Before We Were Strangersby Published 04 Dec 2018
|Before We Were Strangers.pdf|
Something happened to her mother that night. Something no one wants to talk about. But she's determined to uncover her family's dark secrets, even if they bury her.
Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn't sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound--the ominous thump before all went quiet.
In the morning, her mother was gone.
The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn't sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn't just difficult--he was deadly.
Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who'd rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn't whether she can uncover what really happened that night...it's what will remain of her family if she does?
Before We Were Strangers Reviews
★ 2.5 STARS ★
Sloane McBride’s mother, Clara, disappeared 23 years ago following a violent argument with her father, Ed. Sloane was only five-years old at the time but vividly recalls the details of what she saw and heard that night. She left town suddenly and without warning when she was eighteen to escape her father’s domination and emotional cruelty, leaving behind her boyfriend, Micah, and best friend, Paige. Now she’s returned home to Texas after having gained fame and success as a model to finally investigate and solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. At the top of her suspect list? Her father.
The story begins with the death of Sloane’s beloved agent, mentor and benefactor who had encouraged her to go back home and reconnect with her family and friends. I really felt how alone Sloane was with no real meaningful relationships to anchor her anywhere. Even her return home was met with suspicion and hostility. Every relationship was complicated, including her best friend and ex-boyfriend who had married each other, share a son and are now divorced. The reactions to her return felt real, even if some were harsh and unfair, consistent with small town dynamics.
The mystery was gnarly, taking twisty and uncertain paths, especially with unreliable witnesses who were swayed by Sloane’s influential father, the town mayor. I found Sloane pretty naive and too trusting at times, especially where it concerned Paige. The romantic element was subtle, providing some relief to the tension. I enjoyed this story for its unpredictability and mystery, thinking I had this thing figured out until a major curve ball was thrown. There are a host of characters you won’t like and everyone has their share of flaws. That just made everything more interesting.
(I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review)
I have become a fan of Brenda Novak from reading several of her more thrilling titles but with over fifty books in publication she has anything from the lighter contemporary romance to darker thrillers. Before We Were Strangers is more along the lines of a romantic suspense novel but with enough mystery to keep readers turning the pages and guessing along.
In this story Sloane McBride had left home at eighteen and had not looked back for the last ten years. Sloane had her reasons for escaping her small town but they weren’t the normal dreaming of something bigger or searching for more, Sloane had wanted to escape her father who she suspected may have had something to do with her mother’s disappearance when she was five.
However, Sloane had not only left behind her father and brother but also her high school boyfriend and her best friend. As much as Sloane loved them both she couldn’t stay near her father for another day which made leaving tough but returning will be even tougher since the two had turned to each other after Sloane’s absence. Having married, had a child and divorced in the last ten years Sloane isn’t sure how either will handle her return as she looks for clues from the past.
Before We Were Strangers was another Brenda Novak novel that didn’t take long at all to become completely engrossed in. Sloane’s memories of that night when she was five and her mother vanished have had her in fear that her father is a murderer. In the years that have passed her father has also gained power in the small town making getting at the truth that much more tough for Sloane but with a bit of help and determination the secrets slowly rise to the top.
I will admit to being a little leery of the whole love triangle angle of the story since I’m usually not a fan of dating a friend or family members ex, again with those boundaries, however this is the creepiest, most disturbing dynamic that made the book even more compelling. There’s actually no “cheating” involved but instead this set up is even more mind games to add to the suspenseful side of the story. A great read from beginning to end that I’d definitely recommend checking out.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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What I love about reading is when you find that "gem" that keeps you thinking when you put the book down, or you can't put the book down because you are racing to the next page. A good book should make you "feel" and this did not disappoint.
Sloan is grieving over the loss of her friend who has been a father to her. She shared with him the reason she left her childhood home and he urged her to get answers. Sloan believes her father killed her mother when she was 5 years old and while she is terrified of him, feels that the answers will provide the closure she needs to move on with her life.
Her father is the mayor of the city she grew up in and is finding his power has a far reach. He does not want her to come home and blocks her attempts for a long stay as he is aware of the reasons for her return. He is up for re-election and believes her inquiries will thwart his efforts for another term. She is forced to stay with an old friend who married her childhood boyfriend. This is awkward to Sloan as she left abruptly after her high school graduation which broke her boyfriend, Micah's heart. Sloan's friend, Paige and Micah, are divorced, but there are lingering resentments as Paige feels Sloan is the reason for the breakup. This part of the storyline unfolds masterfully as the author is able to capture the pain that Paige feels as she cannot hide that she loves Micah too much, yet Micah does not love her enough. Sloan is in the middle as Paige feels guilty for marrying her best friends boyfriend, but is not willing to give him up. And the tension between Micah and Sloan is so palpable. Their feelings have not changed but they know if they act on their feelings that the consequences will be unforgiving.
Micah is also a police officer and he is aware of Sloan's intentions for her short stay. He is compelled to help her as he has concerns with her father's behavior and believes his power with the town needs to be reigned in. They learn that Sloan's mother had secrets that divided her family and as she starts to uncover the truth, she realizes her own life is in danger.
I won't give away any more as this story is a worthwhile read. I read it in one sitting and it just had that adrenaline that you want in a story. Another excellent reading experience from this author!!
This was such a pleasant surprise of a read! I had never read one of Novak's novels prior to this one so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. As soon as I read the first chapter I knew this would be a fast paced, good time of a read and it did not let me down! I would give this 4.5 stars because it filled every single expectation I had for the specific genre it is categorized as and felt like every aspect of this novel was above average! I liked and really hated the characters, which is a great thing... I had absolutely no idea how this one would end, and kept going back and forth on what I thought would happen, and when it was finally revealed in the very last couple of pages I was completely satisfied! This had a big romance element to it which I normally would not enjoy but it was done in a way that I was able to definitely tolerate it if not appreciate it for the fact that sometimes love is a bumpy, winding road and things don't work out perfectly right away. the character development like previously stated was on point to where I absolutely hated a couple of the characters and found myself really rooting for some others. The one complaint I would have, if I had to make any complaint, was that at some points the reactions of the characters seemed a little less than realistic, but that was truly on a rare occasion... I would highly recommend anyone that likes Chevy Stevens novels to go out and try one of Novak's as I felt this one read a lot like most of hers, but really anyone that likes a good murder mystery / family drama / romance should pick up this book in particular!