embroiled in a fraudulent scheme and Kathi's suspected of knowing all about it.
As Kathi struggles to save the lifestyle she's accustomed to, Crystal is also working hard at something. But what?
Connecting with Kathi was impossible. The minute she pawns a watch to have some cash to get through and immediately uses it on things like wine, a manicure, etc., I gave up even trying to like her. It's clear nothing, not even the threat of poverty, was going to change her.
Crystal was not likable either. It's clear she's been wronged over the years, but she's willing to use anyone to reach her ultimate goal and I didn't like her for that. When she meets Mimi about halfway into the book, I found I disliked Mimi, too. I had no one to root for and that made it hard to care about what happened in the end.
That said, I still felt compelled to keep reading. I wanted to see how it all came together. I was never disappointed with those revelations or the trip to get there. The plot and pacing were fine, I simply couldn't connect with any of the characters.