Author Alexandra Allred offers unique insight into Texas women with their rough-hewn edges, quirks, and diverse backgrounds. In her newest novel, Damaged Goods, she peels back the layers of grit and toughness, revealing to readers the tender hearts and souls of some unsung heroines of the Lone Star State, where politics is a contact sport.
Although this delicious novel opens with a bang at a socialite wedding in the Hamptons, the rest of the story is set in the small town of Marcus, Texas. At first glance, Marcus is not too much different than any other sleepy little spot-on-the-map Texas town. With the rich character development provided, a simpler plot would've sufficed and been an enjoyable read. However, there is another level to this book. As the characters reveal themselves in first and third person, the dark side of this little town begins to reveal itself, too. Through Allred's artful storytelling, a mesmerizing tale of a modern day David and Goliath emerges, and socialite divorcee Joanna Lucas finds herself smack dab in the middle of a fight she never bargained for. Her misadventures in life have brought her here, and the people she meets are somewhat frightening and endearing.
"Who'd do that?" Paul asked incredulously, looking around. The land was barren. Beyond the mesquite, sparse Texas brush, and the occasional jackrabbit, there was nothing.
"Someone who wants trouble." Frank sighed. "And trouble they're gonna get."
Frank tucked the canister under his arm and began his trek back to the truck. Paul followed - both men high stepping over cactus and mesquite.
"I don't know how much more you want to do," Paul shouted, not taking his eyes from the rough terrain. "We got security 24-7."
Well, it ain't workin'," Frank hollered back over his shoulder.
Behind them, FFI billowed great clouds of smoke.
"So, what do you have in mind?" Paul huffed. He was losing his breath. Man, but he hated this heat.
"I got some ideas," Frank said. As they neared the fence line, the mesquite thinned out, and he resumed a normal gate. "I got some traps."
Paul stopped in his tracks and watched the back of his friend for a moment.
"What?" he shouted at Frank's back.
Frank turned. "Traps. I got some traps."
"Your bear traps? Those iron-clamp things?" Paul laughed out loud. It was absurd. Insane. But Frank wasn't laughing.
Paul took a few more steps, then stopped.
"Frank. Have you lost your mind? You can't set traps for. . . for humans."
Frank reached his truck and opened the driver's side, placing the canister inside. "I'm not setting anything for humans." Franks voice was almost a whisper. "That would be irresponsible and illegal. I'm setting traps for the wild boars that've been tearing up FFI's land."
Paul picked his way through the rest of the mesquite and circled around the truck. He wasn't interested in any more conversation until he could climb into the cab, crank the air-conditioning, and catch his breath.
"You're crazier 'n hell." Paul hefted himself onto the seat and groaned as he leaned back, closed his eyes, and drew in a deep breath. "You can't go settin' traps for anything out here."
"Why not? This is private property, and I got no reason to believe there are humans out here. I got wild hog troubles. That's it. And I'm going to set my traps."
As Frank turned the key in the ignition, Paul rolled his head to the side and looked at his friend. He almost believed Frank would do it.
There is no 'filler fluff' in Damaged Goods. Threading through concurrent stories and a rich mix of townsfolk, plus a few 'outsiders', Allred brings out the best, and the worst, of what really happens behind closed doors. Savor every single paragraph and become immersed in this playful, riveting, and heart-wrenching portrait of girlfriends just trying to live their lives, and discovering that they alone must battle to save their town from the menace of insatiable, blinding greed.
Damaged Goods is due to be released by publisher The Writer's Coffee Shop on October 11, 2012. It is available for pre-order and purchase here: