I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I had previously read The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz and found that I quite enjoyed it, even if it was a genre (romance) that I don’t typically read. The premise for this story seemed more pyschological, which piqued my interest right away; any connection to my undergrad work always makes me excited. I was really happy to get a review copy but I’ve been falling behind on my reading goals so I wasn’t able to get to this book until now …. but better late than never, right? Here is my review:
Summary (Goodreads): They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.
Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night–was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?
But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.
Review: My feelings for this novel are very confusing, but I’m going to try to work through it here in this review. This was an interesting story but it left me with mixed feelings.
Right away, this novel began with Allison breaking up with her lover. As the breakup is happening, she receives a package from her foster brother, Roland, and she decides to act upon it. Thus begins a journey that defines family, and the lengths one will go to protect it.
The plot has 2 components to it: romance and suspense. I really liked the suspense angle, but the romance was not as great for me. The mystery of this entire novel revolved around Allison trying to figure out what happened that fateful night of the “accident” and who could have done it. As she works to understand this, she realizes there are a whole lot of other secrets that need to be uncovered. I quite liked this part because there were a lot of psychological terms and concepts. It’s nothing too difficult to understand but it was an interesting perspective on a controversial area of psychology. I enjoyed watching Allison piece things together, and I liked that she felt conflicted about the issues raised in the story. It gives the reader some food for thought, and that is always a great thing.
And then comes the romance angle. In the beginning of the novel, we are told that Allison used to be a mistress for a very rich man for 6 years. This fact is reiterated multiple times in the story. Now, I didn’t have a problem with her being a mistress. But I did have a problem with the nature of her relationship with her ex-lover. Throughout the novel, she keeps in touch with this character, and while he does play an important role as an information-finder, their friendliness with each other just felt odd. Even if you are a mistress, even if you knew that it was about sex, it doesn’t negate the fact that you would have feelings for this person and feel bitter about the termination of the relationship. But I saw none of that. It didn’t seem realistically portrayed and so, every time it was brought up, it took me out of the story.
I didn’t mind the new romance that developed but it was a little quick for my taste. The author’s attempts at humor through sex jokes were … well, a little lame. It kind of took away from the development of the new relationship.
I think that the one thing that half-worked and half-didn’t work for me was the ending. I liked most of it, but then there comes a crucial point where Allison has to make a decision about where she is going to go in her future. I don’t necessarily think that the choice she ultimately makes is a bad one … but I wish it had been better developed; the way it was done in the book made it seem like she was too weak to make the other choice.
Overall, this book gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, the mystery was intriguing and I liked the interesting debate it brought up. But the romance and conclusion were just okay for me. However, I did enjoy the book as a whole. For this reason, I’m giving it a 3/5 stars and would recommend this to fans of the author and to those who like romance and suspense!