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“A riveting tale of subterfuge, betrayal, and retribution set among the glittering world of New York’s elite.” —Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

The name of the game is revenge—no matter the cost—in this emotionally charged thriller reminiscent of The Wife Between Us and The Perfect Nanny.

Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the exact moment in her life when things veered off course—the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on television, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.

Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.

No one, that is, except Kerrie.

Exploring just how far someone will go for vengeance, Pretty Revenge is “a fun, twisty thrill ride about the dark side of female friendship” (PopSugar).

Pretty Revenge 1 KERRIE
It felt like I’d been in that same spot for sixteen consecutive days, with a bottle of vodka and a large red Solo cup on the side table next to me. I’d watched three seasons of Toddlers & Tiaras, at least fifteen old episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and I’d endured roughly twenty-six commercials peddling drugs that treated depression, enough to know that I didn’t have it, even though I wished there was a pill that could fix me. I’d lost my job, my purpose, and I had absolutely no idea what to do next. Just another demoralizing setback in my thirty short years.

“How long have you been out here?” Matthew emerged from the bedroom in too-tight white boxer briefs, grinding his eyes with his fists like a toddler. To say that Matthew is my boyfriend would be an overstatement. But to say he’s my roommate wouldn’t be right either. You know, because of the sex.

“I don’t know.” I shrugged, turning my attention back to the TV and silently praying that he wouldn’t sit too close to me. His morning breath is unforgivable. I’ve just never cared enough to tell him.

“Do you want something to eat?” He reached his stubby fingers beneath the waistband of his underwear to claw at his ass and pick at God knows what. “One of my famous omelets?” He suggested, in a transparent attempt to lift my spirits. I might have been tempted if I didn’t know where his hand had just been.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Okay.” He left it at that, padding his way slowly into our cube-size kitchen with its lazy lighting and tearful faucets.

“Do you know what’s amazing?” I called after him, without diverting my attention from last week’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

“What’s that?” he projected over the booming television—I prefer it loud, so Matthew doesn’t feel compelled to make small talk.

“Kim Kardashian has no actual talent.”

“Uh-huh.” He came back into the room and sat down next to me on our weary brown sofa.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I think so.”

Clearly, he didn’t.

“My point is: she has this whole empire now. Clothing lines. Makeup. Perfume. You name it. And she got it just by being pretty and rich. I mean, obviously not as rich as she is now, but it’s not like she’s an actress or a musician. I bet she can’t even carry a tune. Right?”

“Sure. I guess so.” He agreed as a matter of habit. That’s the nice thing about Matthew, he doesn’t demand brainpower from his companions. I don’t have to discuss current events, politics, losing my job, missing my nana, or my dead parents. I can just be. I can rot my brain streaming reality shows for twelve hours at a clip without any judgment at all. If you think about it, it’s a gift. No pressure whatsoever.

“Maybe if I had an ass like hers . . .” I trailed off and Matthew remained silent, as he so often does. I looked at him then. He was smiling cautiously with his mouth closed. That smile made me feel sorry for him.

“I’m gonna go make breakfast.” He headed back into the kitchen.

When I first met Matthew, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I’d dated only one guy before him. Skeeter, an unemployed douche bag whose motley fragrance—a blend of cigarettes, cinnamon-flavored gum, and Suave hair gel—kindled a clammy sensation between my thighs. As time went on, I realized that I might not be the only girl in Skeeter’s life, and therefore was not actually his girlfriend. So I did what anyone else would do. I nosed through his text messages while he was in the shower. And there was my answer spelled out in the form of a sext-chain with our former classmate Angelina Delorian. I was humiliated, but not altogether surprised. I thought about sneaking into Angelina’s apartment and filling her shampoo bottle with Elmer’s glue, but then I remembered what my nana always told me: “Senseless revenge will whip its neck and snap you on the bottom.” And that was the last thing I needed.

After that, I conditioned myself to be content with whatever circumstances life dealt me. That’s why, when I came upon Matthew in front of the deli counter at the unsavory mini-mart next door to my old office, where most of the meat was an insipid shade of gray, I allowed him to strike up a conversation with me.

He’d been rocking from toe-to-heel and humming a tune I couldn’t quite make out as he studied the chalkboard of that day’s specials. What struck me immediately about Matthew was how nice he was. To everyone. Even Vito, the petulant busboy who limped around wiping down tables and muttering expletives under his breath.

I just stood there watching Matthew and his niceness, until he turned to me and said, “I like the way you ordered. Methodically.” Then—just as my gaze fixed on the mortadella and its constellation of yellowing fat—he smiled genuinely and asked, “Would you like to have lunch with me?”

“Uh, okay,” I replied, even though there was nothing sexy about the request.

I needed a man who wanted to pursue me. A man who was reliably in my corner. A man who—just by loving me—validated me to the rest of the world. And I hoped that Matthew would be that man.

Unfortunately, he never exactly lived up to that ideal.

