Follow TBR on TwitterFollow TBR on Facebook

TBR Featured Review

Sex, drugs and rock and roll. What more does a novel need?

Be prepared to take a trip when reading When Life Was Like a Cucumber by Greg Wyss. This trip will be unlike any one you have ever taken before. That is unless you were in your 20s, living in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the East coast, more 

Book By Author:  Arby Corry

Heart-Shaped Stone
 Heart-Shaped Stone
 1499798407 978-1499798401



When CAILA DOMENICI rents a subterranean apartment in the Bronx and takes a job as a lowly receptionist, everyone worries. Everyone but Caila, that is. Over indulged and privileged, she is more than ready to break the shackles of her repressive existence and start anew. But Caila has no idea she’d done this many times before.


Unable to recall the last ten years of her life due to a car accident, she goes about it as if it’s her own. CHARMAINE, Caila’s meddlesome mother, thinks it’s hers, and she’ll stop at nothing to prove it. Nothing. Controlling, bitter and ever-envious of Caila’s relationship with her father, she believes she finally has her daughter right where she wants her. Charmaine even flexes her bank account, offering to pay for a penthouse apartment – right next to hers, of course – but Caila will not bend. Mother and daughter have never been close, and Caila, at thirty-two, can’t imagine why the sudden interest. She’s grateful her mother was there after awaking from the coma, but now she can’t seem to shake her, nor the creepy neurologist assigned to her case. More troubling still, earpiece-wearing men follow wherever she goes. Everything inside Caila says run, and that’s exactly what she’s planning to do – once she can save enough money. A return to her native California is what she’s been craving anyway, but minimum wage does not an escape plan make. In fact, she’s having trouble even making rent. Charmaine to the rescue is the last thing Caila needs, or wants.


Trying to gain some sort of semblance of independence, Caila makes a trek to downtown once a week. There, she climbs the steps of the seventy-something floors of the Columbia Tower knowing it’s the one place she cannot be followed. And the one place she feels completely free.


Her last trip to the tower’s observation deck comes on a particularly bitter January night. A few tourists here and there, Caila’s relieved she has the place mostly to herself. But when she catches a man approaching from the corner of her eye, she turns only to find she can’t stop staring. Like the wintery scene outside the oversized panes, the moment captures her breath. He’s so familiar. But Caila can’t be bothered. She must hurry home, shower and meet her mother for dinner lest the goon squad waiting on the street below grow suspicious. When the man strolls up beside her and strikes up a conversation, her mind spins with scenarios of bowing-out politely. A look into his azure eyes says dinner can wait. But when the small talk turns to a more personal nature, Caila’s ready to go. Before she can reach the elevators down button, he asks one last question. “When is the last time you saw your father?” Incensed, Caila turns to confront the stranger and is surprised to see he’s no longer alone. When her beloved father, SERGIO, steps into view, she can hardly move. She’s been told he’s dead. Seeing him again, Caila mistakenly believes it’ll be the biggest shock of the night. But when he reveals details of her life, the real life she was living before losing her memory, she feels validated and horrified all in the same instance. Caila, as her mother and father before her, is a highly skilled government assassin. Believed to have gone rogue, the CIA has been looking for her for a year now. Fortunately for Caila, they weren’t the only ones.

As she listens to the father who came to find her tell his tale, she’s as confused as ever knowing she grew up thinking her parent’s profession was abhorrent, never wanting to have anything to do with it, and cannot imagine what made her follow in their footsteps. As years of her life zip by in barely understood words, she is left with a choice – pretend this night never happened, or return with her father, and the stranger who, it turns out, is no stranger at all, to her rightful home. The choice is likely the easiest one she’s had to make all year.


Although happy to return to California at first, Caila quickly finds herself at odds with her new existence. Brought to live in a compound of sorts, Sergio explains that this way of life is necessary to keep the agents assigned to his team safe. Caila, as far as anyone is concerned, is still one of those agents. But it’s not her agency standing that keeps her locked behind secured gates, but rather her husband, REESE. Of all the things that Caila heard her father explain that night in the tower, being a married woman was almost the most shocking of all…almost. Caila is also a mother. Although grateful for being reunited with her son, she now feels closed in, surrounded daily by people she doesn’t understand, especially Reese. But with word that Charmaine is furious with her ex-husband and bent on revenge, Caila resolves herself to staying put…for now. One day, she knows, she'll bound from her prison, taking her son with her and leaving behind the stranger and the strange life she's married into.


