blog tour · book review · drama · family · psychological suspense

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Between You and Me

Between You and Me

Is her new husband really who she thinks he is?

When young doctor Lauren Matheson meets Joe, an older divorced businessman, at a glittering poolside in California, it’s a chance encounter that seems life-changing for them both. Back home in London, their feelings only strengthen. But Lauren soon discovers that building a happy future with Joe is going to be an uphill struggle…

She’s determined to be a good stepmother to his children, four-year-old Toby and complicated teen Grace. But under the watchful eye of Meredith, Joe’s intimidating ex-wife, Lauren can’t seem to do a thing right. Why won’t Joe ever take her side against Grace? And what really happened between him and Meredith?

As her husband retreats into a cold, secretive version of the dashing man she met in California, Lauren starts to wonder if she’s made a costly mistake. Was Joe ever the man she thought she married?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2Pu9BCM

Author Bio

Carol Mason is the Amazon Charts and Kindle #1 bestselling author After You Left (more than 300,000 copies sold), The Secrets of Married Women, The Last Time We Met, The Shadow Between Us, Send Me A Lover and Little White Secrets which hit the Bookstat digital bestsellers list top 3 in the week of its launch. She was born in the North East of England where most of her novels are set. She now lives in Canada with her Canadian husband, a rescue dog from Kuwait and a three-legged cat. When not writing, Carol loves to read, cook and binge watch Netflix.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/CarolMasonAuthor

https://twitter.com/CarolMasonBooks

https://www.instagram.com/carolmasonauthor

My Review

The last thing junior doctor, Lauren expected when she returned to London was to meet up again with Joe, an older guy she met on vacation in America. Their holiday fling didn’t go anywhere once he told her things were “complicated” for him at that moment. But now things have changed and the couple are free to pursue a relationship.

Within a short space of time, they marry and Lauren becomes step-mother to his two children – teenager Grace and four-year-old Toby. As you might expect, Lauren gets no easy ride from Grace, but does bond with Toby. That is until Joe’s ex-wife, and mother to the two kids, sticks her nose in. OK, so as their mother, Meredith obviously has rights and wants the best for her offspring, but treating Lauren like some unpaid help is not the way to go, especially when Meredith takes every chance to belittle and even mock Lauren’s attempts to build a rapport with the children. And where is Joe in all this? You might well ask! Mr Holiday-romance-turned-hubby is not exactly on his new wife’s side when things begin to go wrong. It seems Lauren can do nothing right, not even treat young Toby after an accident, despite being a medical professional

Frustrated and desperate for some support, Lauren’s checks out a forum for step-parents only to find a lot of hostility and animosity from many in her situation towards their step-kids. She does make one friend, though, but even then things aren’t as straightforward as they might seem.

There’s clearly more to Meredith’s story than we think. It comes to a head when she gets the bit between her teeth and sets out to destroy not only Lauren’s relationship with Joe and his kids, but also her career. Lauren is left fighting for her sanity, her career and her marriage in this twisty tale that makes for compulsive reading. A story of ordinary people living ordinary lives until someone throws a huge spanner in the works. The question is why … and can Lauren pick up the pieces? Will she even want to?

Highly recommended if you enjoy a solid family drama with a sinister edge.

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Uncategorized

Book Review – The Child in the Photo

Blurb:

I stare at the newspaper article about a baby snatched from the back of a car thirty years ago, and wonder why someone would post it through my door. Looking closer, my blood freezes. The little girl in the photo has an unusual scar – just like mine. I’ve never met anyone with one like it. Is this stolen child… me?

Trembling with shock, I know I have to confront my mother. My parents got me through a horrific accident, helped me find a job I love teaching art, and even with buying my own house. But was it all built on lies?

She tells me the day I was born was the best day of her life, and I’m flooded with guilt for questioning her – but why do I catch her burning papers in the garden the next day?

Then I come home to find a woman sitting on my doorstep, covered in bruises and claiming she knows who abducted me. I don’t know if I can trust her – or if I’ll be the next to get hurt.

