REVIEW: HER EVERY FEAR, BY PETER SWANSON

 

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered.

When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.

And much, much closer than she thinks.

My Thoughts: Multiple narrators take the reader back and forth in time within the pages of Her Every Fear. It was easy to immerse myself in the stories of the narrators, as they fleshed out their own perspectives. When Kate had a panic attack upon first arriving in Boston, I could feel the fear and anxiety, and wanted to also experience the calmness finally settling within her body.

What we learn about each of the characters will help us put together the pieces of the puzzle, specifically who might have killed Audrey Marshall, but also what motivated the killer(s).

We learn the “who” fairly early on, but we are eager to keep turning pages to find out whether or not Kate will be safe when she is tucked away in Corbin’s apartment, and which one of the people she sees every day might be a killer.

The intensity mounts as one of the characters lands in Boston, with an unexpected plan, and we are eager to discover who will still be standing after a very disturbing and twisted encounter.

It was hard to review this book, for fear of spoilers, so suffice it to say that you won’t want to stop reading until the final page. And you might want to read only in the daytime. This is my first book by the author, but it won’t be my last. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: PRETENDING TO DANCE, BY DIANE CHAMBERLAIN

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It is 2014, and in San Diego, CA, Aidan James and Molly Arnette are meeting with their social worker in preparation for being adoptive parents. After losing their birth daughter, Molly had a hysterectomy, and that loss has led to this frightening journey. Molly has many reasons for her fears, since she herself had an adoptive mother and a birth mother, both living in Swannanoa, NC, on a kind of compound called Morrison Ridge.

But Molly’s childhood is a secret to everyone who knows her, including Aidan. The lies have mounted up, however, as her fears grow through the adoptive process. Meeting the birth mother Sienna and worrying about her place in the child’s life, since they plan an “open” adoption, Molly must confront the past.

Pretending to Dance was an emotional journey for this reader. We follow Molly back into her past in alternate chapters, glimpsing her in 1990, as a fourteen year old girl during the “worst year of her life,” while also seeing the relationships she had with her adoptive mother Nora, her birth mother Amalia, and her beloved father Graham.

Suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Graham had reached a point in his disease that required constant assistance. He maintained a therapy practice, however, which he dubbed “pretend therapy,” otherwise known as Cognitive Behavioral Self-Intervention. “If you pretend you’re the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person.”

How did Molly’s “worst summer ever” lead to twenty-four years away from Morrison Ridge and the family she had known and loved? What events caused her to distance herself from the past and build up a wall of secrets and lies? What was the significance of the “family meetings” held regularly during that last summer? How did Molly’s rebellions further sever her familial ties? And now, years later, would Molly finally make peace with the past?

To say that I absolutely loved this book would be an understatement. Glued to the pages, I laughed and wept with the characters who felt so real that I wish I could continue journeying with them. The end brought the kind of serenity I seek in a book, even as I didn’t know until the end how it would all come together. Recommended for fans of the author and for all who love great characters and a wonderful story. 5.0 stars.

***This e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.