Wendy Corsi Staub demonstrates the fallacy of the adage that time heals all wounds in Hell To Pay (Avon: Sept. 27, 2011 release), the final book in her Live To Tell trilogy. Lucy Walsh and Jeremy Cavalon learn that fifteen years are not sufficient to separate them from the past tragedies that have plagued their families.
Scared to Death, the second book in Staub’s trilogy, revealed Jeremy’s background. His biological father, Garvey Quinn, had persuaded Marin, Jeremy’s mother, to give him up for adoption at birth. At age seven, after being adopted by Elsa and Brett Cavalon, Jeremy was kidnapped. He then spent fourteen years in the care of a child molester, a man he knew only as “Papa.”
Live To Tell, the trilogy’s debut novel, chronicled the events affecting Lucy, the daughter of Lauren and Nick Walsh. To prevent evidence of his misdeeds from reaching the public, the politically ambitions Quinn arranged for Lucy and her brother and sister to be abducted. Lucy’s father was killed as well, causing Quinn to be sent to prison, where he later died.
Hell To Pay finds Lucy and Jeremy, now married, anxiously awaiting the birth of their child. Lucy’s happiness at the upcoming event is tinged with fear – her two earlier pregnancies were unsuccessful. Jeremy, now a counselor for troubled youths, still has demons from his own past that he has yet to confront.
Jeremy and Lucy are further threatened when a rare earthquake hits the North East, allowing a female prisoner at the Bridgebury Correctional Facility to escape. Through Jeremy and Lucy, the woman sees a heaven-sent opportunity for revenge against the Walsh and Cavalon families by making their child her own.
In an article published in the February 2010 issue of Suspense Magazine, Wendy Corsi Staub expressed her continuing interest in themes that reflect domestic concerns. “Many of my books aren’t technically “romantic suspense,” in that there is often no central romantic conflict – not in the sense of a hero and heroine falling in love in the course of the plot, anyway,” she pointed out. “I’m much more likely to delve into issues involving marital love and parenting and familial trust.”
All three of these issues provide the core of Staub’s Live To Tell books. Hell To Pay offers a fitting conclusion to that trilogy. Like the previous generation of Cavalons and Walshes, Lucy and Jeremy learn that there is nothing they will not do to save the life of their child.
FTC disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by HarperCollins.