Risking It All by Nina Darnton

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In the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult comes a novel from critically-acclaimed author Nina Darnton about a woman who’ll go to any lengths to become a mother.

When Marcia, a driven, successful editor in New York with a loving husband, finds she can’t conceive a child, it rips the heart out of her seemingly-perfect life. Her desire to be a mother has become her obsession, and after trying and failing to become pregnant by every known method, she focuses all of her energy on her one remaining option: surrogacy. Her husband resists, and tries to convince her that they can be happy without a child; but faced with her unyielding determination, he relents, and reluctantly goes along with the idea. Everything looks good…until an unexpected tragedy occurs that changes their plans, their marriage, and their lives forever.

Praise for Risking It All

“Fans of Jodi Picoult and Janelle Brown will enjoy this poignant and thought-provoking novel.”


“Thoughtfully written and thoroughly engaging―a tale of compromise, tough decisions…and love.”


“A fascinating glimpse into a marriage after tragedy strikes. Once you start Risking It All, you won’t put it down.”

―Catherine Coulter, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Devil’s Triangle

Marcia was sopping wet when she entered the lobby of her building on West End Avenue. She kicked off her soaked shoes in the doorway. They were probably ruined, she thought, but she was too excited to care. She went straight to her bedroom, dripping little rain puddles onto the Oriental rug in the entry hallway, changed out of her clothes and pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt. Catching a glimpse of herself in the bedroom mirror, she noticed her wet hair plastered around her face and towel-dried it with one hand while opening her briefcase. She ignored the manuscript she had brought home to edit and extracted three pamphlets she’d picked up in her doctor’s office that afternoon. Clutching them in her hand, she curled up on her bed to read them again.

Surrogacy. Her last chance, her last hope. She had tried everything else. Surely this would work. But she knew getting Jeff to accept it would be an uphill fight. At least it wasn’t adoption; she knew he would never give in on that. But he’d also been resistant to every form of conception other than as a by-product of their lovemaking. She would have preferred it to have happened naturally too, but it hadn’t. They had tried to conceive a baby for three years with nothing to show for it but a less spontaneous and thus less exciting sex life. She had taken her temperature every day for months to determine when she was ovulating. She’d rush home when she was and miss dinner dates or parties required for her work.

Read Chapter One
Book Club Discussion Guide
  1. Do you think Jennifer is a perfect mother? Does she think so? Do her children?
  2. How do society and the media encourage women to strive for the chimera of being “perfect” mothers? How would you define a good mother?
  3. Is there a difference between unconditional love and blind faith in your child? What is unconditional love and is it really ever possible?
  4. What is a mother’s responsibility in the face of a possible serious crime by her child? What would you do?
  5. Jennifer has given up her career to raise her children. Her own self worth is tied up in her children’s success. How much does this affect her refusal to see any flaws in Emma? In her marriage? In herself?
  6. Jennifer is learning that she never knew her daughter as well as she thought she did. Do any of us really know our children when they are adults? Do they know us? Do they want to?
  7. There are multiple versions of what happened to the murdered Spanish student. By the end of the book, whose story do you believe? Do you think the whole story still hasn’t come out? What does Jennifer finally believe?
  8. Do you see parallels in this story with the true story of Amanda Knox? What is your opinion of that case? Do you think she is guilty? Why do we care?
  9. Do you like Marc’s character and role in the story? What responsibility does he bear for Emma’s problems? What responsibility does he bear for his marital problems?
  10. What do you think of the relationship between Jennifer and Roberto? Did you hope they would stay together or did you want to see Jennifer go back to Marc and her family?
  11. What is your prediction of what will happen next in this family? What will become of Emma? Will Marc and Jennifer stay together?