Spouse Trap: A Madeline Dawkins Mystery (The Madeline Dawkins Series Book 1) by Cynthia Hamilton

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Spouse Trap: A Madeline Dawkins Mystery (The Madeline Dawkins Series Book 1) by Cynthia Hamilton

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#SPOUSETRAP #mystery #suspense

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Genre – Mystery / Suspense

Page Count – 304 pages

Cover Designer – Barbara Boros

Goodreads –  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18126266-spouse-trap

Madeline Ridley had all she’d ever dreamed of: a handsome, successful husband, a place at the top of Santa Barbara society, every luxury money could buy. In all respects, her world was perfect…until she awoke in the early morning hours in a strange hotel room, alone, unclothed, with a splitting headache and no clue how she had gotten there.

When Steven Ridley comes home in the middle of a weekday and throws a sheaf of damning photos at her, Madeline’s comfortable world collapses in a swirl of blackmail, sabotage and deceit. Hoping to convince Steven of her innocence, Madeline drives to his office and unwittingly stumbles onto a scene that makes her realize who the real enemy is.

From that point on, Madeline Ridley deconstructs herself, reverting back to Madeline Dawkins in order to salvage what’s left of her life. In the process, she discovers where her true strengths lay, and with those, she steels herself for the battle of a lifetime.


Though I was always an ardent reader, I was convinced I couldn’t string sentences together if my life depended on it. Fortunately for me, when I was looking for something creative I could do from bed—if my mystery illness progressed to that point—I decided to try my hand at it. No pressure, no expectations. I didn’t tell anyone what I was up to. I just wanted to see if I could string sentences together and tell an interesting story.

I remembered a quote by Hemingway, “Write about what you know.” With this mandate, I chose a topic I knew well, the time spent living with my husband in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I typed out my first two paragraphs on my forty-third birthday. I finished that book on my next birthday, and started my second the same day.

As my still-nameless illness progressed, I continued running the family business and continued to write. Nine years after my symptoms began, I finally received a correct diagnosis: Lyme disease, and more specifically, late-stage Lyme, because it had been allowed to progress untreated for so long.

Though the pain was almost unendurable, I clung to my writing like a life preserver. It allowed me to crawl up inside my head, out of my body, giving me brief respites from the vast array of pains.

Though I would never wish this disease on anyone, I can honestly say I am grateful for the path my life took, for it gave me the gift of writing. I now have nine published books, all of which have special significance for me. I write general fiction, mysteries and some nonfiction.

Once Upon a Lyme: The Tale of Two Journeys, is the detailed account of the path my mystery illness led me down as I sought help from over two-dozen doctors, and the gift of writing that was the unexpected upside of being so hopeless ill.

Finding Ruth was inspired by a previously unseen photograph of my mother when she was nineteen. I found it as I was going through her things prior to her move into a skilled nursing hospital. That gorgeous photograph of her looking so happy and full of promise made me realize how little I knew about her life before I came along. Because Alzheimer’s has taken away all her memories, I painstakingly reconstructed her life from public records, thousands of photographs, and what my brother, sister and I could remember. The message in the tribute to my mom is Ask while you have the chance.

As of this writing, I have just completed the fourth book in the Madeline Dawkins mystery series. I’m still in love with writing and I still squeal with joy to think that I’ve written eleven books and self-published nine of them. If there is a message in this, it’s Never discount what you are capable of achieving.


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