Categories
Fiction Suspense

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth (FC Review)

Back in the spring, St Martin’s Press was kind enough to send a lovely finished hardcover of The Younger Wife my way! At that time I had done some introductory hype of the book, and then it somehow got mixed in with my general shelves and lost to time and memory 😭

Until now that is! Upon realizing I had never read it, I picked the book up and flew through it this week.  While The Younger Wife doesn’t fit in with my GrimDarkTober reading exactly, Hepworth is a master of domestic & psychological suspense, a different kind of horror that many women experience in their lives…


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Younger Wife
  • Author: Sally Hepworth
  • Publisher & Release: St Martin’s Press, April 2022
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for fans of domestic suspense

Here’s the synopsis:

THE HUSBAND
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the
truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?


I used to love domestic suspense books and have somehow never read this author before.  True that I mostly avoid the genre these days as I am finding them harder to read, but occasionally I like to check out the big hyped books of the year too.

The Younger Wife begins at the end of the story, with the big wedding. Someone is injured but we don’t know who, or who did it, or why yet.  The book itself then takes us through the prior year or so, from the multiple perspectives of Stephen’s two daughters and his new wife.

It’s impossible to say anything else about the book without creating spoilers, so I’ll just say that I did like this one.  Many books in this genre are notorious for going back into the past and giving 30 thousand boring details that no one cares about, which thankfully Hepworth didn’t do. She keeps the background blessedly relevant to the present story and shared just enough to drop some hints and make me care about the characters.

I did like the characters too. None of them were really what I expected after the first few pages and I didn’t dislike any of the points of view, although I didn’t have a clear favorite either.

On that note, the reason I didn’t rate the book higher was because the third person omniscient view didn’t hit home.  It’s usually one of my favorite styles but in this case it kept me a bit too detached from three very personal stories.  There are also two “I perspectives” that come at the beginning and end, but those are secrets.

It’s sometimes hard for me to read about domestic abuse and gaslighting, which may or may not have something to do with some of the family secrets alluded to in the synopsis.  Each member of the family had their own issues as adults – but where did they all come from? What exactly happened to that perfect looking family which is now in such disarray as adults? And really, why is the father marrying someone in her early 30s?

Overall: I enjoyed reading to find out these answers. It was a fast read and created a lot of tension and mystery throughout. I was worried for some of the characters. If you like domestic & psychological suspense, I would recommend giving The Younger Wife a chance!

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson (Book Thoughts)

I won a copy of Mother May I  in a Bookstagram giveaway when it was first published and finally got around to reading it! Coincidentally the paperback just released and there is a book tour going on so definitely check that out if you’re interested!

This is a terrifying domestic suspense novel in which a baby is abducted, and then a battle of which female character is the craziest ensues.  That’s my one sentence summary anyway 😂

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Mother May I
  • Author: Joshilyn Jackson
  • Publisher & Release: William Morris, April 2021
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of that domestic suspense / thriller genre!

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

The New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Never Have I Ever returns with an even more addictive novel of domestic suspense in which a mother must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her child and the life she loves—an unforgettable tale of power, privilege, lies, revenge, and the choices we make, ones that transform our lives in unforeseen ways.

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected that fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of.

Until the day she awakens and sees someone peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price.

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

The trophy wife of a rich lawyer, Bree decides to follow the kidnapper’s demands instead of going to the police. When she discovers that the kidnapper is also a mother, things get both weird and more interesting as we learn why the old woman would want to harm a innocent child.  Who is she really targeting?

Through stories and flashbacks we learn about Bree, her husband, their history and family.  There are a few sultry parts with mild adult content.

Seeing as the backstory related to the plot and didn’t slow things down too much, I didn’t hate it.

The book also raises an interesting debate about sexual assault and power in the context of race and class, and the influence of money and privilege in general. A poor girl with no resources might be derailed, while the rich male students involved aren’t so much as chastised. So, does one event (in which the girl initiated it and brought the drugs) make the men criminals? Do they deserve to be persecuted in the future?  I have mixed thoughts on these situations, like wtf is the girl thinking vs wtf are any of them thinking. Jackson definitely succeeded in provoking thought around these different characters from different backgrounds and I found it quite interesting

I also think Jackson provided a rare accurate description of a resuscitation effort and the violence of the encounter, right down to pretty much how the person’s body looks. This is something that most authors gloss over but I loved how it added a measure of finality to the sequence of events.

Character wise … I definitely liked pretty much all of the side characters (Marshal, Gabriela,0 the kids, Marshal again), more than Bree and Trey.  There were a lot of complicated feelings going around in the book and to emphasize how I feel about Trey, I was pretty satisfied by the ending of the book.

