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New Release Spotlight: We Love to Entertain: A Novel by Sarah Strohmeyer

Updated: Apr 26, 2023


From the bestselling author of Do I Know You? comes a fast-paced, riveting psychological thriller that skewers our modern obsession with home renovation and fixer-uppers.


Holly and Robert Barron are attractive young real-estate investors and contestants in a competition run by To the Manor Build, the nation’s most popular home renovation app. With millions in product endorsements and online followers at stake, they’re rehabbing a Vermont home they scored at a bargain price into a chic hilltop estate ideal for entertaining.


It’s all camera-ready laughs and debates over herringbone tile until Holly and Robert go missing hours after their picture-perfect wedding—leaving behind a bloody trail.


Suspicion falls quickly on Erika Turnbull, the Barrons’ twenty-something assistant—eager, efficient, and secretly in love with Robert. Did Erika let her misguided passion turn her into a murderer? So claim the townsfolk of Snowden, Vermont, who still haven’t forgiven her for a tragic accident back in high school.


But Erika’s mother, Kim, is not about to let small-town gossip and a cop with an axe to grind destroy her daughter—again. With time running out and their own lives at risk, the mother-daughter duo set out to find what really happened to the Barrons. First, though, they’ll have to confront the vengeful former owner of Holly and Robert’s estate, ruthless reality-show producers, and a secret that might bring their own house down.


Fast-paced, full of humor, and undeniably twisty, We Love to Entertain is another winner from Sarah Strohmeyer. EXCERPT:


Prologue

I’m so sorry, mom.


The apology is spoken in a whisper, somewhere between a prayer and a sob uttered into a dark, cold void. She is alone. Forgotten. Left to die. Her most feared childhood nightmare of being buried alive actually happening.


There’s no point in shouting. She’s already tried that, of course. She yelled and begged when he walked away, when he climbed the makeshift ladder and dragged the rough piece of plywood over the hole. She screamed as he laid the heavy rocks one after the other—thunk, thunk, thunk—in rhythm to her panicked heartbeat. She’d screamed and screamed until, al- ready exhausted, she collapsed, her throat dry as the dust beneath her feet.


He would not return. That was clear.


Was that yesterday? This morning? Three days ago? Im- possible to tell here in this windowless cave. In the dimming light of the lamp, she can make out desiccated potatoes, rotted, dried, and darkened to black lumps scattered here and there on the dirt floor. The air is dank and thick. Oxygen is running low. It smells of urine and vomit. Hers.


No one will look for her here—if they even realize she’s been abducted, which is doubtful. Her captor will have fooled them with artful lies: She went on the lam to save her own hide, she is not who she appears to be. She’s cunning, ambitious, greedy—and now look what she’s done, what misery she’s caused! Good riddance to bad rubbish, they’ll all say.


Except her mother. She will keep on searching, never giving up until her daughter is found.


Though by then, it will likely be too late.


IT’S ON . . . TMB!


BEHIND THE SCENES OF TO THE MANOR BUILD WITH CONTESTANTS ROBERT BARRON AND HOLLY SIMMONS


Lights! Cameras! Reveal!


We can’t believe the big day is almost here! After weeks of sweating contractor delays, faulty electrical wiring, disgusting black mold, emergency asbestos remediation, and—gulp!—a snake infestation, the three couples facing off in an epic competition on To the Manor Build are about to show the world their fabulous rehabs.


And the stakes couldn’t be higher.


From design consulting to the last penny nail, TMB will cover 100 percent of the costs incurred by the lucky winning couple, who, in a twist, won’t be chosen by our experts but by . . . you! So log on to ToTheManorBuild.com and get ready to cast your vote. The polls open online after the Big Reveal in just two weeks.


While you’re waiting in tense anticipation, we caught up with one of our star couples, Robert Barron and Holly Simmons, for a Q&A on some behind-the-scenes details—and, oh my, are those wedding bells we hear???


TMB: Thank you so much for taking a break from your super-busy schedule this week as we get down to the wire. How’re you handling the final crush?


ROBERT: Thanks for having us. You know, the truth is, Holly’s borne the brunt of this rehab, starting with the original vision, lining up the contractors, and making decisions every five minutes. I just stand around looking pretty.


HOLLY: That’s not true. I saw you swing a hammer—once.


ROBERT: Must have been your secret lover. You know how I hate to

ruin my manicure.


HOLLY: That’s actually kinda true. (Laughs)


TMB: See? This is why you guys are fast becoming the fan favorites. Everyone loves your banter and obvious genuine mutual affection. Why don’t you tell those new to TMB how you met.


ROBERT: Not much to tell. Holly saw my bodacious bod on Tinder and swiped right.


HOLLY: (Sighing) Don’t believe a word out of this man’s mouth. He is a congenital liar. The truth is, in my other existence I run a real estate vlog and I’d been following Robert’s alternate persona as The Robber Barron for years. I was really impressed by his creative approach to real estate investing, but I told him he needed a better platform to showcase his properties other than a subscription newsletter. In that way, he’s kind of an un- frozen caveman.


ROBERT: Grunt.


HOLLY: Then, out of the blue, he called me last winter and asked if I wanted to go skiing in Vermont and check out this kooky property, he’d recently acquired for a song at a tax sale. Thought maybe I might be interested in making a video of it.


ROBERT: Yeah, that was BS. I didn’t care about the video. I only wanted the girl.


