Have you ever met anyone who made you feel as if you were on the wildest rollercoaster ride ever? I just did.
About a month ago I made a date with Paige Preston, Dallas socialite, addict, and, well, let’s just keep this PG and say she gets around. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I finally got to meet her today. But I had been waiting in anticipation.
I’d heard a lot about her from a couple of other people who’d met her already. Beth Teliho, author of Order of Seven, told me to prepare to have my mind blown. She wasn’t wrong. Right now, my brain is reeling.
But who is Paige Preston, you ask? You’ve never heard of her?
Paige is the main character in Mandi Castle’s new book Dear Stephanie, released May 11 by Castle Press. Mandi, like Beth and I, hails from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I only recently was introduced to Mandi through her blog, Cellulite Looks Better Tan. I love her posts. I find them smart and witty, and I always enjoy reading them. And then I found out she had a book coming out. She sent out a request asking for people with blogs to read her book and to write a review or host an interview, etc. As a believer in building each other up and paying it forward, I volunteered. I was really excited. I knew she was a pretty good writer from her blog posts, but what I didn’t know was whether or not her story would be my ‘type’ of story. And, so today, I began Dear Stephanie.
I’ll admit it. The prologue really had me concerned that this was NOT going to be my type of book at all. Visions of 50 Shades of Grey began running through my head (and I haven’t read the book or seen the movie), and I began to fear that I was going to have to force myself to get through this book. After all, I promised to help. But the old adage of not judging a book by it’s cover, or prologue in this case, held true. By chapter two I was all in. Paige Preston held me, a willing prisoner.
Ms. Castle has written an incredible story of addiction, rape, sex, suicide, drugs, and total loss. As someone who doesn’t take people at face value, I connected immediately with Paige. Her emotional distancing with humor and sarcasm struck me right in the middle of my own personality. Her direct demeanor with people, and the way she thought she was being direct and honest with herself, felt like an ice cold drink thrown in my face. I completely related. And then, as the story went on, it struck right at the very heart of my soul. Let’s just say, there is more than one moment I felt the story was talking about my life, though mine has definitely had a much happier ending than Paige’s did.
Paige is a complex and intriguing character. At first, you don’t want to like her. She’s beautiful and rich and knows it. And she’s a total manipulator. But as you look deeper into her psyche, you see the lost and lonely little girl she was in the troubled, addicted woman. By the time the book ended, all I wanted was to take her in my arms and try to take her pain away. Paige won me over, not by her own manipulative ways, but by her vulnerability. Ms. Castle did an outstanding job of creating Paige Preston. She’s believable, relatable, and she drew me in thoroughly. And the ending…Mandi, you’d better be planning a sequel. I want more.
Go buy Dear Stephanie. It’s worth the read.