Because all the while, I’ve been hiding my own secret. Does whoever sent the article know what really happened the day of my accident? Desperate for the truth, I break into the house of my supposed kidnapper. Inside, I find a handwritten list of names. A shiver goes down my spine as I realise wasn’t the only child to be stolen.

Then I hear a key in the lock, and I know my life is in terrible danger…

An absolutely addictive read that will have you racing through the pages and questioning everything you thought you knew about your family. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Lisa Jewell and Shari Lapena.

Purchase link

My Review

As soon as I read the book description of The Child in the Photo, it struck me as something I’d enjoy reading. And, for the most part, I did.

Hope receives a newspaper cutting through the post about a stolen baby some thirty-odd years ago, and upon closer examination of the image she recognises herself in the child by virtue of an unusually-shaped ear. That sets her mind racing: could she be that child? Was she stolen and raised by people who weren’t her parents?

Her confrontation with her mum, I found disconcerting. It made me wonder how I’d react in the same circumstances. But I understood her need for the truth, so it made sense for her to track down the mother of the stolen baby. Not only does she find her “birth mother”, but on returning home, the person who posted the newspaper clipping is waiting for her, and she claims to be the real daughter of the couple who stole Hope (Baby Jane).

How Hope deals with all this new information is the crux of the story, aided and abetted by her best friend Stephen, and her sweet, elderly neighbour, Mr Bonner. Was she the only child to have been stolen? How did knowing the truth affect her life and relationship with her mum? Great stuff!

There’s a side story about an accident that Hope had, which rendered her an amputee that, for me didn’t tie into the story as much as I expected. Because all the while, I’ve been hiding my own secret. Does whoever sent the article know what really happened the day of my accident? For the life of me I don’t recall finding out the answer to that question posed in the blurb. There was also an issue around a phone call Hope received from her birth mother’s stepson that also seemed to run out of steam.

That said, I did enjoy this book and found the premise fascinating. The dilemma facing Hope caused her to reflect on her past and to see for the first time the lies and drama around her birth. At times, it felt as though she was being led a merry dance and I had to wonder whether she’d come out of it all with her family relationships intact.

A riveting read with a few surprises on the way.

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
book review · drama · family · historical · historical fiction · political · social history

Book Review – The Girl Behind The Wall

My favourite Historical Fiction book this year!

A city divided.
When the Berlin Wall goes up, Karin is on the wrong side of the city. Overnight, she’s trapped under Soviet rule in unforgiving East Berlin and separated from her twin sister, Jutta.
Two sisters torn apart.
Karin and Jutta lead parallel lives for years, cut off by the Wall. But Karin finds one reason to keep going: Otto, the man who gives her hope, even amidst the brutal East German regime.
One impossible choice…
When Jutta finds a hidden way through the wall, the twins are reunited. But the Stasi have eyes everywhere, and soon Karin is faced with a terrible decision: to flee to the West and be with her sister, or sacrifice it all to follow her heart?

Purchase link (publication date July 8th 2021)

My Review

Historical Fiction is one of my most favourite genres to read, and I’m a sucker for a WWII story. The Girl Behind The Wall, whilst set in Berlin, is not a war story since it takes place in the 1960s. However, the events of that day in 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up overnight has its roots very firmly set in the aftermath of WWII and the division of Berlin.

Identical twin sisters, Jutta and Karin, share an enviable thread that is about to be tested to its limits when Karin insists on travelling to the Eastern part of Berlin, despite not feeling so great. Normally, Jutta would have gone with her, but this time Karin can’t wait for her sister.

That night, their cousin, Hugo, an upcoming news reporter for the radio, hears rumblings of a story. He drags Jutta out with him to see what is going on, riding on his motorbike past all the checkpoints that mark the dividing line between East and West Berlin. Except the checkpoints are all closed and frenetic activity sees the making of a more permanent division, concrete and barbed wire split the city in two as the Berlin Wall goes up with Karin still in the East, after a ruptured appendix sees her hospitalised.

Jutta and the family in the West aren’t able to visit her but they can see no reason why she wouldn’t be allowed to return home once she recovers. Well, no reason other than the German Democratic Republic not granting her permission to leave – but they wouldn’t be so inflexible, would they? Hell, yeah.

