Deacon Thorpe, the first celebrity television bad boy chef is dead. Surviving him is his first wife Laurel (a social worker) and their son Hayes…and his second wife (Oscar winning movie star) Belinda and their adopted daughter Angie…oh and his third wife Scarlett (failed photographer and successful anorexic) and their young daughter (a little girl whose name I can’t remember). His last request is that all three women and all of his children gather together in their summer home American Dream on Nantucket to spread his ashes. There, they will find out that each woman has inherited 1/3 of the house. In reality, they actually inherited over $480,000 worth of debt because there are three mortgages on the house and they’re all due in two weeks. Presumably, Deacon wants the ladies to work out how they can pay it off to “save the property” (AND THE AMERICAN DREAM!) for the kids and the future grandkids. Because of the way each relationship ended with Deacon the three women have different feelings towards one another, but the kids are all pretty tight but dealing with their issues. I’ll start with the least important first.
The littlest one’s biggest problem is that she doesn’t like her hair and doesn’t seem to notice that her dad’s dead. So uh, yeah, that’s her problem. Angie’s problem is that she and Deacon were not only father and daughter but also best friends. They worked alongside one another as chefs in his exclusive, ultra cool (but totally not profitable) restaurant, but also hung out. I felt for Angie, especially when it came to finding out who she was in love with…uggh, Ang, hun–you can do better! And then finally the eldest child in the Thorpe family, Hayes. For some reason Hayes went from exotic travel writer to heroin addict…but don’t worry! He admits he has a problem before the end of the book and it seems like that did the trick!
The ladies have a more complicated history with Deacon. Laurel was impregnated by him in high school and gave up her college scholarships and dreams to have Hayes with him. But…que sera sera because she believed in Duncan’s chef abilities AND she knew that he was a broken boy (you’ll have to read the first chapter for the justification for all of this…it’s not justifiable, just so you know) and she wanted to be that missing piece for him. Fun fact, she wasn’t! And that’s how he started having an affair with acclaimed movie star Belinda (Something–I can’t remember her last name and refuse to go and look). She too wanted to take care of Deacon, because underneath the tattoos, curse words and talent, she ALSO knows that he’s a wounded soul. Perhaps he felt bad that he left the wife he supposedly loved and baby in NYC? I would hope so. Later, their marriage would also end in divorce and conveniently, Deacon married the SUPER HOT nanny, Scarlett. We should be proud of Deacon though. He never cheated on Belinda with the nanny, he ran into Scarlett later and randomly proposes to her. Their marriage is pretty much the worst, but at least Scarlett wasn’t trying to save him, she was just latched on to him and he to her but not really because he kind of loves Laurel the most (maybe??). Anyways, it’s safe to say that Deacon and Scarlett as a couple are the worst and they know it.
So yada, yada, yada…all the kids (except for the little kid who has no real purpose in the story other than for symmetry) learn stuff about themselves, all the ladies learn some stuff about themselves and each other, and together as a FAMILY they mourn the imperfect man whom they all loved for various (but similar) reasons.
I know it sounds like I’m mocking the book, and I kind of am (and yet I liked it, kind of??). Deacon seems like a garbage person to me. All the background in the world wouldn’t have made what he did to Laurel and Hayes ok in my world, and that just got his bad behavior started. But whatever, the book isn’t really about him (even though it is). The book isn’t great, the characters aren’t that great either but after reading The Rumor (which I liked but also lacked some believability towards the end), I decided to read another of her books. Hilderbrand writes books that seem to lull me in and while I’m reading them, I’m all in! Then I finish the book and I think back and realize that might be suffering Stockholm Syndrome because of all the reasons above…and even STILL I think I want to keep reading these books. I could see these being “chick flicks” that I would roll my eyes at but still end up watching, so I guess that’s the answer to why I keep going even though I’m quick to criticize.