“Do you want to maybe do something today?” He reappeared with a plate full of soggy eggs and a thinning cord of American cheese glued to his chin.

“Like what?” I asked, somewhat defensively.

“I don’t know. Like go outside?” he offered. “I know you’re super bummed about losing your job, but you can’t just watch TV forever.” He was right, of course. So I ignored him.

I wish I could say that my relationship is fueled by thrill and passion. I wish I was waiting on pins and needles for him to call. I wish I had a chafing itch to analyze his every thought. The problem is, Matthew has nothing to withhold. What you see is what you get. We exist in each other’s worlds, which has been fine until now. Maybe losing my job forced me to examine what else is left in my life.

There’s nothing wrong with my relationship. We never fight. We never even bicker.

For this reason, I’m sure that what happened next on that run-of-the-mill Sunday morning just as I’d switched the channel to Access New York came as an unwelcome intermission in Matthew’s humdrum existence.

“Are you okay?” he asked. My skin must have blanched, because he actually noticed that something wasn’t right. “Do you want to watch something else? A movie, maybe?” he offered, as he placed a timid hand on my forearm.

“No.” I shook my head frantically as I raised the volume and positioned myself on the edge of the couch, angling my body toward the screen. I’d gone completely numb the second I heard her voice. I never would have recognized her otherwise; nothing about her appearance made sense. Her vibrant red hair had been dimmed to a hushed shade of blond. Her once ivory complexion had adopted a golden hue. And while her eyes were still the same, wide set and blue—just like my mother’s—there was an unmistakable reserve behind them.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He wasn’t far off. Still, he had no idea. To him, she was just another attractive face. To me, she was everything. Some switch inside me flicked on.

Host: Now that you’ve shared your tips for looking and feeling your best on your big day, Jordana, tell us a little more about Jordana Pierson Wedding Concierge.

TBWRML (or as I call her, That Bitch Who Ruined My Life): Think of us as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous marries New York City’s chicest brides and grooms. Our job is to source the best of the best of everything. If you can dream it, we can make it happen. No request is too outrageous. I assure you, we’ve handled some major wish lists and have never disappointed.

Host: So, you’re kind of like the fairy godmother of weddings!

TBWRML: Exactly.

Host: Rumor has it you landed the wedding of the year, maybe even the decade. Can you fill us in? Our viewers are dying to know every last detail!

TBWRML: The rumor is true. My clients Tatiana Doonan and William Blunt will have The Wedding of the Century. And no one could deserve it more. Unfortunately, that’s all I can divulge for now. As you can imagine, everything else is top secret.

Host: Can’t you give our viewers just a little hint?

TBWRML: Sorry, Amanda, you know my lips are sealed.

Host: Right. But is it fair to say that an event of this magnitude could make or break a career?

TBWRML: It certainly is.

Host: That must be very stressful.

TBWRML: I love what I do, so I prefer to think of it as a challenge. I have every confidence we’ll rise to the occasion.

Host: And you do this all by yourself?

TBWRML: To this point, I have. Although the phone has been ringing off the hook, so I’m currently looking for an assistant.

Host: Ooh! Now there’s an amazing job opportunity. Line up, ladies and gentlemen! Before we cut to a commercial break, tell us—who is the ideal candidate to work with Jordana Pierson on The Wedding of the Century?

TBWRML: Well, let’s see. They’d have to be smart. And think fast on their feet. Of course, a strong work ethic is crucial too.

“I have a strong work ethic.”

“What’s that?” Matthew regarded me oddly. I didn’t realize I’d spoken aloud, or that he was still right next to me.

“And she owes me.”

“Huh?” he asked, justifiably confused.

Because, why wouldn’t he be? Matthew had no idea that Jordana—I guess that’s what she’s calling herself these days—took everything from me. My faith. My goodwill. I tried to help her, but she helped herself instead. At my expense. And at my nana’s expense.

Just seeing her churned my insides. But it also inspired me. To finally do something for myself, rather than sit back idly waiting for the pitfalls of life to rain in my lap.

This was my chance to finally set myself on the right track. To straighten out all my wrong turns.

“I’m moving to New York,” I said, my eyes still focused on her face, so familiar yet so foreign at the same time.

Matthew nodded, unaware that I actually meant it.

And unaware that he wasn’t coming with me.
This reading group guide for Pretty Revenge includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your conversation. We hope that these ideas will enrich your dialogue and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

The name of the game is revenge.

Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can pinpoint the exact moment when her life veered off course—the ill-fated night she was wronged by her childhood role model. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the woman who destroyed her life on television, she devises a plan. Kerrie knows the risks—but she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.

Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.

No one, that is, except Kerrie.

Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel that explores just how far someone will go for vengeance.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Both Kerrie (Olivia) and Jordan (Jordana) assume new, invented identities to move on from their pasts. Discuss each woman’s reasoning for assuming a new identity and how these reasons are similar or different.