When Karin recovers, her path to the West has been blocked and she has to accept the offer of her kind doctor to move in with him and his wife for the time being. Every step is considered temporary at first … until it not longer is.

Jutta is refused access to visit and Karin is refused permission to leave. The two young women who have never been apart are suddenly plunged into a new reality, never really understanding why their applications consistently fail. (The reason does become known eventually, but all too late for them)

Karin gets a job as a cleaner in the hospital, thanks again to the doctor, and has to come to terms with the fact that her life is now in East Berlin. Initially, she wants to leave, to go home to her family until she meets and falls in love with Otto, whose ambition is to rebuild East Germany from within as an architect. He has no real attachment to the West and only sees a future for him and his family – and Karin – in the East.

Jutta, from the other side of the Wall, is desperate to get her sister home, especially when letters aren’t getting through and telephone lines are down permanently. Her One day, when she is walking the length of the Wall, she hears the mewing of a cat and follows the sound to find a mother cat and her kittens in a deserted building that flanks the Wall. She gives the cat her lunch and explores a labyrinth of doors and rooms and ultimately a window that looks out into East Berlin.

She risks going over the window, checking carefully for any onlookers and lands with dusty knees in East Berlin, whereupon she heads for the hospital in the hope they know where Karin might now be. From here, the pace picks up as there is danger around every corner and Jutta’s paranoia reaches new heights. Even so, she continues, her desire to find her sister worth the risk.

A connection is made … but the reunion is a far cry from what Jutta expects. Karin is more alert to the dangers, but she also aware that her escape from the East could put those who looked out for her in danger too. And, of course, she has grown fond of Otto, too fond to consider a life without him.

Jutta, forlorn and disappointed, begs Karin to convince Otto to leave the East too and the two women meet up more often from then on. Jutta’s determination to bring Karin home knows no bounds, and she cannot understand why her sister might choose to stay with Otto than to return to her family.

It is not until Jutta finds love herself that she begins to understand, and while the two of them continue their very different lives, each time they meet up Jutta still hopes that Karin can persuade Otto to leave too.

The danger intensifies as Jutta is mistaken for Karin, and a familiar face keeps popping up which sets them both on edge. Have they been found out? Are they under surveillance? The mood is tense, and grows more unnerving with each visit. What began as two sisters divided by the Wall has now evolved into them having others in their lives that mean as much – if not more – to them than they do to each other. And for twins who have only really ever relied upon each other, it’s hard to accept, and even harder to admit to the other that other people are important to them too.

The Girl Behind The Wall is a story of decisions and sacrifices that threaten to tear a family apart. It’s emotional, tense, and highly addictive. So many families were broken up at this time, so many lives were lost as people attempted to flee, and so much mistrust and division was sown among communities as neighbours spied on neighbours. Thankfully, the Wall did come down eventually, but for so many it was too late. For Jutta and Karin, however, there was always hope and a thread between them that nothing could destroy.

Many thanks to Netgalley, Avon books and HarperCollins for my advanced copy of this book which I have reviewed voluntarily.

book review · psychological suspense · suspense · Uncategorized · women's fiction

Book Review – The Street Party

The party was supposed to be the highlight of the summer. If only I’d known that night would destroy our lives…

All the neighbours were laughing, drinking out of plastic glasses and getting along. I almost felt happy. Almost forgot about the terrible argument earlier and the sinister messages I’d been receiving from a strange address all week, threatening to expose the lies behind my perfect life.

As we finished with the red and gold fireworks and welcomed everyone back to our house, I believed that everything would be okay.

But I didn’t know who I was inviting in.

I never could have imagined what would happen here, in our home, after I’d gone up to bed.

Everyone saw something different.

It’s my daughter’s word against the story the boy from down the road is telling. But how can I find out what really happened that night without everyone finding out the truth about me?

Purchase Link

My Review

Honestly, this is a real slow-starter; I was halfway through the book before the street party events kicked in … and even further on before the real drama began. That said, there are a number of characters at play here, all wildly different and with their own baggage to bring to the party. Could those early chapters have been condensed? Probably. But having reached the end, I can say it was worth the wait.

