Written by Rachel Caine
Published by Thomas and Mercer, July 1, 2017
My star rating – 3 stars
Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.
With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.
But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop. Find it on Goodreads
I’ve been in the mood for a good mystery lately. So when this one showed up on sale for Kindle, I snatched it up! I love stories where people need to reinvent themselves – there’s something about escaping a situation and choosing your next destiny that I love! But, sadly, this one didn’t quite meet my impossibly high standards when it comes to mystery thrillers. It wasn’t bad! But it wasn’t mind blowing either.
First of all, let me start with the positives. The serial killer in the story was totally creepy as hell! He was able to lead this double life and keep it from his wife and children. The things he did was just terrible and awful! And, even though he’s in prison on death row, he’s still able to display his methodical control over his wife. It was really chilling knowing that these monsters can still control people from behind bars. And the way he went about it was creepy as hell!
I also loved the main character. The synopsis describes her as a warrior mom…. and that she was! This girl was a total bad ass and smart as hell. Faced with a constant threat of the public wanting revenge for her husbands victims, she was constantly on the run. She needed to protect herself and her children from both physical and mental harm. Living in a day and age where social media makes everything so accessible, this task was more than a full time job. The things she did for her kids was absolutely amazing and I hope that I would be as bad ass as her in that situation!
I will also say that the pace was steady and a few of the plot twists really caught me off guard.
But, here’s where I struggled: As steady as the pace was, it was really repetitive. It was always the same scenario – be on the run. Prepare to run. Get ready to upheave and leave. And the story of Gwen was also really repetitive. I get that the author was reiterating her situation and her panic, but it was the same thing over and over. It was unnecessary really and I felt that her back story was sometimes just used to boost her word count. We already knew what happened and I didn’t need to be told 20 times to understand.
And the main characters decision to not tell her children literally ANYTHING made me shake my head. I’m a mother as well, and I know that I would want to protect my kids at all costs. But she literally told her kids nothing about their father, what he did, and what the threats were. She left them completely in the dark about the horrors their father committed. I get that she didn’t want to be the one to taint their opinion of their father, but he was a serial killer for god sakes! They should know who he is before they continue to love him! Let them make their own decisions! They were old enough! One was a teenager and the other was 11 I think. She also kept the real reasons why they were always on the run from them. Not helpful. They were angry for not being able to have friends or possessions, and were never allowed to understand WHY! I get that she didn’t want to show them just how awful these threats were. BUT – she didn’t need to show specifics and every single threat. They still deserved to know that they were in danger and just how the public perceived them.
I also figured out the main plot twist/killer as soon as I met the person. It didn’t necessarily take away from the ending (which was still good), but it would have been nice to be surprised.
The book was good! I still enjoyed the reading experience. But I’m entirely too picky when it comes to mystery/thrillers. And I had too many issues with the main character and repetition to give this one a higher rating. I don’t think that I’ll continue this series.
Until next time, happy reading!