All right, so let me set the stage.

First off, I am a writer of horror.

HOWEVER, lately I have been kicking around the notion of writing myself a romance novel.


Well, for starters I have to blame it on my wife. She keeps asking me just why does a fellow who has actually read THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY three times because he enjoyed it; who yells at his television when he doesn’t think that unrequited lovers are moving fast enough – “KISS HER, YOU IDJIT. JUST TELL HER YOU LOVE HER!”; and who got choked up watching the romantic conclusion to the final episode of the fifth season of DOWNTON ABBEY.


So, I decided that if I was going to TRY to write a romance novel I had better start reading some of them as reference. Well, I have read a few so far and have a few more downloaded on my Kobo.

But let me tell you about THE AWFUL MESS.

I knew that this was a love story. It says so right on the front cover. But somehow as I started to read I began to wonder just what sort of a novel I was reading.

The one thing was for certain – I could not STOP reading it.

The book has a gentle gravitational pull that just draws you into the story. The protagonist has a charming and oddly compelling voice.

But is it a LOVE STORY?

AT first I began to worry that it was a Christian novel. Not that I have anything against Christian novels. Actually, I have written a couple myself – but I was looking for a contemporary romance and I wasn’t particularly looking for a CHRISTIAN romance.

But there was a priest and a question of faith and even a semi-mad wife who might as well have been locked up Bronte-style in the attic.

BUT – as the author herself makes a point of noting – this is NOT particularly a Christian novel.

AUTHOR’S WARNING – (as cribbed from the Kindle posting for this novel – “This book contains some religious themes, but if you require piety and reverence in such matters, this is not the book for you. Skeptics, you will probably be able to cope.”

I should warn you folks that this novel DOES have a couple of hot scenes. Heck, there are at least three entirely hot chapters.

Mind you, I am NOT talking about smut. These were hot love scenes partly on account of my not expecting them and partly on account of their totally believable “ordinary-ness”.

And I know that “ordinary-ness” ISN’T really a word – but that’s the wonderful thing about writing – you get to make up words whenever want to.

Funny thing was, I hadn’t expected those hot scenes, even though the cover had a picture of a naked woman on it.

Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of THE AWFUL MESS from

Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of THE AWFUL MESS from

If memory serves me the first hot chapter was around chapter ten. It might have been nine or it might have been eleven – but I want to warn you readers to be ready for this chapter.

I wasn’t.

I was on my way to work on a really cold and snowy morning when I came across that first hot chapter and after reading it discretely tucked in the shadows of my black pea coat I had to ask the fellow sitting beside me to give me a cigarette.

“But you can’t smoke on the bus,” that fellow said.

“I know that,” I said. “I don’t even actually smoke, but this chapter I just read was so hot I feel I ought to take up the practice.”

So he took a look at my e-reader and read that chapter and then lit up two cigarettes – Paul Henreid style, for those folks who remember Bette Davis in NOW, VOYAGER – and we sat there and smoked.

Only then the bus driver pulled the bus over to the nearest snow drift and told me that we weren’t allowed to smoke on the bus.

So I showed him the chapter.

He sat there and read it aloud and then he started up the bus and drove us all to the nearest tobacco shop where he purchased a carton of cigarettes and treated EVERYONE on the bus to a smoke, even the lady with the purse puppy chihuahua.

So make a note of that.

Sandra Hutchison causes cancer.

That cover kept on confusing me. I kept waiting through the whole book for that woman to get into the water – and it turned out that is exactly what the book is about.

I am not going to tell you anymore about this novel – except to say that if you are looking for a oddly compelling read you might want to try this one.

If you are looking for a romance – only you HATE reading romance novels – then you REALLY ought to look at this one.

As for me, I have finished it and read the last couple of chapters twice and I can’t wait to read her next novel. Only problem is it is NOT available on Kobo yet, but I am hoping that is in the works.

Here’s Sandra’s latest novel – only on Kindle so far – but isn’t that a crackerjack of a title!

And finally, here is a link for those Kobo users, like myself.


Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of THE AWFUL MESS from Kobo.

Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of THE AWFUL MESS from Kobo.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon



  1. Hahaha what a great review. I can’t wait to read what you think of RIBS now! Sandra has quickly become one of my favorite writers.


  2. I write the Sue Ellison Mystery series. It has sex. Sue is a late – 20’s girl from Shelburne N.S., ex O.P.P. lived with a wannabe Elvis for 5 months. All she want is to find the right guy, get pregnant and raise a family just like her parents but murders keep getting in the way. Sue sleeps with a guy in each novel but I don’t write the “wet stuff” BTW I will buy “The Awful Mess” but I still haven’t finished “Vacancy”


  3. Reblogged this on Sandra Hutchison and commented:
    Have to share this very entertaining review of The Awful Mess. Thank you, Stephen Vernon!


  4. Well, I tried to reblog it, but nothing happened. I find some of these things very mysterious. Love the review, Stephen! Couldn’t ask for a more entertaining run down, so thank you. (And thank you, Ted. Meanwhile I’ll just quietly wonder what you mean by “wet stuff” and whether my scenes qualify….)


  5. Thoroughly enjoyable and enticing review of Sandra’s “love story,” The Awful Mess. Will share, of course. And oh–congrats, Sandra, on writing a book that surprises the reader with unexpected pleasures. Cigarette, anyone?


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