The story focuses on a group of neighbours who live in the richest part of London – though not all can truly afford to be there. There are three women at the centre of the story

  • Nella (future politician’s wife with lofty aspirations and more money than sense, and a desire to be seen to be doing good)
  • Melissa (yoga queen and a very lovely stepmother but with an abusive husband)
  • Ruby (florist, widowed, lives with her son and is very much on the edge of Nella’s group of helpers)

Nella plans on holding a fundraiser – not only will it make her look benevolent, but it won’t harm her husband’s political campaign either. So, she rallies her “friends” around. Melissa is Nella’s yoga teacher, and also best friend to Ruby who for the life of her cannot she why she has been invited to the inner sanctum.

Nella’s rather handsome husband – Marcus – is keen to get Ruby involved too, and offers to help out with getting her son an internship. Why he would do that is a mystery to Ruby (Could it be because her son is mixed race? Would a politician really be that shallow? ) However, Ruby is quite taken with Marcus’s attention … only to find out she is not the only woman he’s playing.

So, when the party finally begins, it looks like a great success. Until the police call around at Ruby’s house the next morning to speak to her son. Allegations have been made that will rock their world, its implications extending into the wider community too. No one is safe from the after effects of what is purported to have happened that night.

The story is told from the three women’s alternating viewpoints as they come to terms with the aftermath. It calls upon them to reflect upon their own situation, their behaviour, and the kind of world they want their kids to inherit. But, of course, neither woman will air their dirty laundry in public, and so the conundrum continues as to what really happened that night. Who is telling the truth? Who is covering for whom?

The final third of the book lived up to its “unputdownable” billing, though I still wouldn’t class it as a psychological thriller, more along the lines of women’s fiction with a suspense vibe.

What I didn’t like – apart from the slow start – was the constant dribble of “something’s going to happen soon” references, but I loved how the author grounded the characters (Ruby, in particular) in modern British cultural references. Of the three women, Ruby certainly came across as the most relateable.

Who I didn’t like – Melissa’s husband and Nella’s daughter top the list for me, but I loved Fin, Melissa’s stepdaughter, and Ruby and her son. The “good” characters were far from perfect, but the “baddies” were awfully good at being bad.

If you can tolerate a slow start, then you’ll be rewarding with a speedy ending that will leave your head spinning.

As always

Amazon Reviewer Name

 

blog tour · book review · dual timeline · family · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Waiting to Begin

Waiting to Begin

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: what would you risk for a shot at happiness?

1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

Purchase Linkhttp://bit.ly/WaitingToBegin_UK

Author Bio

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty seven novels and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’, ‘The Girl in the Corner’, ‘The Things I Know’ and ‘The Day She Came Back’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, ‘A Mother’s Story’ won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while ‘Perfect Daughter’ was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Praise for Amanda Prowse:


‘A powerful and emotional work of fiction’ – Piers Morgan
‘Deeply moving and emotional, Amanda Prowse handles her explosive subjects with delicate skill’ – Daily Mail
‘Uplifting and positive, but you will still need a box of tissues’ – Hello!
‘A gut-wrenching and absolutely brilliant read’ – The Irish Sun
‘You’ll fall in love with this…’ – Cosmopolitan
‘Deeply moving and eye opening. Powerful and emotional drama that packs a real punch.’ – Heat
‘Magical’ – Now magazine

Social Media Links –

Say hello on Twitter:  @MrsAmandaProwse

Friend me on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/AmandaProwseAuthor

Tag me on Instagram:  www.instagram.com/MrsAmandaProwse

Visit my Amazon Author Page:  Amanda Prowse Author  

Check out my website: www.amandaprowse.com

My Review

As a 16-year-old, Bessie has high hopes of a future travelling the world as an air stewardess. On the day she goes to collect her exam results, her world falls apart. It’s made even worse when she discovers she’s pregnant too. That’s it – her future is over. Or is it?

Some 37 years later, Bess is a mother of two with a secret. And that secret is threatening to blow her world apart for a second time … unless she can come to terms with what she did.

