Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

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My Review:

If you are looking for a book to bring to the beach this weekend, here it is!  Not Her Daughter is a gripping page turner that had me completely swept up in the drama and questioning what is morally right.  Sarah, a successful business woman becomes upset when she observes a mother mistreating her young daughter, Emma, in an airport.  Weeks later, by chance, Sarah observes the same girl while at school and feels overwhelming compassion and the urge to save her.  She secretly follows her home to check on her wellbeing and after witnessing the mother engaging in more abusive behavior, Sarah decides to act.

Amy, an unfit mother knows she has a beautiful grey eyed, brown haired daughter but is not able to manage her work, her baby son and her useless husband along with this button pushing, irritating daughter of hers.  She cannot control her inner anger and is constantly lashing out at her bothersome child.  And then Emma is gone.  Is Amy worried and upset…or relieved?

An illegal kidnapping, or a rescuing in the best interest of the child – that is up to you, as Sarah and Emma, the unlikely duo hit the road together.

Being on the run with the now missing five year old girl is not an easy task and Sarah does her best to keep her friends, family and coworkers oblivious.  Then she runs into her ex boyfriend and her secret is in jeopardy.  Can she escape judgement along with the authorities?  Does Emma’s family even want her back?

This quick read is perfect for an escape from reality…don’t nitpick the practicality of the story and just enjoy the ride!

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

Rea Frey is the author of four nonfiction books. Her debut novel, NOT HER DAUGHTER, will be released by St. Martin’s Press August 21, 2018.

When she’s not exercising, mothering, adulting, wifing, eating, or writing about herself in the third person, you can find her hard at work on her next book and ghostwriting for other people.

Read more at reafrey.com.

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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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My Review:

Pleasant Court is a family neighborhood where everyone is cordial and happy.  But author Sally Hepworth takes us behind closed doors and skillfully reveals secrets, lies and untruths.  A baby was left in a park, a mother lied about her pregnancy, a husband had a secret child, a wife had an affair.  There is also friendship, love, compassion and support to round it out – the complexities of life are exposed in The Family Next Door.

This family drama exposes lots of hidden mysteries. After postpartum depression, Essie and Ben relied on Barbara, Essie’s mom to help out with their two daughters.  Ange’s husband Lucas was unfaithful so she told him a lie to keep him interested in the marriage.  Fran stepped out on her husband Nigel and then questioned whether or not he was the father of their youngest child.  And then Isabelle moved in next door.  With a sketchy background and no husband or children, she stood out as an unlikely neighbor.   She weaseled her way into the neighborhood friendships and ultimately we learn why she is there, but it is not what I expected!

This story offers a glimpse of reality, showing complications in marriages, past histories, parents and children, with a shocking secret.

Always a fan of Sally Hepworth, I enjoyed this peek behind the curtain; a quick, easy and fun read.

As Seen on Goodreads:

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange’s compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won’t let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park – and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’ll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

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About the Author:

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) and The Mother’s Promise (2017), and The Family Next Door (Feb 2018). Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.  She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

 

Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

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As stated in Goodreads:

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

 

My thoughts:

While on a vacation solo, Violet meets a stranger she falls for and cannot forget.  All she knows is that they both live in the same city but they have no way to reach each other.  For several years Violet pines for this mystery stranger, wondering what could have been, and one day an ad appeared in the local paper describing her and their brief encounter on vacation and asking her to meet him.  The connection survived the set of time and their love grows: this second chance meeting was a sign for Violet that she and Finn, her mystery man, were meant to be.

Violet and Finn, now happily married, take their 3 year old adored son, Bear, to the beach where they first met for a special vacation, and while Violet is relaxing at the ocean, Finn and Bear mysteriously disappear without a trace.

Caitlin, Finn’s old friend from high school, and her husband George and their twins live next door to Violet and Finn back home.  Finn and Bear shockingly appear in Caitlin’s house asking her to hide them, and threatening to blackmail her with secrets that will ruin her family.

Violet is alone and distraught waiting for her son to be located, Finn is desperate and looking for a safe place where he can think things through, and Caitlin is faced with harboring a kidnapper and his son or divulging secrets that will surely ruin her marriage.

This gut wrenching debut is fast paced and well written as the details of the past trickle in and the truth is revealed.  The tangled web of lies by omission has the lives of Violet and Finn along with friends Caitlin and George hanging in the balance.  “All the wrong people know all the wrong secrets” and in Almost Missed You, author Jessica Strawser skillfully shows us the price one pays for keeping it under wraps in this suspenseful story of love, loss and the quest for a happy life.

Buy your copy of Almost Missed You HERE.

 

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Jessica Strawser for providing me with an ARC.

 

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By day, Jessica Strawser is the Editorial Director of Writer’s Digest magazine, North America’s leading publication for aspiring and working writers since 1920. By night, she is a fiction writer with a debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, forthcoming in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press and another stand-alone novel to follow in 2018. And by the minute, she is a proud wife and mom to two super sweet and super young kids in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A Pittsburgh native and “Outstanding Senior” graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, she counts her New York Times Modern Love essay and her Writer’s Digest cover interviews with such luminaries as Alice Walker, Anne Tyler and David Sedaris among her career highlights.