About the Book
Is love worth killing for?
In An Unexamined Wife, the second book of the Charlotte Anthony series, plans for an idyllic holiday in Aspen are disrupted by the discovery of a dead professor in his lab full of suspicious-looking plants.
Once again, Charlotte joins forces with Detective Barnes to solve a murder that is anything but straightforward. Potential motives and suspects are many and the prof’s complicated love life only adds to the confusion.
Her investigation reveals unexpected connections between husbands, wives, friends, and lovers, and between past and future events. But information can be deadly, and Charlotte’s discoveries put both herself and her friends in great danger.
As if all of this this wasn’t enough, Charlotte is swept off her feet by the most unlikely of suitors.
The first two pages of An Unexamined Wife
Friday, December 20th
Bags packed. Gifts wrapped. Flights confirmed. Charlotte Anthony took a deep breath, satisfied that all was in order for the trip to Aspen, and settled in comfortably at the coffee shop. The others had already arrived and the conversation was, as usual, all over the place and in full gear.
Their nook in the bow window looked like a snow globe, except the heavily falling snow was outside the glass. On the sidewalk, children were making the most of being on vacation, running and laughing, while the adults leaned forward to keep the snow off their phones as they texted and walked at the same time.
Inside, The Coffee Grove was decorated with countless tiny white lights and fragrant pine garlands around the windows. A giant wreath hung on the wall behind the counter, between the two chalkboard menus, one for drinks and one for food. Jimmy Frobisher, the shop’s owner, had pushed together three tables topped with red-shaded oil lamps, around which the seven friends huddled for one of their frequent meetings of minds. When Charlotte compared this moment with how things would have been if she was still living—alone—at Lake Parkerton, she felt unlimited gratitude for these people so central to her little world in Elm Grove.
Diane leaned toward her and spoke quietly. “Any word on buyers for your house?”
They both glanced at Lola McKennie, the real estate agent, who was talking to Helene and moving her hands as if describing large spaces, which occasionally rang the jingle bells on her green velvet choker. Charlotte shook her head. “Nothing. Probably won’t be until spring, either. Now I’m spending money like water with this last-minute trip.”
The men—Jimmy, Simon, and Donovan—who were currently talking about motorcycles, looked furtively at the deep V of Lola’s snug red sweater every time the bells rang. Pavlov would have been proud.
Diane Pellegato was Charlotte’s accountant as well as friend. “Just be cautious, Charlotte. The money will get sorted out one day, but the only question is when.”
“I’m aware of it. But I don’t know what else to do under the circumstances. I haven’t seen my daughter since summer.”
Charlotte was uneasy: her entire strategy for avoiding financial disaster depended on selling her house in upscale Lake Parkerton. If the house had sold in the fall, she could even have gone to Paris to see Ellis, who was studying piano at the Conservatoire. But it didn’t.
Diane patted her arm in reassurance. “I can’t blame you a bit for wanting to see her, but why isn’t she coming home?”
“Ellis’ plane ticket was paid for by Jack’s parents, and now she’s expected to spend the holidays with them at their ski lodge.” Charlotte picked at the cinnamon bun on her plate. “Then Miranda—that’s Jack’s mother—called up to invite me ‘and a special friend,’ in that tone that people use when they think you can’t deliver.”
Diane nodded her head in the direction of the men. “Take Simon! Imagine showing up with a famous British photographer who’s probably hotter than any other guy there, that’d shut her up.”
“Oh, I asked him.” Charlotte paused, and shook her head. “He doesn’t have time.” She admired him as he talked, the way his hand moved to emphasize his point, the way he held his coffee cup. His shaggy gray-streaked blond hair took on an aura against the bright light of the window, and she imagined Simon Norwich as her personal St. George against the Dragon Lady Miranda. They’d been dating for the past three months, mostly meals out and attending university events together, but much remained undeveloped because of his work commitments. Even their dinner out the night before was, while pleasant, a bit brief.
“Oh c’mon, Norwich,” said Donovan Targman to Simon, who was reading a message on his phone and looking like he was about to leave. “We just got here.” Simon had given Donovan a ride.
Helene Dalmier, the eldest and most elegant, looked concerned. “Must you leave so soon, Simon?”
“I can give you a ride back, don’t worry,” Charlotte spoke to Donovan over the others’ chatter.
“Thanks, Charlotte.” He thumbed at Simon, who was texting something. “We can’t let the party pooper here spoil a good time.”
Simon looked up then, grabbing his coat. “I must run, work stuff, sorry to rush off.” He kissed Charlotte’s forehead and gave her shoulder a squeeze on his way out the door. “Have a good time, Charlotte, my best to Ellis. Happy Christmas, all.” His “happy” still sounded like “hoppy” to her Midwestern ears.
An Unexamined Wife by Meg Wolfe