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Monday, January 14, 2019

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Release Date - January 8, 2019

May I first say the cover is half the reason I took a closer look at Her One Mistake? Some covers are clear misses. This one captured the atmosphere and chilling suspense perfectly.

Charlotte knows her best friend Harriet never lets young Alice out of her sight. In fact, Harriet has never hired a babysitter. It's part of the reason Charlotte is so ecstatic when her friend finally decides to leave Alice with Charlotte for the day. There's a school fair that all of the kids will love, and they plan a full day of fun while Harriet takes a bookkeeping class.

All is going great. As the kids head into a bouncy house, Charlotte takes a few seconds to check messages. Her kids come out, but Alice has vanished. A search of the school fields comes up empty. Charlotte has to tell her friend that Alice is missing.

Losing your own child would be a horror you just can't imagine, but to lose a friend's child seems to be the worst of all. As she tries not to fall under the weight of the tremendous strain of losing another person's child, Harriet tries to hold it all together. One of the women knows more than is being told, and the detectives must discover what and why.

What a book to kick off 2019 with! I'd read a little bit before the New Year's, but Her One Mistake was the first book I actually picked up after the 1st. It was a fantastic choice. I won't say all of it kept me guessing, but the tension was there and had me reading into the wee hours. When I couldn't shut my mind off of other dealings at 4 a.m., I was almost happy to get up and read more.

I am very fond of the psychological suspense novels that are so popular. This one was one of the best.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Just Once by Lori Handeland

Release Date - December 20, 2018

Just Once is both thought-provoking and emotional. It seemed especially true to me given the experiences I've had over the past (almost) two years. I've watched my mom decline no thanks to Alzheimer's. I watched my dad's health decline due to the exact same health issue Charley has in this story.

It's been more than 20 years since Frankie divorced her husband. Charley was the love of her life, but his affair with a much younger woman destroyed their marriage. Why he's back at her doorstep two decades later is beyond her. Worse, he has no recollection of his second wife and he doesn't realize 20 years. In his mind, he's still happily married to Frankie.

Hannah has loved Charley for so long. It breaks her heart to learn that he has no recollection of her at all. He sees her as a delusional woman. She's definitely not his wife, no matter what she keeps saying. Hannah has always been that "other woman" in Frankie's eyes, so the resentment is clear only this time it's on both sides.

When tests reveal Charley has a terminal health issue, one woman must face being there for a man who abandoned her decades ago. Another woman must face the truth that her husband truly, deeply loves another.

I was the medical power of attorney for my dad given my mom's own health issues. As a result, I really related to Frankie. Not the marriage aspect, but those choices she faced are heartbreaking. I truly understood that pain. I love that rather than let it consume her, she found a way to find strength and comfort with the woman she's despised for so many years. Watching them form a tentative alliance was a nice change of pace in a world that spews so much hatred on a daily basis.

The story is told from several viewpoints. You have Hannah in the past and in the present. There's Frankie in the past and in the present. There's also a good look at Charley's experiences in Vietnam and after he and Frankie marry. Just Once was never an easy story to read. I'm glad I did, however.

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

Release Date - January 9, 2019

Emma Rous' The Au Pair is touted to be a mix of V.C. Andrews and Kate Morton. I'm not familiar with Kate Morton, but I read many V.C. Andrews stories as a teen. I would agree with that thought.

After her father's death, Seraphine Mayes is reeling. She comes across a photo in the family estate and wonders why only one of the infants is in the photo with the mom she never knew. She and her twin Danny were left behind when their mother jumped off a cliff shortly after their birth.

After the suicide, the family's beloved au pair left for good. Seraphine's older brother never understood why. He lost his mother and his nanny in one day. Their father was the last link they had to the past.

Seraphine decides to investigate and learn the truth about her mother's suicide and why only one baby is in the photo. Soon, she is receiving threatening messages. Someone doesn't want her to uncover the truth.

There's a mix of good and bad to be found within The Au Pair. The story is told from Seraphine's point of view in the present day and the au pair's point of view in the past. I found the narrative moved swiftly and kept the story progressing.

The bad is that I pegged the outcome and the real events that day far too early. Despite the townspeople believing the family was cursed, I had it pegged. I think that's why I found it so reminiscent of V.C. Andrews.

This story had me hooked. It is predictable, but I became so involved in the lives of both past and present characters that I couldn't stop reading.