Top critical review
Family problems, suspense and deadly revenge
24 October 2018
Emma and Shaun have a ten-year old daughter called Maisie who they both adore and would do anything they could to keep her secure and happy. But sadly their marriage is dead although they still cohabit and share Maisie’s care giving. The trouble starts when Shaun meets and falls in love with Emma’s boss, workaholic solicitor and widow Joanne. She too has a daughter caller Piper who is the same age as Maisie. They even have similar tastes in some hobbies but do not like each other. Blithely Joanne and Shaun move in together quickly, hoping Piper and Maisie will complete their happy, fun loving merged family.
Almost immediately Emma knows something is terribly wrong. Maisie all but stops eating, she stays alone in her bedroom as much as she can get away with and almost overnight becomes friendless. She is not the bouncy, confident, delightful daughter that she was before the split up. She loves her father but hates that she is never alone with him. Emma suspects there is more to her sudden loss of weight than she knows about, but Maisie refuses to speak about her visits in any detail and begs her mother to let her stay at home and not have to visit Joanne’s swish penthouse apartment to play happy families. Very concerned by Maisie’s loss of weight and unhappiness, she seeks out advice from her family doctor who tells her not to worry. As it’s all part of growing up.
Work becomes a nightmare. Joanne refuses to bring her private life into the office. When Emma insists they discuss the matter, she is edgy and uncooperative. Emma becomes more and more frustrated because she knows her daughter is unhappy and suffering. She wants to know what is going on. She cannot talk to Maisie’s teacher because she is on long term sick leave. Instead she goes to see Maisie’s dance tutor who is very concerned and helpful, saying she will keep an eye on things.
Both of the leading female characters are keeping dark secrets in this novel. Emma knows she must become a detective and find out more about Joanne’s past but Joanne is way ahead of her. She already knows all about Emma courtesy of Shaun. The two rivals are both determined to win the battle between them. I liked feisty Emma but detested Joanne who was manipulative and deceitful. I thought Shaun was a bit of a drip and should have trusted the Maisie he knew so well. Joanne worked him like a puppet. I thought the pace of the first two thirds of the novel was very slow but it did eventually pick up. I enjoyed the study of the relationship between Emma and Maisie, but could not find much warmth in Joanne’s relationship with Piper, who was indulged and spoilt. This is where Shaun should have intervened, but just didn’t bother, and all to Maisie’s detriment. I was shocked by the abrupt and chilling ending and have thought long and hard about my review of this novel. It’s given me food for thought.
I received this book through my membership of NetGalley and from publisher Bookouture in return for an honest review. Thank you most sincerely for my copy. I quite liked parts of the novel but disliked other parts for the reasons I have already mentioned. It’s a 3.5* review from me.