Waiting to Begin focuses on family relationships and, if I’m honest, I didn’t really gel with Bess. She struck me as someone with a chip on her shoulder and a little bit snobbish, which given that everything that happened to her was of her own making, meant she came across as not hugely likeable.

Her family, however, are just the nicest people. Her dad, in particular, brought tears to my eyes with just how lovely and normal and down-to-earth … and embarrassing 🙂 … he was. I guess this is the author’s great skill to portray a warts and all view of family life from many viewpoints.

The story moves between 1984 and the present day, with an excited Bessie looking forward to life. Then in the present day, Bess is less enthusiastic about her lot, she is no longer close to her brother (who kept her secret) and nor is she in touch with her one-time best friend, Michelle. Fortunately, the ending is wonderfully positive, tying up those loose ends and restoring calm in those erst-troubled waters.

I did feel for young Bessie but I also felt, at times, that she accepted no responsibility for her actions. Unaware of what had happened to their daughter, her parents continued to be the goofy, loving people they’d always been. Yes, they were flawed, but those flaws came with warmth and unconditional love.

The story tugs at the heartstrings many a times, but is equally funny and heartwarming. It shows how everything we go through makes us who we are, and that from failure and rejection comes strength and growth.

A story that evokes the whole range of emotions. You’ll laugh, cry, cheer and despair … but you’ll close the book feeling satisfied that all is well with the world. Sort of 😉

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blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Preacher Boy

First in the Dr Harrison Lane series

Preacher Boy

IT’S TIME FOR A NEW CRIME MYSTERY HERO

Dr Harrison Lane is everything you wouldn’t expect from a man with a psychology doctorate. For victims, he’s everything they need.

They look, but they don’t see…

As Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Ritualistic Behavioural Crimes Unit, Dr Harrison Lane knows his Voodoo from his Aum Shinrikyo and a Satanist from a Shaman.

Harrison had an unusual childhood, raised by a bohemian mother and one of the native American Shadow Wolves – the elite tracking squad that works with US Drug enforcers. After his mother’s murder, he dedicated his life to tracking down those who hide behind spiritualism and religion to do evil.

Following the discovery of a missing boy’s body in what looks like a Satanic killing, Harrison is called in to help detectives. When a second boy is snatched, it becomes a race against time to save him, and sees Harrison come face-to-face with some dark secrets from his own childhood.

Preacher Boy is the first book in a gripping new crime mystery series from Amazon Top 20 bestselling author, Gwyn GB. Perfect for fans of LJ Ross, JD Kirk, J.R. Ellis, J M Dalgliesh, Rachel Abbott, Joy Ellis and David Blake.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Preacher-Boy-Harrison-mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08YYS3Q7L

US – https://www.amazon.com/Preacher-Boy-Harrison-mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08YYS3Q7L

Author Bio

Gwyn is an Amazon Top 20 bestselling author. She’s a former UK national TV newscaster and presenter, and journalist for national newspapers and magazines. Gwyn became a journalist because all she wanted to do was write and has finally realised her dream of being a full-time fiction author. Born in the UK, Gwyn now lives in the Channel Islands with her family, including a rescue dog and 17-year-old goldfish.

Gwyn launched her debut novel, Islands as Gwyn Garfield-Bennett in 2016, the romantic suspense book rose quickly into the Amazon top 20. Her first crime mystery series, featuring DI Falle, launched with Lonely Hearts in 2017.

You can find out more about Gwyn at www.gwyngb.com

Or on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GwynGBwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GwynGB

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gwyngb/

My Review

Dr Harrison Lane is about to become one of my new favourite crime-solving heroes. As an avid viewer of Criminal Minds and the Behavior Analysis Unit of the FBI, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to read this book. And while the BAU team includes many a fabulous character, there’s no-one quite like Dr Lane. He is an enigma to his colleagues with his unusual skills (as learnt whilst growing up among the Shadow Wolves, a group of Native American trackers who work to prevent smuggling along the Mexico-USA border in Arizona.) Not to mention, he has a mystery of his own to solve (that of his mother’s killer). Combined, he stands out as different. But if your loved one has been the victim of a murder, then he’s the one you’d want to hunt down the murderer.