Months go by and husband and wife grow even further apart. Caila knows she must’ve loved Reese at some point, really loved him by the looks of the pictures on the wall of their home, but none of it is clicking. Poised to take over the chief’s position from her father, Reese begins to treat Caila as a subordinate. She was put on probationary status some time ago and has no intention of restoring her “career.” And she certainly has no intention of letting him treat her this way. When Caila’s had enough, she asks for the one thing she does have control over – a divorce. Reese loves Caila and would do anything to make her happy, so he consents and moves into his old apartment at the compound. The freedom she thought she’d feel is not materializing and, stranger still, she misses his presence. But Caila is too stubborn to admit she might’ve been just a tad hasty. Resisting her father’s, and ex-teammates, attempts to reunite them, she presses on. Everyone wants to see them back together -- everyone but Reese, that is. Moving on all too easily, Caila can’t tell if she’s relieved or annoyed by his sudden disinterest. But when Reese starts dating in an attempt to get over her, she’s downright confused.


By this time Caila is allowed to leave the Topanga Canyon compound for brief periods of time and with Reese on the east coast for business, her father watching his grandson, she slips out for a few hours to herself. Intending only a beach day, her car seems to have a mind of its own and puts her on a path northward. When she arrives at the beach bungalows of Casitas Del Mar she instantly knows she’s been here before. The woman at the counter remembers Caila. Yes, she’s been here before – with Reese. After checking in for the night she scrambles over dunes and onto the hard, brown sand that her bare feet were once familiar with. In fact, everything suddenly seems familiar. The ocean air, the sandpipers, the bubbling sea-foam teasing her toes, the run…the run! Not too many years before she and Reese ran on this beach together. Not too many years before they stayed in bungalow five. Not too many years before she first hated the man she eventually fell in love with. In an instant, it all returns to her. And it was on this beach he stooped to retrieve a tiny heart-shaped rock. It was Caila’s greatest treasure, and she just realized she’d been passing it every day in a window sill of her home.


When Reese’s phone goes straight to voice-mail, Caila panics. Sergio, who is upset with her for not returning home, says Reese is out with his date. Caila leaves several voice-mails, but doesn’t dare tell Reese that she’s regained her memory. She waits to tell him in person. But when he eventually returns her call, she can’t help herself, and blurts it all out in one breathless confession. His reaction was not what she was expecting, or hoping. Catching him off guard, Reese can’t find the words and says he’ll call her back. Caila knows she must see him and bolts from her bungalow, straight to the airport. Somewhere along the way, their paths, unknowingly, cross. They are, incredibly, on their way to see each other.


Now, with Reese in California, and Caila in New York, she realizes she’s put herself at great risk stepping into the lion’s den that is her mother’s realm. But Caila’s covert ways have also come back to her and she’s sure Charmaine won’t know she’s there. Not able to locate Reese, Caila, exhausted from the experience, collapses onto her hotel bed and sleeps for several hours. Sure she’s in danger, Reese rushes back to New York but before he can catch up to her, Charmaine catches up to him. The unexpected meeting with the woman who’s made Sergio and Reese the object of her wrath and vengeance puts his life in peril. Sacrificing himself for the love of his wife, Reese doesn’t even put up a fight.


The next morning Charmaine brazenly, and arrogantly, arrives at her daughter’s hotel. Caila, knowing now Reese is on his way, arrives in the lobby expecting to see him. When she sees her mother instead, she instantly knows she’s lost her husband forever. It’s then that Caila realizes the depths to which her mother will sink, and that her car accident was no accident at all.


Before Reese left California, a sweet little hand put a heart-shaped rock into his. JAMES, in all his four-year-old wisdom, instructed his father to give the rock to his mother. Before year’s end Caila will somehow find herself holding that rock once again. 

Date Reviewed:   



Lose yourself in this romance thriller adventure.


Caila is a strong heroine in the novel Heart-Shaped Stone by Arby Corry. She cannot remember the past 10 years because of a horrendous car accident and lives her days in New York, in her small apartment. She desperately wants to remember her past, but her doctors and over protective mother, Charmaine, want her to get on with life. Charmaine is a powerful woman who has constant surveillance on her daughter. Not only to keep tabs on Caila, but also to protect her… from the CIA! Caila can sense that there is a dangerous dark part of her past and also a nagging sense that she has met someone worth knowing and can’t remember. There are pieces of her missing and she needs to solve the puzzle of her past.

The author, Corry, weaves a complex web of intrigue and self-reflection through the main character Caila. She is thrown into the reality of her past one night and confronted by family. This is shocking because she does not have the historical context of trust, emotions and connections that we all take for granted in our lives. She is alone, surrounded and forced to replay her old life. Only this old life has a key piece of the puzzle. His name is Reece and that is just the beginning. Caila feels an immediate attraction and even more confusion. Does she want to pursue this attraction or protect herself from the unknown past?

Deftly written, Heart-Shaped Stone entertains the reader with well thought out characters, tendrils of suspense and deceit, and a love story that makes you root for the heroine in her quest to get her life back and the truth of her past. I enjoyed the novel and it was difficult to review and not give away anything as a spoiler. Be prepared for a wild ride of emotions.


Author Details

Back to author listing and Review search

Arby Corry Author:  Arby Corry