Annie & Charlotte

The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
148 Pages
Reviewed on 09/08/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Annie & Charlotte: The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington by Irene Woodbury was a sneaky-but-nice surprise! In Annie & Charlotte, just as Roxy is about to walk up the aisle, she learns her fiance was married twice before, and both his young brides, Annie and Charlotte, are long dead and buried! Is the man of her dreams jinxed? Is he a murderer? Is she going to suffer a similar fate? Roxy is not going to wait to find out.

Of course, the romantics amongst us will be eagerly anticipating what will happen next, but the more curious readers will want to know what happened before. And that’s why I stated above that Annie & Charlotte: The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington is a sneaky-but-nice surprise. The plot is engrossing, and the characters are realistic, likable, and relatable. Dialogue is plentiful, and the pace fast. The writing style is friendly and enjoyable. Annie and Charlotte’s unusual and unfortunate demises are explained, leaving us just dying (for lack of a better word) to see what will happen to Roxy in Honeymoon Roulette. Irene Woodbury's ending was initially frustrating, but in hindsight, it was really clever marketing. Genius!

Edith Wairimu

After learning of her fiancé’s dark, horrifying past, the upset bride runs away. Annie & Charlotte - The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington by Irene Woodbury revisits the groom’s tragic past as he tries to solve the mysteries of his dead wives and convince his fiancée of his innocence. Fifteen years ago, Connor’s wife died during their honeymoon, just twelve days into their marriage. His second marriage to a wealthy society girl, Charlotte Krump, ended in a shocking accident. Years later, the deaths of Annie and Charlotte still haunt Connor. He visits key people and analyzes the events surrounding each of their deaths to find out more information. As he uncovers the past, Connor hopes he has gathered enough evidence to convince his fiancée to return to him.

The short story is engaging from the start. In the first scene, Roxy finds out about Connor’s perturbing background on their wedding day. He tries to explain the details, but Roxy, feeling betrayed, is unwilling to listen. Annie's and Charlotte’s deaths are covered in series of flashbacks. Their harrowing accidents are recounted as Connor tries to dig for more information about each wife. However, I found the story’s pace too swift, and certain scenes are brushed over, such as Roxy’s abduction and her experiences as a hostage. The final scene is also rushed. The details that Connor uncovers in Charlotte’s case do not introduce new information. Still, Annie & Charlotte by Irene Woodbury is a captivating short story with a fascinating storyline.

Jon Michael Miller

Annie & Charlotte: The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington by Irene Woodbury is a double novella combining the stories of how Connor lost two wives in the space of four years. Connor is the son of a successful construction mogul in Denver, Colorado, and the setup of the book involves a third wife-to-be, Roxy, who takes off the day of her wedding to Connor in Vegas’s Caesar’s Palace. She runs because Connor withheld the fate of his first two brides in fear that Roxy would run if she found out. She finds out just as the wedding ceremony is about to begin. She and her best friend are soon thereafter kidnapped and forced into slave labor at a Nevada alfalfa ranch. Then follows separate expanded accounts of Connor's two former wives, Annie and Charlotte, the deaths of whom made Connor a suspect of law enforcement.

Ms. Woodbury’s prose is clear and direct, controlled exclusively by the story's omniscient narrator who skips from character to character as Connor seeks the truth of both deaths. He tries to gather sympathetic witnesses to vouch for his innocence with Roxy, whom he hopes will return to him somehow. There are some terrific descriptions of catfights, fashions, architecture, home décor, hairstyles, Colorado, Chicago, and even a prison. We root for Connor as he ardently unearths the truth of what caused the tragic deaths of Annie and Charlotte and as he wends through his search for true love, all the while longing for Roxy’s return so that he can explain to her that he did not murder his former wives. Annie & Charlotte: The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington by Irene Woodbury is a fun and easy read which is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Annie & Charlotte: The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington is a work of dramatic fiction by Irene Woodbury. Roxy is about to walk down the aisle in the arms of the man of her dreams, but her parents, after hiring a private detective, have discovered that the groom - wealthy, handsome Connor - has a dark past. He’s been married before and both marriages, one to Annie and the other to Charlotte, ended in their tragic deaths shortly after their marriage to Connor. It’s unsettling, but what disturbs Roxy the most is that Connor never told her about the previous marriages. She runs away and ends up kidnapped and held captive at a ranch where she’s expected to do menial labor. Meanwhile, Connor is distraught, but after multiple attempts to find Roxy, he feels defeated. Friends try to encourage him to start dating again, but even that fails. Will the two meet again?

Irene Woodbury’s short story, Annie & Charlotte: The Dead Wives of Connor J. Barrington, is a sidebar to the author’s recently published novel, Honeymoon Roulette. The story is told mostly in narrative storytelling form with minimal dialogue. The plot primarily follows Connor’s story as he delves into the mysterious deaths of his previous wives in the hopes of coming clean to prove to Roxy that he wasn’t a threat. There is some development in Roxy’s story as she escapes the wedding and ends up being kidnapped and held against her will at a ranch. The two subplots converge toward the end of the story, but there are some loopholes in the telling which may be more thoroughly developed in the novel. This is an interesting story.