The story features a number of great characters, many with their own personal issues that affect how they handle their job. The plot is clever and interesting as it evolves from a single murder to a serial killer case, requiring the police team to trust Lane’s judgement regardless of whether they understand or even agree with it.

I found the writing to be unusual, varying from most books I read these days in that it was more omniscient in style than viewpoint-driven, often in more than one character’s head in a scene. When even a nameless woman “with pulled back hair” got to have “thoughts” about the situation unravelling at the police station, it threw me out a little. But despite being that little bit different in storytelling style, the strength of the story and the cast of characters more than kept me engaged. I’ll be checking out the next book in the series for sure.

Preacher Boy is an intriguing mystery, not least for its leading man, but also as a result of the dynamics between the characters which drive the story forward at a good pace, while still thrilling the reader with its originality.

Highly recommended.

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Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviews on Amazon UK as MeandtheMutts
book review · family · psychological suspense · thriller

Book Review – Baby Dear

Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Caro married Jeff because her biggest wish was to be a mother, and he had the means to give their children a better life than she’d had. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.

Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way.   

Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs…

Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?

Is Sharon in danger, and will Caro ever have the family she’s always dreamed of?

Add to Goodreads

My Review

Baby Dear is a story that takes a few chapters to grab your attention, by virtue of getting to know all the characters, but then it draws you into a fast-paced roller-coaster of emotions and uncertainty.

The story starts with Caro and Jeff attending an appointment at the hospital in the hope of understanding what it’ll take for them to conceive a child. The news isn’t good: Jeff is infertile. Of course, there are options, IVF for one, but the consultant doubts that will be successful. Caro rules out adoption as she wants to be pregnant and give birth to her own child; Jeff rules out a sperm donor. The two of them are at odds, and this even brings into question the state of their marriage.

Caro questions her future with Jeff now he can’t fulfil her dream of being a mother. Jeff questions his future with Caro if he can’t give her a baby.

The lines are drawn, and since neither of them actually seem capable of conversation, they both retreat into their own worlds, assessing how they can resolve the gaping hole in their lives.

Unlike Caro and Jeff, Sharon and Craig Morrison are nowhere near ready for the new baby that is about to change their lives forever. It’s not that they never discussed having kids, just not now. As the due date falls ever closer, Sharon tries to consider a life with a baby and manages to convince herself that maybe she can still have it all. Craig, however, is not even willing to talk about it and buries his head in the sand.

Single mother of two, Julie Mayhew adores her kids, they’re the light of her life and she can’t imagine being without them. After work at the library, she finds Sharon out of breath outside, and sits with her awhile to check the mother-to-be is OK. The two women strike up a friendship. Sharon’s friends aren’t parents, so she latches on to Julie, encouraged that this other woman manages two children and a job on her own.

These three families find themselves connected when Jeff takes matters into his own hands. That he is able to take things as far as he does is frightening and tragic. His wife is unaware of his behaviour until it’s too late. (To be honest, Caro dismissed him easily once she learnt he’d not be able to father a child, and her own obsession is what triggers Jeff into doing the unthinkable).

The story develops in those three viewpoints.

Sharon warms to the idea of being a mother and, once the child is born all her concerns fade away … until a creepy man brings her flowers.

Julie helps Sharon out when Craig is nowhere to be found, and their friendship blossoms. Julie’s own life seems to be taking a turn for the better with the promise of romance in the air, and her little boy, Sam, is just a delight.

And Caro, well she just seems to think of herself until a young teen is found dead in Julie’s library, overdosed on ecstasy and then she worries if she might have been responsible somehow. It might seem like an odd divergence from the main plot, but it allows her to reunite with her nephew, who has a pivotal part in the story as things escalate.

Their lives change forever as the reality of what Jeff does hits home. His dramatic breakdown stems from the moment he learnt of his infertility, and his wife’s indifference to him sends him into an abyss of dark thoughts and ultimately even darker actions as he tries to “fix” everything.

Emotions run high here, as tragedy strikes. But who will get their happy ending?

Enjoy!

