Sunday, December 15, 2013

If Only by Lisa M. Owens


An accidental slip on a patch of ice gives Bree Sexton the opportunity she has always dreamed of—a chance to go back in time and make things right, changing her life and her future. A poignant tale of second chances, and a woman’s fight to find her happily-ever-after.

What would you do if you had the opportunity to go back and relive your greatest mistake?

Five years ago, Bree Sexton walked out on her fiancé and into the arms of a charming and handsome stranger. She has regretted her decision ever since. Instead of a fairy-tale marriage, her “prince” shattered her dreams and her spirit with physical violence and emotional cruelty she barely escaped.

She then mysteriously wakes up in bed with the fiancé she loved and left, the life she’d dreamed of now a reality, until her cruel ex-husband reappears to destroy her new life. But what is real, and what is make-believe? Is she really getting the chance she has always dreamed of? And when it is all said and done, will she finally end up with the man she has always regretted leaving? Or will she wake up to discover herself alone?


If Only is dedicated to battered women and in the Dedication Ms. Owens says that if she can help even one woman to escape her abuser, she will be happy.  She then starts the book with her heroine, Bree Sexton, out with friends celebrating her divorce from her abuser becoming final.  How did Bree escape her abuser?  If her ex-husband, Bryan is as angry, violent and possessive as Ms. Owens portrays him, not to mention being a trust-fund baby with a father who will bail him out of any situation, how has Bree managed to get out of the house, live in the same town, under the same name, and divorce this madman?

Just two nights ago as I write this, a guy violated an order of protection, took his ex-girlfriend hostage, shot and critically wounded a cop, and was finally killed by members of a SWAT team.  Fortunately, the girl survived.  The way Ms. Owens wrote Bryan Sexton, I could see him pulling something like that if Bree tried to divorce him without running as fast and as far away as possible.

Ms. Owens does not explain any of that, which in my opinion is what an abused woman needs to read in order to free herself from a similar situation.  Instead, she starts the story when the divorce is final.  Bree slips on a patch of ice and wakes up in the arms of “the one who got away,” and the book becomes urban fantasy—pure escapism.

This is a first novel, so I could maybe forgive the fact that it is badly written with major gaps in continuity, major head-hops and poor grammar.  I can only forgive this because Ms. Owens actually went through a reputable publisher that is recommended on Preditors and Editors and not mentioned at all by Piers Anthony.  So, what became of her editor?

She keeps describing Scott Weston, the hero of the book as having calloused hands.  In her ideal life, Bree writes children’s books and Scott illustrates them.  How would his hands get calloused?  An artist might have a callous on his middle finger from holding a pencil or paint brush.  These days an illustrator would more likely get carpal tunnel syndrome from drawing on a computer with a mouse.  But calloused hands?  Not unless he does carpentry or brick-laying in his spare time.

Bryan Sexton is their publisher’s son and tries to beat and rape Bree at work.  She escapes and makes her way to the ER, and then home.  The next day during a snowball fight, Scott wonders why she left work early.  It took him a whole day to wonder about it?  He even takes her face in his hands being careful of her bruises when he kisses her.  She’s pregnant with their first child—he didn’t rush home to see what was wrong and how she was the minute he heard she left?  He never even asks her why she left work early or where the bruises came from.  That was a huge hole—one any editor worth his or her salt should have made sure got plugged.  What’s going on at Liquid Silver Books that they let something this bad get out the door?  As for head hops, Ms. Owens changes points of view in the middle of paragraphs, not just scenes.

It’s the job of the editor to fix these things.  Ms. Owens had really good intentions for this story, but she missed the mark by several miles.  It’s a shame she didn’t have an editor who was capable of reeling her back in.  Had she published independently, I would chide her for these problems.  Instead, I’m chiding Liquid Silver Books, whose job it was to see she received that quality of editing.

I’m sorry, Ms. Owens.  I don’t see how If Only can help anyone get away from her abuser, aside from helping her to dream of a better life.  Maybe that’s a first step, but it’s not practical.  Perhaps your next book will give more detail about how you filed for orders of protection, where you went when you left your abuser, and how you managed to stay safe from him if he came after you when you finally got away.  But I would request a better editor for that one.

Length:  147 Pages
Price:  $4.99
You’ll notice I always include the publisher’s buy link.  That’s because authors usually receive 40% of the book price from the publisher.  Editors and cover artists usually receive about 5%.  When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their cuts from what is left.  So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-Book and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40.  If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $0.83.

Downloading the file from your computer to your Kindle is as easy as transferring any file from your computer to a USB flash drive.  Plug the USB end of your chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from your “Downloads” box to your Kindle/Documents/Books directory.  I actually download my books using “Save As” to a “Books” file I created on my computer that’s sorted by my publisher, friends, and books “to review,” and then transfer them to my Kindle from there.  That way, if there’s a glitch with my Kindle, the books are on my computer.  Your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting.  RIW


  1. Hi Rochelle,
    I think you wrote a very thorough and honest review. I was impressed with it and also the fact that you gave the publisher's buy link to help the author.

  2. Seems like a lot of people think they can be editors nowadays. It's a hard job and not for everyone. Many books tell interesting stories but when the editing is bad, they're hard for readers to finish.

  3. It's bad enough when an indie author can't afford an editor, but when an author goes through a publisher and still doesn't get a good editor, it's a crime, really. This author wanted to do something good for people, and a good editor might have helped her expand the beginning and tweak it to manage that--not to mention the plot holes in the story she did tell.