What turns a carefree, club-hopping girl with lots of friends into an anxiety-ridden, OCD-driven loner?
Meet Cathy Bailey, still recovering from a horrible relationship with Mr. Wrong, otherwise known as Lee Brightman. He swept her off her feet in 2003, when she first met him working as a doorman at a nightclub. Four years later, she is unable to leave for work or come home without obsessively checking and re-checking her doors and windows. She no longer has friends, and she's even reluctant to go to work functions. When Stuart Richardson, a clinical psychologist, moves in as her new upstairs neighbor, a tentative friendship begins - one that may help her overcome her anxiety and beat her OCD.
This novel shifts from past to present, but not in a jarring fashion. As we read about Cathy now, we learn about Cathy then, when she meets a charming, handsome man and falls for him. As he begins to turn a bit creepy, we see how she almost gets out of the relationship, but allows him to charm his way back to her through her friends.
This novel perfectly captures the terror and helplessness of domestic violence - the man who appears so charming to others and is a monster at home. As a former battered woman turned counselor (for a period of time), I can say from personal experience that the horrific picture painted by this novel is so very real and true-to-life. That niggling voice that's telling a woman that something just isn't "quite right"? So easy to overcome - you must be over-reacting, especially because your friends are SO wishing that THEY had such an attentive boyfriend. Does it feel as though he's invading your space? Checking on you too much? Is he actually FOLLOWING you or did he just happen to be in the same place at the same time? Maybe you're just being selfish and paranoid.
Until the day you realize that you weren't. You weren't over-reacting, you weren't being selfish and paranoid. But now it's too late -you're trapped because trying to leave is much more dangerous than staying and you only have one chance at escape.
I wish I could say more about this novel without spoilers. Lee is a horribly creepy, believable, deserving-of-hate villain. Sadly, there really ARE people like this in our world, and the damage that they cause goes much more than skin-deep.
Reading this novel is more than just getting lost in an absorbing story - more than page-turning - more than an "OMG .. what's going to happen next?" experience. It is also a psychological thriller that will leave the reader with a better understanding of the issue of domestic violence and hopefully a better understanding of its victims.
QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):
Some weekends are good; others, not so. Certain dates are good. I can only go food shopping on even-numbered days. If the 13th falls on a weekend, I can't do anything at all. On odd-numbered days, I can exercise, but only if it's cloudy or raining, not if it's sunny. On odd-numbered days, I can't cook food, I can only eat cold things or heat stuff up.
"Catherine," he said, his voice low, shockingly calm. "Don't make me do that again, okay? Just come home on time, or let me know where you're going. It's simple. It's for your own safety. There are some really dangerous people out there. I'm the only one who's looking out for you, you know that, don't you? So make it easy for yourself and do as you're told."
I'd always thought that women who stayed in abusive relationships must be foolish. After all, there had to be a moment, a realization that things had taken a wrong turn and you were suddenly afraid to be with your partner - and surely that was the moment to leave. Walk away and don't look back, I always thought.
Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 4.5 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Sensitive Reader: There are some scenes of violence, some sexual references, and an F-bomb dropped here and there.
Book Clubs: Definitely. First, because it really IS a great read. Second, I can guarantee pretty lively discussions due to the subject matter.show more
by Julie Smith