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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Ashes of Despair by Mary Schaller follows Elinor Longacre DeMartini (Elly), a nurse who finds her life turned upside down when an unexpected inheritance embroils her into events she has no control over. The head attorney of Longacre estate, Arnold Smith, notifies Elly that she has inherited the Longacre estate due to her grandfather leaving everything in her name after the death of her half-sister, Anette. Unbeknownst to Elly, however, Arnold is conspiring with a couple of other board members to swindle Elly out of her inheritance. Soon, Elly is forced to seek protection due to a shocking kidnapping and an attempt on her life. Meanwhile, her fifteen-year-old son catches HIV after having sexual relations with an older man. Additionally, her cousins Hank and Leland have motives of their own. Who can Elly truly trust?
If you're a fan of soap operas or telenovela-style storytelling, you're going to love Ashes of Despair. Set at the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, Mary Schaller's tale perfectly captures the attitude of the general public toward people from the LGBTQ community during that era. Filled with drama, romance, and action, Ashes of Despair provides plenty of thrills with twists and turns so that you can't help but turn the pages with eager anticipation of what's to come. The plot is fast-paced with a large cast of characters. The characters have strong personalities and remain true to their traits until the end. I found the ending a bit surprising yet satisfying nonetheless. I will recommend Ashes of Despair to readers who love serialized dramas.