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name

book review · family · suspense · thriller & crime

Book Review – The Vacation

The Vacation

by M.M. Chouinard

One of them is missing… One of them did it…

The Thanksgiving retreat was meant to be a time for them to get away from it all, miles from the secrets that threaten to tear their family apart. But they’re each hiding something:

Rose hopes the pretty house overlooking the sea is just the break her family needs. But as she gazes at the water and remembers her own childhood, she is utterly terrified.

Brandon knows his wife Rose has barely forgiven him for his affair. He’s started drinking again, a road that led him to disaster once before.

Brianna, Rose’s sister-in-law, is recovering from her fifth miscarriage, and when she looks at her adorable niece, she can’t help but see the daughter she deserves.

Then three-year-old Lily disappears from her bed in the villa. Isolated in what should have been paradise, it quickly becomes clear that one of them took her.

As one by one their secrets are uncovered, who will be destroyed next?

A completely addictive thriller about every parent’s worst nightmare that will keep you guessing into the early hours of the morning. Perfect for fans of The Guest List, One by One and The Sister-in-Law.

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My Review

I’d seen so many great reviews about this book on Goodreads and Twitter starting with “WOW!” or “OMG!”, I had to check it out for myself. Billed as “utterly gripping”, The Vacation had a lot of hype to live up to … and, boy did it meet all those expectations and more.

From the first chapter, I was hooked and the pace didn’t let up. What was meant to be a fun and relaxing way to spend thanksgiving with family and close friends quickly unravelled to expose a plethora of secrets and resentments.

Rose had been worried about going to Jamaica with her two children, but her husband Brandon assured her it would be just the break they needed. And it seemed as though he was right, until midway through the holiday, after an evening of rum cocktails under a balmy breeze, Rose went to check on her sleeping kids. Jackson was snoring softly, his arm over his head when she checked on Lily, only to find the curtain billowing across the little girl’s bed.

It shouldn’t have been billowing though; the window had been shut last time she checked … but now it was open and Lily’s bed was empty. The nightmare scenario that had usurped her thoughts prior to them arriving in Jamaica had suddenly become a reality. Her three-year-old daughter was gone, just like those other little girls she’d spent hours reading about. Lily was missing. (It would be impossible not to draw comparisons here with the true story of Madeleine McCann, which made what happened all the more heartbreakingly believable)

After raising the alarm, Rose, Brandon and the others scoured the villa but there was no sign of her. When the police finally arrived, they assumed a ransom call would soon follow. It didn’t.

Accusations of lazy policing followed as there was no news of Lily’s whereabouts. Scrawlings on the wall outside Lily’s room suggested she’d been kidnapped, so why weren’t the police pulling out all of the stops to find her? Of course, Rose’s thoughts were blinded by fear for Lily’s wellbeing, so maybe blaming the police for inaction was understandable. Yet, the others in her party seemed to be doing the same. It made me wonder if that would prove to be a convenient smokescreen for someone)

When the police did find clues to what might have happened that night, they gathered all the adults together before sharing their information, watching each of them keenly for a reaction. It was voyeuristically addictive and had me biting my nails.

The story is told across multiple viewpoints – each of the adults had their own chapters – and from both the run-up to Lily’s disappearance and the investigation thereafter. This constant swapping kept the pace up; just as I thought I might read just one more chapter, the next viewpoint character’s chapter became more compelling. Inevitably, as each character’s backstory became known, so did they seem to have a motive. But surely none of them could have harmed Lily? Or could they?

As my suspicions bounced from one character to another, so did doubts form in their minds as they started to suspect each other. Though, mainly thanks to some clever manipulation, they soon began to question one of their group more than any other.

Jeez, writing this review without giving any spoilers is super hard 😉

Just when I thought I couldn’t be more on the side of the family, in came a curveball that had me praying for the police to turn up with all the answers. Was it too late? Would the truth be covered up forever? Oh my, the ending was frantic and sublime in equal measures. The clues were all there, but the way in which the author delivered those crumbs meant it was easy to miss them.

The Vacation was a book in which everyone came under suspicion. Full of page-turning suspense and very cleverly executed, this has to be one of my favourite book of the year so far.

As always,

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