It was late January when I got my grubby little mitts on Deceptive Cadence, and the sequel, Diverging Cadence. REUTS Editor Kisa Whipkey gave me a brief overview of the two books so I could read ahead, get familiar with author Katie Hamstead’s work, and see if I’d be interested in working on the line edits. I’d received the files on a Friday, and figured I could work my way through the manuscripts over the course of the week.
It was January, in the Northeast. I’m fairly certain it was snowing, but definitely really bloody cold out. I woke up around five in the morning on Saturday, created PDFs of the manuscripts, and, still in my pajamas, started reading. I was still reading when my husband woke up later that morning, I resumed reading after breakfast, and I was still in my pajamas at about six that night after finishing the first book. The next day, Sunday, went exactly the same, except for the book hangover that occurred in the late afternoon when I finished book two, and when realized I was still in my pajamas for the second day running.
The Deceptive Cadence you may have read (and if you didn’t, please do) is clearly not the same version I first encountered—but the heart of the story remains unchanged. Our choices, great and small, can have a profound influence not only on our lives, but also on the lives of others.
Hamstead explores this notion in the life of Cadence, who wakes up in the hospital after an earthquake claims the life of her husband, Austin, and daughter, Melody. As she grows despondent, an angel appears with a proposition: she can go back in time to change her life or continue living her life now. She assumes that she can use this opportunity to save her family, and agrees, provided she tells no one what has happened or what will happen. The angel transforms her into her fourteen-year-old self, and Cadence begins her teenage years all over again.
Being fourteen but having the wisdom of a 25-year-old is an advantage many of us wishes we had growing up in high school. Cadence slowly realizes she wasn’t the best daughter, sister, friend—many of her adult-life estrangements were because of her choices during high school, so she sets out to reverse them.
Sometimes, you see flashbacks between the way things were and how Cadence alters them. At times, you may think Cadence is being self-serving by changing her past to improve her future, but that’s not the case. She genuinely wants to do right this time around—she has five years to go until she meets and marries Austin—and the love she has for her family and friends shines through as she mends the relationships that are showing signs of fracturing.
But, her new choices begin to affect more people than were involved in her life before. She gets the attention of James Gordon, a “bad boy” from the grade above her. James changes to prove his worth to her, and seeing examples from Cadence’s original timeline and the present show the true impact of Cadence’s choices. Even though the choices James makes on his part are all his own—a theme that gets mentioned several times—he does it with Cadence in mind. This becomes fascinating to watch unfold—many of Cadence’s actions up until this point are done with Austin and Melody in mind, and, slowly, she begins to include James in her life as well.
I am not a romance-y kind of reader, but I fell in love with Hamstead’s characters. Cadence, as the narrator, is easy to read, and you grow to love her more as she realizes her original faults and failings and sets out to correct her past behavior. She fights so hard against falling for James, but as he cleans up his life, you can’t help yourself from falling for him at the same time. Cadence’s family and friends are all real people—a moody older sister, an overprotective yet doting father, a caring mother, a goofy younger brother, a loyal, devoted girlfriend—and through Cadence’s interactions with them, we see their lives improve for the better, cementing the strong family bonds that Cadence lacked in her later life. And, though the story begins with the deaths of Austin and Melody, you see the love Cadence still bears for them throughout the book. This capacity for love, something she didn’t know she was capable of at first, affects everyone’s lives once Cadence travels back through time.
So, as summer’s just starting, sitting inside and reading in your pajamas may not be realistic. Pack yourself some iced tea and some sunscreen and sit out on the deck or spend the day by the pool. This is an excellent, single-sitting read, and though I hope you’ll be clamoring for Diverging Cadence (which will be out later this summer) once you reach the end, Deceptive Cadence will leave you satisfied until then.
About Deceptive Cadence:
Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .
Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.
Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determined to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.
But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.
Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?
About Katie Hamstead:
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dogs.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.