HOLLY: I’ll admit, I had my doubts. All I knew about Vermont was it was cold and snowy and short on retail. Not exactly this south- ern girl’s dream destination. But, as soon as I saw the potential house site and the apple orchard and mountain views on eighty fabulous acres, I was in love.


ROBERT: To be clear, not with me. The property.


HOLLY: Then Robert told me about his plans for a net-zero spec house. I knew immediately this was the perfect project for To the Manor Build.


TMB: Who had the idea to submit a test tape to TMB? I bet it was

you, Holly.


HOLLY: Guilty as charged. Robert was on the fence, but I was deter- mined.


ROBERT: Technically, it wasn’t just the fence I was on . . .


HOLLY: (Slapping him playfully) While we were filming, Robert and I discovered we share a commitment to saving the environment and thwarting climate change. I do everything in my ability to reduce my carbon footprint whenever I can, grocery shopping at local farm stands—


ROBERT: My personal sacrifice is driving a Tesla . . .


HOLLY: (Rolling her eyes) Anyway, there’s so much exciting, cutting- edge stuff happening now in environmental construction. We’re so glad TMB was on board with that, too, and chose our rebuild to help bring our passion to light.


TMB: Actually, we were floored by your sizzle [note: that’s reality- show lingo for the infamous test tape]. We absolutely loved your design concept and your on-air chemistry, and, judging from the chatter on Reddit’s r/ToTheManorBuild, so do your fans. The question is, how do you think you’ll fare against the com- petition? They’ve both got pretty moving backstories.


HOLLY: And we couldn’t love them more, honestly. We are Joel and Sean’s biggest cheerleaders.


TMB: They’re the couple building a therapeutic ranch in New Mexico for LGBTQ2+ teens who’ve been bullied at school or cast out by their families.


HOLLY: Besides championing a noble cause that’s near and dear to my heart, from what we’ve been allowed to see of their de- sign, I am floored. All those bright southwestern colors and the horses and the bridal path! I mean, where do I sign up?


ROBERT: We’re gonna lose, aren’t we? Ah, it’s okay. Good run while it lasted.


TMB: And then, on the other side of the country in South Carolina, you have Drs. Sam Chidubem and Concita Jimenez, who are establishing a seaside retreat for healthcare professionals and their families, who sacrificed so much during the pandemic. Extremely inspiring.


ROBERT: Yup. We definitely are gonna lose.


HOLLY: First of all, hats off to anyone who worked in the medical field during the pandemic. I cannot even imagine the trials they endured. Secondly, I’ve been following Doctor Concita’s blogs online and she and her husband embrace such a soothing aesthetic, lots of tranquil pastels and sand tones. I am dying to swing in one of their rope hammocks overlooking the beach and watch my troubles disappear.


ROBERT: I agree with everything Holly just said.


HOLLY: For once . . .


ROBERT: All kidding aside, while both of these are incredibly worthy projects, they represent the present, while, in my humble opinion, I like to think we represent the future.


TMB: Interesting. How so?


ROBERT: Our rebuild reflects a whole new way of approaching home construction in the era of climate change. We’ve employed the most advanced environmental technology. Thick concrete walls. Heat pumps that rely on geothermal energy. A peaked rubber roof that insulates and doesn’t need to be re- placed nearly as often and yet is sturdy enough for a solar array. We’re going to generate so much power from the sun, even in chilly Vermont, the local power company will have to buy the excess from us. Think about that!


HOLLY: He’s right. Fingers crossed that viewers will be amazed at the reveal to learn they can live in a spectacular, energy- efficient house that’s also stylish and able to be heated by a candle. Even, like Robert just said, in frigid Vermont.


ROBERT: Upfront costs are made up by massive energy savings down the road. There’s your future, folks.


TMB: Speaking of future, as if you two don’t have enough to do, you’re squeezing in a spontaneous wedding soon.


HOLLY: (Clearly blushing) You know, Robert and I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, but instead of spending the final week stressing over the TMB contest, on the spur of the moment we decided what the heck! Autumn’s a magnificent season for an outdoor ceremony here in Vermont. The trees are absolutely on fire.


ROBERT: We’re thinking of doing a flash wedding, so keep checking the website for the pop-up live stream, just in case anyone’s interested in seeing me in a skirt—I mean “kilt.” I do have extremely attractive knees, if I do say so myself. Show them the ring, darling.


HOLLY: (Displaying a halo engagement ring of blue and ice-white diamonds in a platinum setting) Robert designed this himself. It’s ethically sourced, by the way. The platinum is recycled.


ROBERT: The center diamond is lab-grown, which means it’s only slightly less expensive than a normal two carat would be if it were mined by oppressed children in a Third World country. And yet I’ve been assured by the jeweler it’ll retain its value long after death do us part.


HOLLY: Oh, baby. Don’t even say that!


ROBERT: (Leaning down for a kiss) I swear nothing can part us,

sweetheart. Not even death.


TMB: Awww. Who doesn’t love lovers in love? We at TMB wish you all the very best. And to all of you on Team H&R, do keep checking this site for your personal digital invites to Holly and Robert’s flash wedding that could happen any day now. You don’t want to miss a moment of romance.


ROBERT: Not to mention my knees. WE LOVE TO ENTERTAIN. Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Strohmeyer. Reprinted here with permission from Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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