I guessed parts of the outcome but not all!

Definitely one to check out if you like thrillers, suspense, morality, family drama, moms in momma bear mode

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

Greenwich Park (ARC Review) by Katherine Faulkner

Thank you so much to Gallery Books for the ARC and merch for Greenwich Park! I just love the tote and the book is a decent, suspenseful read too

This is a domestic thriller, featuring a group of three siblings and their spouses or significant others. There is a wildcard character from the past that comes back and everything just gets bizarre and suspenseful real quick.

This is a great effort for a debut and I like Faulkner’s style. Read on to see my full thoughts!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Greenwich Park
  • Author: Katherine Faulkner
  • Publisher & Release: Gallery Books, 01/25/22
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ for fans of domestic thrillers and suspense

Here’s the synopsis:

A twisty, whip-smart debut thriller, as electrifying as the #1 New York Times bestseller The Girl on the Train, about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets.

Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.

But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park.

Faulkner is a great writer, and has some investigative journalism experience to help flesh out the story. I would have liked to somehow see a little more of the police procedural, but some of that action was told through Katie’s point of view.

Pacing wise, the book certainly was never boring and moved at a steady pace. It wasn’t always exciting but there was plenty of mood setting and just enough history before things started dicey. I was able to guess some of the outcomes but missed the big reveals.

Helen, the main point of view, was just the most naïve, kind of dumb character ever. She was was practically gaslit at times by another character, but she also had the worst memory ever and let a harmful situation (Rachel) into her house and then just forgot how bad everything was? Frequently? One minute she was finding stolen items, the next she missed Rachel? I didn’t get that at all, but Helen just didn’t seem that bright. I did feel badly for her being taken advantage of

Rachel, the wildcard character, was terrible from start to finish. She was just insufferably terrible, stupid and selfish, not paying rent, being a pain in the ass, etc. Regardless of what happened to her in the past, she has a history of making stupid and destructive life decisions and honestly at no point did I ever feel sympathy for her. Not that I advocate for anyone being brutalized but I mean, we see how she conducts herself!

Katie, the journalist, was the second point of view, and I liked her the most. Serena, the final point of view, felt super fake and it was hard to tell where she would fit into everything at the end. It was fun to try to determine whether Helen or Serena or both were unreliable narrators.

There was a mystery, Greenwich Park, point of view, and yep I took the obvious choice and was wrong about who it was.

It was a good suspense novel though, I felt pretty concerned for one or more characters throughout. I also really liked the setting of Greenwich Park and Faulkner’s descriptions of sights, smells, scenery, even tastes, she is great at providing those visual aspects. I googled Greenwich Park and that also helped me form a visual of the big mansions. It’s a timeless setting and explained why there were so many people there during the day too.

My only issue with the style was that some of the chapters, towards the end, chopped off in odd spots. I knew it was to keep the reader engaged but felt super abrupt sometimes. At least though she did always explain what happened after the action cut off.

I would say this is a good read though, for fans of domestic type thrillers and suspense involving groups of friends, unreliable narrators, criminal cases.

….

Now this is spoiler free but if you haven’t read the book, I might suggest stopping here, even though I give no names or specific events away, I COULD NOT BUY ONE HALF OF THE PREMISE OF THE BOOK AT THE END!!

I just couldn’t! It’s a tiny spoiler to say why, even though I don’t use names or genders, so read it if you want.

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Ok yeah So you are telling me that a passed out, stone cold drunk teenager under duress was able to identify some people hiding in a corner of a shadowy nighttime building…. Then recognize the people 10 years later on?? It just made no sense. Then everyone involved was batshit crazy to some degree. I was so annoyed with these characters that I understand why the eventual murder occured 😂

Heck what did the victim want, what did they think would happen?? The money seems like it should have been enough as far as the blackmail goes! It just seems insane that the Victim involved would go to those lengths to blackmail people she shouldn’t have even been able to recognize, when her original attackers were found not guilty in the first place. Tough crap, move on already?

I know I’m supposed to feel the opposite,that justice was terribly and unjustly not administered… but maybe don’t go crash a college party and drink to the blackout point?

I literally empathize more with the murderers. They should have given the victim nothing and could have easily high tailed away from the situation.

Anyway – shoot me for that but I stand by my feelings 😅😅 I hate manipulative people like what was happening to Helen!

I would say this is a good read though, for fans of domestic type thrillers and suspense involving groups of friends, unreliable narrators, criminal cases