Means to An End: Elizabeth Romero
Two women whose lives are bound together and who will never find their way to freedom as Marie Broudreaux pays a heavy price for one mistake that her family will never forgive. Imagine a round cage of iron and sitting within the confines of this cage with limited resources, little money and no means of escape. Like a circus master or slave owner you are treated to frequent beatings and abuse at the hand of the master or owner because you failed to meet their standards or because they felt like venting their anger on you. Ashby Devereaux lived her life in fear of her stepfather Garrett who reveled in torching her and her mother with his temper and brute force. Married to Garrett, Marie Broudreaux after her father literally sold her into bondage for being pregnant with twins pays a heavy price for her one big mistake.
Cruelty seemed to make him feel like a man and abusing Ashby and her brother Danny seemed to be his way of releasing his anger and tension. Drunk, a thief and not worth much of anything he wielded his intensions on his stepdaughter without any regard for the consequences or her feelings. But, one incident in school and one teacher would change it all and possibly give her the courage she needed to stand up to this man and much more.
Mrs. Bass seemed to realize what Ashby was enduring something at home but would not divulge anything to her or anyone else. When chosen to be Queen of the Carnival at school she realized that she would be the brunt of many insults of the popular girls because of her poor economic background and their enjoyment at being cruel. But, one young man named Bobby would change how she felt about herself but one incident would take it all away. With nowhere to turn at times and a mother who was addicted to drugs, always out of it and could barely hold her head up, this poor young girl living in the backwards mountains of North Carolina had to fend for herself and pray for her own salvation.
When Garrett is arrested and just a stint in jail she looks to this as a positive sign. But, a man named Johnny Mac, her stepfather’s friend wants to use her a collateral or payment for a debt he claims he owes him. But, Ashby has changed and something within her has fired up her and she will no longer allow anyone to use her for a punching bag or intimate fun. Where can she go and how will she escape his wrath? Finding something in her barn allows her the freedom she might need to leave and leave something for her mother to live on. But, before she has the chance to go she reveals something to her mother about Garrett, the incident turns ugly and the end result will send her far away from her home and never to return. As the cage begins to open and Ashby just might be finally free, something within her holds her back. Can she leave her mother to clean up the mess she created? Will the law come after her as we meet Ashby on her way to New Orleans to find her grandparents and learn more about the stories her mother would share with her and maybe connect with her long gone brother?
Can you hide from your past by changing who you are in the present? Will reinventing herself change who she really is? Can she hide forever? Finding herself all alone on the streets of New Orleans she is befriended by someone who directs her to a rooming house and hopefully a job. But, oversleeping gets her fired and another job comes to light as she moves to The Smoking House where she can either become one of the working girls or a maid. Opting to become a maid and befriended by Ms. Blanche the proprietor she draws the attention of a local judge whose heart she seems to have captivated. Given the option of remaining with Ms. Blanche or moving in with the judge a friend advises her as to what would keep her safe.
Getting to know the judge and wanting to please him kept Monique/Ashby content. But, in the back of her mind she knew that someone was after her and that the law might catch up with her and the end result could change things for her forever? Never thinking that the judge might know about her past or that this could be a setup from the start she moves into his home, is befriended by Corinne his maid and cook and the rest still remains to be seen. Abuse never leaves you and the fear of being with any man still gives her the chills.
As Monique/Ashby gets to know Bradley we can feel the undertone within their relationship allowing readers to know that smooth sailing is not in the cards for them as he enlists the help of someone to learn more about her but why? While she becomes more comfortable within her surroundings, closer to Bradley she still has the fear of being found out.
When the pieces of the intricate story start taking shape and form a pattern that sends the authorities in Monique’s direction she overhears a conversation and decides to runaway once more. With the help of her friend Bebet she hopes to remain hidden and safe but when Bradley forces both of their hands what will the final outcome be? With Danny now in the picture and the hope of learning more about her past what happens when we hear Marie’s words will surprise the reader as the truth comes to light.
One young girl living in fear for her life and afraid to confide in anyone even the one man she claims to love. Garrett was more than just an abusive and evil man he did things that would have brought the law down on him had someone not taken matters into their own hands first. When families are torn apart their lives cannot be sewn back together but one man was determined to give Monique the life he felt she so greatly deserved.
What is the fate of this young girl? Will the truth about Garrett’s death ever come out? What were Marie’s final words? When a parent cannot protect her children what happens will bring tears to the reader’s eyes when one startling revelation is revealed. An ending that is so filled with unexpected twists and surprises and a young girl whose life will never be the same as the Epilogue moves ahead and we learn about her future and hope the author will bring Monique Boudreaux back again. Sometimes we do things in order to create what some might say is the only way to survive or a Means to An End! This is one novel that brings to light what happens when secrets are kept, fear is instilled, abuse of many types are inflicted on so many and the end result can be tragic. Just what Monique does and where she is now you will have to learn for yourself and whether she winds up with Bradley and turns her life around fills the final pages of this five star novel and you will have to read that for yourself. Let’s hope the metal cage door opens and never closes again.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer