In her years of acting the perfect wife to Marc, Jill had built walls around herself so high that nobody could reach her. Now she has no money, nowhere to live and a future as uncertain as it was the day Marc first asked her—the shy, trusting new assistant—to lunch. Jill hadn’t known then what sort of man he really was…
When Jill Goodman’s picture-perfect marriage implodes, she’s heartbroken. Still reeling from the shock, the only thing she receives in the hasty divorce settlement is the deed to her husband’s sprawling beach house on the New Jersey shore. Overpriced, with a dark history and a crippling mortgage far outside her means to pay—the house is a symbol of everything Jill’s lost. She hates the sight of it, but knows she must face it if she’s to move on.
With no other choice, Jill travels to Dewberry Beach intending to sell the house quickly—but the task is not as easy as she expects. Still, she can’t help but be charmed by the little town’s leafy streets, sweetly old-fashioned ways and even the unexpected attentions of a handsome local with dark eyes and a teasing smile. For the first time, she can see a path back to the girl she was before she met her husband…
Then Jill dives deeper into the house’s dark past and Marc’s part in it, and she stumbles across a terrible secret that changes everything. Torn between the right choice and the easy one, Jill realizes the key lies with her ex-husband. But he would do anything to keep the truth from coming to light…
An emotionally gripping read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night, perfect for fans of Amanda Prowse, Elin Hilderbrand and Diane Chamberlain.
Goodreads Rating: ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️
The Girl I Used to Be by Heidi Hostetter is the perfect beach or pool read.
What I Loved
I loved the mystery and suspense. It is why I finished this novel in one sitting. I desperately wanted to know if the bad guy was going to get what he had coming. That is how well the characters are developed. You just want justice to prevail for all of those that were wronged. Jill, the main character, is a Jersey girl from South Jersey. Only three years after she married the man of her dreams, Jill realizes that all the changes he insists she makes for him mean she is not his dream girl. And then she is slapped with a reality that she can’t ignore, and it makes her open her eyes to the fact that she hasn’t recognized it. This just begins a string of unearthed secrets and despicable deeds that rock her to the core.
I love how Jill picks herself up and opens her eyes to what she had become and what she wants to be. The strength she shows as the story unfolds is so admirable I couldn’t help but be in her corner from beginning to end. She is well-developed with intricate layers that tell her personal story in a relatable and genuine way.
The setting is the Jersey shore, and I always love a beach setting. I wanted a house on the beach for Jill almost as much as I want one for myself. This also kept those pages quickly turning as I tried to see if she figured out a way to make her dream happen.
I loved the themes of friendship and community that hold this story together and give it a heartwarming feel. Ellie is the friend that we all should have and hopefully, do. A friend who is there by your side through thick and thin and helps you realize your dreams before you even admit that it is indeed a dream. She is someone that makes things happen without barreling over anyone in the process. And, the community of Dewberry Beach is one I wanted to join and never look back. They are slightly quirky and welcoming in all-natural ways.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are looking for the perfect weekend or vacation read, The Girl I Used to Be is all that and more.
Heidi Hostetter is a proud Jersey Girl, born and raised. Growing up, she spent summers at her grandparents’ house on the shore, in a town much like the one she writes about in her novels, and it was idyllic. The New Jersey shore has a culture all its own, where every magical thing can be found: sparklers on the beach, fireflies at night, and whole days swimming in the ocean.
She went to college in South Carolina and found inspiration for her Lowcountry Novels. After graduation, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she developed an appreciate the rain. Trips to the Oregon coast inspired her award-winning Inlet Beach novels. She and her family have recently moved back across the country, to the DC-area, where history is everywhere. They live in a one-hundred-year-old house that’s definitely haunted and feels like inspiration for a really good story.
When she’s not writing, you can probably find her digging in her garden or poking around old houses for inspiration. She loves the beach, a good podcast, and is always up for a trip to a bookstore, no matter how far away.
Heidi is currently at work on her new novel. She shares office space with a labradoodle named Emmett who keeps are careful watch for errant squirrels foolish enough to wander into his yard. She loves to hear from readers and answers all her own mail. You can find her here: