Bourke's Bookshelf: Wine and Words author Sarah Pekkanen

This week's featured author is Sarah Pekkanen, who will speak at this year's Friends of the Brainerd Public Library's Wine and Words event in July.

"The Golden Couple" and "These Girls"
"The Golden Couple" and "These Girls" by Sarah Pekkanen.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

I’m so excited to be attending this year’s Wine and Words event, hosted by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library.

Theresa Bourke headshot

An annual fundraiser for the library, the event features food, wine tasting, a silent auction and — of course — authors and book signings. I’m only familiar with one of the six authors lined up to speak this year, so I decided to do a deep dive into their works in preparation for the big day.

First up is Sarah Pekkanen, the author and co-author of about a dozen suspense, thriller and women’s fiction novels. I had a lot of choices here, so I picked a couple different genres, showcasing Pekkanen’s versatility as an author and the different offerings she has.

‘These Girls’ by Sarah Pekkanen (2012)

"These Girls"
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

In the hustle and bustle of New York City, the lives of Cate, Renee and Abby are intertwined, whether they realize it yet or not.

Roommates Cate and Renee are in the fast-paced magazine industry, working for lifestyle magazine “Gloss.” As Cate acclimates to her new features editor role after a promotion — one she really hopes she got on merit alone — Renee struggles to keep her Visa bill manageable with her lower associate editor job.


But when the position of beauty editor opens up at the magazine, Renee knows it’s her chance to climb the ladder and cushion her bank account. The only problem? The other two candidates look much more the part than she does. They’re not a size 12, and they don’t have to worry about anonymous internet trolls commenting on their stomach rolls for the whole world to see. Renee is determined to get that job, though, so she’ll use any means necessary to get her weight down.

Cate looks like she’s got it all together, but behind-the-scenes family drama stresses her out at the worst time, when she’s trying to put together the first magazine issue with her new title. It’s got to be good — better than good, so she can prove she earned the job and that her appearance had nothing to do with her pervy boss’s choice.

Then there’s Abby — sweet, sensitive, heartbroken Abby — who comes into their lives at her lowest but has an unexpected impact on the other women.

As the story progresses, we learn more and more about Cate, Renee and Abby’s backgrounds, the humiliating and traumatizing experiences that got them to where they are today.

And there are more trials for each of the women to go through before they realize what it really is they need. It’s not boyfriends or diet pills or a dream job. It’s friendship, plain and simple.

‘The Golden Couple’ by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (2022)

The Golden Couple
"The Golden Couple"
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Avery Chambers is certain she can fix anyone's problems in just 10 sessions. And after losing her therapist license and now having to work as an independent consultant, she's free to use her unconventional methods.

But will 10 sessions even be enough for new clients Marissa and Matthew Bishop? Avery soon learns the infidelity that brought them to her in the first place is just the tip of the iceberg.

Secrets, half-truths and downright lies plague the marriage that they both so desperately seem to want to save. Avery will have to go snooping for a lot more information, though, if she wants to keep her reputation for fixing people intact.


But the more she learns, the harder — and more dangerous — her job becomes. It's not just the Bishops who have things to hide.

There's Marissa's inexplicably nosy shop assistant, Polly. And single mom Natalie, who clearly has a thing for Matthew. And finally Skip, who Avery briefly dated but somehow keeps cropping up at the most unexpected times.

There's also a decades-old murder that just might be the key to everything.

Can Avery uncover the truth before someone else gets hurt?

As I drew closer to the end of the book, I began to feel a sense of urgency. There didn't seem to be enough chapters left for everything to come together.

But once the twists started, they didn't stop. One revelation after another had my heart pounding and my jaw nearly on the floor.

Anyone looking for a thrilling read with a surprise ending is certain to find pleasure in "The Golden Couple."

Wine and Words

Wine and Words is Wednesday-Friday, July 26-28, at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.


The Thursday event is sold out, but tickets are still available for Wednesday evening and Friday morning/afternoon are still available at .

Tickets are $50 a person, or $400 for a table of eight.

Author speakers are Lorna Landvik, Sarah Pekkanen, J. Ryan Stradal, Marcie R. Rendon, Kaira Rouda and Andre Solo.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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