Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra
Mystery > Thriller > Suspense
When an Australian woman is being arrested for shoplifting, she wants not just to avoid the charges but for the police to not learn her true identity—although we don’t know what she’s hiding from. She remembers watching a news program about a sixteen-year-old girl that had been abducted eleven years earlier. She looks exactly like that girl, Rebecca Winters (Bec), and though she’s only twenty-four, because she has bruising on her face, she passes when she lies to police and says she’s Rebecca Winters. She thinks she’s won—as long as she can keep investigators off the trail of where she has been for the last eleven years. Feigning partial amnesia, she is returned to the family. There, she has to appear normal to her mother, father, and twin younger brothers, as well as Bec’s old friends. She thinks just keeping up the façade will be hard . . . until she realizes that she may be in danger for another source.
Are the people who abducted Bec now after her?
This is a page turner. I wanted to know what happened to the real Bec and what was going to happen to the unnamed woman who assumed her identity, thinking she was dodging trouble only to get into considerably more trouble.
My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Chick Lit > Women’s Fiction > Humor
It’s been quite a while since I read a Sophie Kinsella novel, and I had fun returning to her work. On the surface, it seems like a story you’ve read before—a country girl struggling to make it in the big city (London) with a diabolical boss. In the country, she went by Katie, but in her new job at the lowest level on a branding team, she wears nonprescription glasses and calls herself Cat (except when she slips and calls herself Katie). Her boss, Demeter, can’t remember anyone’s name, and calls her Cath.
The staff can’t stand Demeter. Neither can Cat/Katie, but she admires her talent and how she always looks and acts perfect, with the perfect huge house and perfect husband and two kids.
Cat/Katie gets laid off in a spectacularly dismissive manner, but she doesn’t want to admit to her father that her dreams of making it in London failed. She tries desperately to get a new job, but has no luck. Instead, she tells her Dad and stepmom that she is on a sabbatical so she can help them set up a new-agey “glamping” trip on the farm, in which wealthy folks can pretend to rough it in yurts without actually ever going without Wifi.
Over the course of the novel, Katie begins to see different sides of Demeter, sometimes wanting revenge and alternately seeing the dark side of “success.” Basically, that no one is exactly as they seem because we present what we want people to see us as (like pnlly posting happy my-life-is-so-perfect-and-great photos on social media). Katie comes to these same conclusions about herself, her friend, and her on-again-off again lover.
The humor and good writing make this a fun a read.
Face the Flames by Jo Davis
Romance > Firefighter Romance
I normally like firefighter romances, but this one fell short for me, for a few reasons. One was that none of the characters were well drawn. The villain is pure evil and for the first half of the book, we’re just told that he’s evil, not shown. The hero and heroine are evidently free of flaws, and they both fall for each other immediately.
Clay is in a place where he no longer wants to sleep around. The novel begins by him driving the ambulance to a scene and even though he’s in an emergency vehicle racing to an emergency and he has the green light, a driver hits the driver’s side door, which lands him in the hospital for months and in rehab for months after that.
Melissa is a new detective in town. She’s worked as a cop for years, but has returned to Sugarland to see if she can bring her uncle down—the FBI couldn’t do it, but she thinks that because she’s family, she will have an in. This seemed like a great conflict, except it gets introduced and then essentially ignored for several chapters.
The romance has no conflict at all. They both fall for each other immediately. Clay has the personal need to overcome his injuries and get back to his job, but there is nothing in the way of them falling for each other and having tons of sex.
The tons of sex of otherwise good stuff detracts from the tension, so instead of mounting tension, the reader gets a tense scene, then no tension, then tension, etc. It wasn’t a recipe for a successful read.