Monsoon Season by Katie O'Rourke is a bit hard to pin down - on one hand it seems as though it might be chick lit, on the other it might be a psychological thriller about an abused woman. In a way it has elements of both; there are no jump-out-of-your-seat parts, but we do see a little of the mind of abuser and victim and then we also see a woman who is leaning on her female friends and family for support in her time of need.
Riley Thomas has left her Massachusetts home and moved to Tucson, Arizona with no real purpose in mind other than broaden her horizons. She meets Ben and they begin a relationship, moving in with one another and seemingly being very happy. This is not to be though as Ben hits Riley and we first see her on a bus heading back to her childhood home.
As the story continues, it gets even more complicated for Riley and just as she is beginning to make some progress and admit that she made the right decision, an horrific accident affects her whole family.
I suppose the part I liked best about the book was that it was written not merely from Riley's point of view, but from the points of view of her friends and family - even down to several sections written from Ben's perspective which, initially made him seem quite sympathetic - his father had also been an abuser, but it's cleverly done as we sympathise with Ben's voice as he justifies his actions towards Riley - something which is never justifiable and an angle we wouldn't get to see if we only saw what Riley sees.
Riley herself is, at times a little frustrating, as she tries to get over Ben but nearly goes back to him on several occasions, but having never been in her position, who am I to judge how hard it must be to leave someone you love, even if they are violent towards you?
For a first novel, this is pretty good and, although by no means new material, it's written in an interesting way and I'd very much recommend it.