The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (307 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.
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Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

Lila Bennett’s day starts out amazingly well. She won a big case and, despite the anger from the prosecution’s side, she’s flying high on that victory. That is, until her boss convinces her to meet him for a drink before going home. It is her biggest mistake in more ways than she’ll ever know.

This was one of the more unusual books I’ve read this year. At the moment of the attempted kidnapping, Lila’s world splits into two realities. In one, she narrowly escapes her captor and goes on to try and right all the wrongs she’s committed in the past, trying for a better life. In the other, she’s taken hostage and held captive. And right up until the very end, you’re not sure which reality is the real one. Even then, you’re still left wondering if maybe you were duped. I know I put the book down after I finished and wondered whether either reality had been real.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about Lila, but the more you get to know her and her past deeds, you realize she wasn’t a very good person. However, she really does strive for redemption though both realities, accepting her faults and wanting to make amends. Captured Lila has no other choice, but Free Lila is making amends as a thank you for avoiding the fate of Captured Lila.

I was very proud of myself with this novel, however. It’s very, very rare for me to figure out who the bad guy is when I’m reading this kind of book. I’m not sure if I’m not paying close enough attention or if I’m too absorbed in the story itself to care, but for the first time in recent memory, I figured it out. That said, every time I thought, “Oh, her captor is…” the next chapter had me doubting myself all over again. After all, Lila had no shortage of enemies. Even though I’d figured it out, the reasons for their behavior hadn’t ever occurred to me, so that was still a surprise in the end.

The Two Lila Bennetts is one of the most unusual and engaging novels I’ve read all year. Each reality grabbed my attention and held it. And those rare moments when the two came together made my nerdy little heart shout with joy. The writing duo of Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have done it again. Every book gets better and better, leaving me eager for the next. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next novel.

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