REVIEW: THE GIRLFRIEND, BY K.L. SLATER

My husband’s dead. She’s at my door. She owns my home…

The doorbell rings, just days after my beloved husband’s sudden death. I don’t recognise the woman on our doorstep, with her buttery blonde highlights, a diamond bracelet identical to my own and a bouncing baby boy in her arms.

As I show her inside, I notice her eyes grow wide as she takes in our spacious hallway, and the big squashy sofas that we all used to pile on. She glances at the silver-framed family photos and my little daughter hiding behind my skirts.

She looks at me, her blue eyes serious. ‘I’m sorry’ she says. ‘I know this will be hard to hear. But I am your husband’s girlfriend. And this is his son.’

My world implodes. And then she tells me that she owns our home – and that she’s not going anywhere…

an interior journey thoughts

Jennifer’s nightmare life begins when her husband dies in a tragic accident, but the true disastrous events happen when The Girlfriend appears on her doorstep. Sara arrives with her baby boy Rory, who she claims is Cole’s son, and tells an unbelievable story about how she and Cole were planning a life together, and that the beautiful home is all hers. That she loaned money to him and everything is in her name.

Her proposal is that they both live in the house together, and if they can manage that, she won’t kick Jennifer and her kids out.

If Jennifer thought everything was bad before, living with this woman who has her own agenda will rip her life apart in unexpected ways. Jennifer tries to strike back and does her own research. Can she find an answer? Or will Sara win? 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: HOME TRUTHS, BY TINA SESKIS

A strong marriage can cope with the unexpected. But can it survive the unimaginable?

American nanny Eleanor was never meant to meet Alex. But when she walks into his London police station to report a stalker, everything changes for them both. He’s convinced he can protect her from anything and anyone. She hopes her darkest days are behind her.

As they settle into their life together, two hundred miles away another young couple faces an uncertain future. Christie knows Paul is a decent man, but she can’t shake a clairvoyant’s warning: ‘Never trust your husband . . .’ When a work trip tests their bond, will she overcome her fears for the sake of her family?

Ten years later, both couples are still together, for better or worse. But as doubts and resentments begin bubbling steadily to the surface, all four of them start to question the choices they’ve made.
At least the secrets they all brought into their marriages are still well hidden.

For now.

an interior journey thoughts

As we follow the journey of two couples over the years, Home Truths seems to be a story that will eventually reveal how these couples’ lives intersect at some point. The narrative moves back and forth between them, and most of the time we don’t think about how they might connect with one another.

But then something unexpected happens that brings their lives crashing together, and we are stunned that we didn’t see it all along.

A story that definitely kept me intrigued. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE SILENT WOMAN, BY MINKA KENT

Newlywed Jade Westmore has finally found her forever in husband Wells, a charming, successful, and recently divorced architect—only there’s one caveat. Behind the gates of their elysian estate, hidden from street view in the caretaker’s cottage … lives Wells’ first wife, Sylvie.

Three years ago, the original Mrs. Westmore suffered an unfortunate accident—and hasn’t uttered a sound since. Not a physician, psychologist, or world-renowned specialist has been able to elicit so much as a word from the silent woman … until now.

On an ordinary Tuesday while Wells was away—despite instructions to never disturb the fragile woman—Jade visited her isolated predecessor bearing a peace offering: a bouquet of white lilies. Only she wasn’t expecting Sylvie to have something for her as well: a slip of torn notebook paper with a single word scrawled in shaky black ink.

 

an interior journey thoughts

The Silent Woman takes the reader through the perspectives of the current wife, Jade, and Sylvie, the now silent woman. We learn more as we follow the journey of each of them.

Why would Sylvie tell Jade to “run” when she visits at the guest house? Is there a deep dark secret just waiting to change her life?

As Jade learns more about Wells’ mother Mary Claire and also gets to know others in Sylvie’s life, her interest in previous events takes her down an unexpected pathway. What she learns will change her life as well as Sylvie’s. A story that kept me rapidly turning pages and earned 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: NOTHING MORE TO TELL, BY KAREN M. MCMANUS


Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.

The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder—but instead, thanks to Tripp, they’re now at the top of the Saint Ambrose social pyramid. Tripp’s friends have never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day, and neither has he. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.

Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and when Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she uncovers secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. More terrifying is that they might be closer than anyone thinks.

 

an interior journey thoughts

When Brynn moves back to St. Ambrose School, four years after Mr. Larkin’s murder, she is just as eager to find out who killed him as she was before. And now she has an opportunity to be an intern at a true-crime show, which could help her find answers.

However, she keeps her involvement a secret, and as she starts peeling back the layers of what happened that day, she learns that there is so much more to the story. And those who were there are not revealing the answers. Brynn’s old friend Tripp, who has not been a friend for a while, begins to warm up to her again. But he is still not sharing much about that day.

Just when she begins discovering more layers, and as Tripp opens up more, their searching leads them to unexpected places. When there seems to be Nothing More to Tell, answers begin to surface. An intriguing tale that earned 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE HOUSEKEEPER, BY JOY FIELDING

In the end, I have only myself to blame. I’m the one who let her in.

Jodi Bishop knows success. She’s the breadwinner, a top-notch real estate agent. Her husband, Harrison . . . not so much. Once, he had big dreams. But now, he’s a middling writer who resents his wife’s success.

Jodi’s father, Vic, now in his late seventies and retired, is a very controlling man. His wife, Audrey, was herself no shrinking violet. But things changed when Audrey developed Parkinson’s ten years ago and Vic retired to devote himself to her care. But while still reasonably spry and rakishly handsome, Vic is worn down by his wife’s deteriorating condition.

Exhausted from trying to balance her career, her family, and her parents’ needs, Jodi starts interviewing housekeepers to help care for Audrey and Vic. She settles on Elyse Woodley, an energetic and attractive widow in her early sixties, who seems perfect for the job. While Vic is initially resistant, he soon warms to Elyse’s sunny personality and engaging ways.

And Jodi is pleased to have an ally, someone she can talk to and occasionally even confide in. Until . . .

She shuts Jodi out. And Audrey’s condition worsens—rapidly. Who is this woman suddenly wearing her mother’s jewelry? What is she after? And how far will she go to get it?

 

an interior journey thoughts

Almost from the very beginning of The Housekeeper, red flags begin to appear, and we are reminded of that saying: “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

As I rapidly turned the pages, wondering what would happen next, I knew that nothing good would come down this pathway. And along the way, other twists appeared to reveal more and more.

I was breathless by the end but satisfied by how it all unfolded. Despite those who did not survive, of course. A 5 star read for me.

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REVIEW: THE COUPLE AT NO.9, BY CLAIRE DOUGLAS

The internationally bestselling author of Do Not Disturb and Just Like the Other Girls delivers a heart-pounding psychological thriller about a couple who inherit what seems to be their dream home, until they make a horrifying discovery—and the danger begins.

The Victims . . .

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering human remains. The remains of two bodies, in fact.

The Investigation . . .

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Saffy has nothing to worry about—until the police launch a murder inquiry and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner. Her grandmother, Rose.

The Witness . . .

Rose is in a nursing home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police, but its’ clear she remembers something.

The Killer . . .

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saf-fy fears she and the cottage are being watched.

The Truth . . .

What happened thirty years ago? Why did no one miss the victims? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger?
 
 
 
an interior journey thoughts

From the very first pages of The Couple at No. 9, the reader is swept up in a tense and intriguing tale that reveals secrets from the past and memories that are elusive.

Saffron is newly pregnant and living in an adorable cottage left to her by her grandmother Rose, a woman who is now in a care home dealing with dementia. Occasional lucid moments are all they can hope for, and now that strange things are happening in the little cottage, Rose’s memories could be very important.

Meanwhile, Saffron’s mum Lorna has come for a visit, and while they are both dealing with Rose’s issues, they are struck by some strange events happening in the garden. Bodies buried! Who are the deceased, and what happened to them? The police are busy asking questions of them all, including Rose, and finding they have more questions than answers.

Just when I thought we were on the right track, the whole plot turns upside down and we discover that some of the characters are not who we thought they were. More characters are introduced, and each of them has a piece of the puzzle to reveal.

I was completely drawn in by it all, and while our characters finally learn how to put all the past secrets into perspective, there is definitely a price to pay. A great twisted tale that kept me glued to the pages. 5 stars.
 
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REVIEW: EVELYN, AFTER, BY VICTORIA HELEN STONE

Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.

Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.

But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?
 
 
an interior journey thoughts


In alternating narratives between the past and present, we learn about our protagonist’s life in Evelyn, After, and begin to question her choices, even as we can understand them.

Why has Evelyn decided to act out of vengeance? What does she discover about herself in the process? What will her choices ultimately lead to as she follows this journey?

As I journeyed with Evelyn through her story, I wondered what she would do next. Would she find the answers she seeks? Will she finally earn the love she is missing?

I enjoyed Evelyn’s story, especially the ending, which brought peace, finally. 4.5 stars.
 
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REVIEW: 214 PALMER STREET, BY KAREN MCQUESTION

No one was ever supposed to see her…

When Maggie sees the beautiful Venetian blinds moving in the Caldwells’ front window, she freezes. Her favorite neighbors Cady and Josh are away, so who is in their house?

The pretty young woman who answers the door tells a convincing story. She’s Sarah. The house-sitter. Just here for a month. An old friend of Cady’s who needed a place to stay. She’s pleasant and warm, and Maggie wanders back to her house thinking she might have made a new friend. Yet she can’t help but wonder why Cady never mentioned Sarah.

What Maggie doesn’t know is that on the other side of the door, Sarah is starting to panic. No one was meant to see her at 214 Palmer Street…
 
 
 
an interior journey thoughts

In alternating timelines, Sarah Aden is on a mission to uncover the secrets of 214 Palmer Street. The house where her husband Kirk grew up, and where something terrible happened one night when he and his friends were teenagers, is the root of all the secrets she must discover.

She is masquerading as a house sitter for the Caldwells, who now live in that house, and they are meant to be gone for a month.

But others are also determined to keep those secrets, like Gavin, Clarice, and Kirk. What happened back then in that bomb shelter, where the kids hung out, almost as if it were a playhouse? After the terrible events of that night, Kirk’s parents covered up the bomb shelter, and everything was hidden. But what happened to Jeremy, their other friend? And how could she find out?

Rapidly turning pages, I couldn’t wait to find the answers, and as the narrators took us back and forth in time, we tried anticipating what would happen next, but nothing could prepare us for the journey to the truth. 4.5 star
 
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REVIEW: INSOMNIA, BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT, MADNESS LIES . . .

Emma can’t sleep.

CHECK THE WINDOWS.

It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer.

LOCK THE DOORS.

Her mother stopped sleeping just before her own fortieth birthday.
She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it.

LOOK IN ON THE CHILDREN.

Is that what’s happening to Emma?

WHY CAN’T SHE SLEEP?

 

 

an interior journey thoughts

From the very first page of Insomnia, I was captivated by the character Emma and how her sleeplessness impacted everything in her life. Just when we begin to realize that other forces are at play, though, I was already hooked and couldn’t believe in anything but her innocence as I rooted for her.

The obsessive-compulsive actions triggered by Emma’s sleeplessness felt like a very real thing that could be more than the insomnia. The history of her mother’s mental illness was a factor in it all. But I couldn’t imagine her as responsible for everything else happening.

Phoebe was a character I couldn’t believe in. She felt like a liar and someone playing games with her family. Was there more to the story? And Robert, the husband, was another one I couldn’t rely on. What was his story?

When characters seem so untrustworthy, we begin to blame them for everything. And then, out of nowhere, comes a character who seems kind and empathetic…and just when we start to trust her, she turns out to be the worst of them all.

A great five star read that I rushed through in order to find the answers.

***

REVIEW: THE SUMMER PLACE, BY JENNIFER WEINER

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

 

an interior journey thoughts

The Summer Place is the centerpiece of this captivating family story that carries the reader along as we get to know each of the characters. There are so many layers with them all, and we gradually come to love them, not wanting to say goodbye to any of them.

The Pandemic is also a big part of this story that goes beyond its Cape Cod setting, resonating with those of us who are still feeling the sweep of it.

I felt a connection to each of the characters, but my favorite was probably Sarah. She felt like someone I could enjoy as a friend or even a daughter.

I loved how the author brought us into the whole family with all of their quirks and issues, and how we could root for each of them, from Veronica the matriarch to the younger members of the family, like Sam’s stepson Connor.

When I finally set the book down, I wanted to start over with it again! Definitely a five-star read.

My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

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