2. Early in the book, Kerrie shares something her Nana used to say: “Senseless revenge will whip its neck and snap you on the bottom” (p. 5). Discuss the different revenge plots in the novel. Do you think Kerrie’s reasons for revenge against Jordana are sensible? By the novel’s end, do you think she succeeds in her revenge?

3. As part of their work in the marriage concierge business, Jordana and Kerrie see their fair share of different relationships and arrangements. Describe what marriage and love look like in their industry. Of the couples and marriages represented, do any seem happy or healthy to you? Which ones? Why or why not?

4. Financial security is a major motive for Jordana, which is juxtaposed with her role in serving clients for whom money is no object. Discuss the different levels of wealth among the characters. Do you agree with Jordana’s determination for financial security? Why or why not?

5. Jordana says that “happiness isn’t always a choice.” Do you agree with this sentiment? Why or why not?

6. As a group, discuss what a marriage means to you. If you are married, what defines your relationship with your partner? Do you have an overbearing mother/mother-in-law like Caroline. When planning your wedding, did find yourself anxious over everything like Alexa? If you are not yet married, describe the relationship you hope to be in and what you value in a partner.

7. When Kerrie comes clean and admits her reasons for being in New York to Sara, the two devise a plan. Discuss Sara’s willingness to be involved and her desire to return to work. Can you relate to her trouble finding work in her early years of motherhood? Has anyone in your book group taken time off to build or care for their family? Consider the pros and cons of giving up work to become a stay-at-home parent and vice versa.

8. Further to the above, mothers and motherhood are represented in many forms in Pretty Revenge. As a group, compare and contrast the different family dynamics and relationships that exist. Is Caroline similar to Sara? Is Jordana’s mother similar to Caroline? Discuss how the characters view their parents or the act of parenting.

9. Kerrie’s past with Jordana is finally revealed in Chapter 26. Are you surprised by what happened between them? Do you think Jordana is responsible for Kerrie’s grandmother’s death? Why or why not?

10. Considering the dual nature of decisions and their impact, there are always two sides to every story and every memory. What do you think about Jordana’s decision to take the ring and money? Do you think Kerrie would have seen things differently if she were older, and if her grandmother had survived?

11. Why do you think Jordana’s mother is so insistent on having her reunite with her father? Do you think Jordana is right to want to avoid it? Are you surprised when Jordana and her mother reconnect in the final scene?

12. At the end of your discussion, consider Pretty Revenge in the context of other popular female-driven thrillers, like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Consider reading the wedding announcements or Vows column in your local newspaper. Discuss as a group what you think of the weddings that have happened in your area. Are they as over-the-top as the receptions Jordana Pierson’s company creates?

2. Before your book club, read Alain de Botton’s opinion piece in the May 28, 2016, edition of The New York Times: “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” (www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html). Discuss his views on marriage, and whether or not you agree with what he has to say. Would any of the characters in Pretty Revenge benefit from adapting to his point of view?

3. Consider making mood boards for your own wedding—or imaginary wedding, if you could do it over again—if you had the budget that Jordana’s clients have. Clip images from a magazine or create a Pinterest board and share as a group. Discuss the differences between the wedding of your dreams and the wedding of your reality. Would you do it the way Jordana’s clients could, if you had the chance? Why or why not?

4. Visit Emily Liebert’s website at www.emilyliebert.com to learn more about Emily and connect with her on social media.
Photograph by Kyle Norton

Emily Liebert is the author of six books and has been featured on the Today show and in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Ladies’ Home Journal, People, The Washington Post, and many more. Emily lives with her husband and their two sons in Connecticut.

"A riveting tale of subterfuge, betrayal, and retribution set among the glittering world of New York’s elite.”

– Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You

"Old wounds reopen with a vengeance in the latest from Emily Liebert, an irresistible page turner set against the glamorous backdrop of moneyed New York. Pretty Revenge twists its way through a riveting tale of blame and obsession, where revenge isn’t as neat or pretty as it seems. The perfect summer beach read."

– Kimberly Belle, author of Dear Wife

“Liebert’s forte is creating authentic female characters, as she does here with those in both primary and secondary roles, while building suspense by withholding until late in the book the details of just what Jordan did to Kerrie 18 years earlier. A psychological thriller with a surprising resolution.”

– Booklist

“Liebert’s skillful character development illustrates the complexity of human motivations and encourages sympathy for unlikely characters. Aficionados of the TV show Revenge or those who enjoy contemporary psychological suspense set in an affluent society will want to consider.”

– Library Journal

"Liebert (Those Secrets We Keep) delivers a first-rate thriller in this irresistible tale of a wedding planner with a dodgy past and the longtime enemy who aims to expose her secrets.. Fans of Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny will devour this expertly paced novel."

– Publishers Weekly

“A fun, twisty thrill ride about the dark side of female friendship.”

– PopSugar

More books from this author: Emily Liebert