Designing Hearts
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Book Info:
Camel Press
Publication date:
June 1, 2015

Designing Hearts

Jill Hennessy is the envy of women everywhere. She has a flourishing interior design business, a handsome celebrity talk show host husband, and two successful adult sons. Then, suddenly, the entire world knows her "perfect" marriage is a lie. Jill learns the truth via a televised news flash exposing David's affair with his young assistant. Her illusion of being in control of her life is shattered, and she can finally see the cracks in her husband's shiny persona: his increasing distance from their family life, his self-absorption, his flagrant disapproval of their gay son. As Jill struggles to come to terms with her new reality, David pours on the charm that drew her in to begin with. Can she forgive him and rededicate herself to his happiness and their family life, even if that means losing Denny, a respected artist who has the potential to be her true soul mate? Jill is an expert in feng shui, a system of organization and color in the home meant to optimize life's possibilities. She has a rare talent for putting her clients on the road to health, wealth, and happiness. Can she work these same miracles for herself?

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Foreword Review

This glitzy yet surprisingly down-to-earth novel about a high-profile marriage on the rocks explores all the typical cliffs and crevices then plunges into the blue waters of a new relationship. Robin Strachan's aptly titled Designing Hearts pits a successful feng-shui interior designer against a philandering talk-show host.

A thriving businesswoman, Jill Hennessy lacks nothing except a lover she can trust. Immersed in his own career, her husband, David, enjoys a tighter bond with his assistant than with his wife. Then the love of Jill's life arrives on the tumultuous scene-an artist with a heart of platinum. Just as Jill learns to distance herself from her estranged spouse, David returns to make amends. Torn between loyalty and love, she must make the most difficult choice of her life.

Far from feeling repelled by the idea of lovemaking after her husband's betrayal, she longed for it, missed what she had enjoyed during her many years with David. Whenever Denny was near, she had a yearning to be held by him.

Julia Ann Charpentier (Fall 2015)

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Read Johnstown Review

Johnstown Review

"Designing Hearts" is a fictional romance novel written by Robin Strachan, a Johnstown native. Strachan began her writing career as a reporter, specializing in feature stories. This book is her second published novel and she is currently working on a third. Also a published poet and professional artist, Strachan resides in Chicago.

The novel takes place in Stamford, Connecticut, with New York City and the surrounding areas also playing a part in the storyline. Designing Hearts focuses on main character, Jill Hennessy, a 49-year-old interior designer and feng shui expert.

The book begins when Jill finds out that her American heartthrob and celebrity talk show host husband, David Hennessy, has had an affair. After 25 years of marriage, Jill learns of Davidís infidelity on a tabloid television program. This devastating news leads to Jill kicking David out of their Stamford home, giving her time to think about what her next move will be divorce or forgiveness.

Jill goes to her family for help after finding out about the infidelity. Her mother and twin sons all have different ideas of what she should do but provide love and support for her throughout the ordeal. Jill's relationship with Liam and Finn, her sons, becomes stronger. Liam, the gay son that David disapproves of, especially adds drama to the storyline.

If the affair isnít enough change in her life, Jill, an individual with a phobia of public speaking, agrees to teach a class on feng shui at the local community college. Feng shui is a Chinese system of design that focuses on the placement of rooms and dťcor in a home. The goal of feng shui is to allow energy to flow freely throughout the house, maximizing the living space and helping the home owners achieve their desires. The system follows a chart made up of nine blocks that correspond to each area of a home.

Jill learns to enjoy teaching the class, getting over her fear of public speaking. She also creates relationships with each of her students. Each student desires something different, these desires range from fertility and the curing of cancer in a loved one to hoping to travel to Italy or having a house finally sell on the market. Through the help of the feng shui principles, Jill does her best to assist each individual, even providing a personal home consultation to each student to help them directly. Through the process of teaching the class, Jill learns from her students as much as they learn from her.

The feng shui class helps the book move along, giving it a structure to follow. It seems that as a feng shui concept is explained, focus is put on a particular student and area of Jillís life to go along with the topic. This creates in-depth character profiles that allow the reader to connect to the characters.

Jill eventually becomes interested in Denny MacBride, a Scottish artist and interior design painter for her business firm. He and Jill are attached to each other almost immediately and begin seeing each other gradually. MacBride supports Jill and shows her that new beginnings are possible.

Jill experiences her ups and downs throughout the book, but never forgets who she is as an individual. This makes her stronger and with the help of her feng shui students, Jill realizes that sometimes helping others is just what is needed to help yourself.

This novel is a great representation that change can be sudden and unexpected. However, with the ability to stay true to yourself, anything can be overcome.

Katie Lipko, Johnstown Magazine (August 2015)

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Read RT Book Review

RT Book Review

Strachan's novel is raw and real, and it has the undeniable potential to tug on readers' heartstrings. This novel would make a great book club choice because the topics tackled are emotional and need to be discussed out loud with a friend. For some, this story about betrayal and new beginnings may hit home fairly hard, but for others they may turn a blind eye to it due to uncomfortable situations dealing with distrust and marital troubles. Nonetheless, it's beautifully written and worth holding on till the end.

Jaime A. Geraldi, RT Book Reviews (June 2015)

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