Death in the Form of a Woman by Francesca Santana

four stars

Death in the Form of a Woman by Francesca Santana is a short, scandalous story about a Hispanic family whose comfortable dynamic dramatically declines when a sexy young housekeeper enters their lives. At first, Teresa Cruz seems to be the answer to the Rodriguez family’s prayers…and the girl of hard-working patriarch Raul Rodriguez’s dreams. But after she finds her way from making the couple’s bed to lying in it with Raul, Teresa proves to be a nightmare. Raul’s passion for Teresa is replaced by concern and admiration for his wife Cecilia, when Cecilia is forced to confront serious medical issues, and Raul tells Teresa their affair is done. Scorned by his decision, Teresa sets out to exact her revenge – she’s determined to punish Raul and show Cecilia what it’s like to lose the love of her life. Teresa does, indeed, accomplish these goals, and, as the final chapters of the story unfold, her truly twisted nature is exposed.

From start to finish, Death in the Form of a Woman is a quick and intriguing read, though the rapid pace of the story makes it a little farfetched at times. No sooner than Teresa starts working for the family, she and Raul begin their affair, which isn’t so shocking, perhaps, but for the fact that they instantly discuss love and Raul leaving his wife. So too, the story seems a bit contrived when it comes to the couple’s dealing with their oldest daughter’s pregnancy and secret relationship with a coworker. They immediately embrace her condition and circumstances without any surprise, alarm, or reservation, which, let’s face it, isn’t really how things go down in the real world. Despite these plot weaknesses, however, Death in the Form of a Woman still shines in several spots. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at the imperfections of a family that appears perfect on the outside and gives readers a glimpse into the strange workings of the criminal mind. It also shows how, sometimes, “the help” can hurt, and how the greatest dangers often go undetected right under one’s nose.