The Rule of Three by E.G. Scott

The Rule of Three by E.G. Scott
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Once a week, three women get together for book club in Kingsland, a private, gated community full of neighbors looking to do their business away from prying eyes. On the same night, their husbands meet up to play poker, where much more is being planned than anyone could guess.

But on this particular night, something goes terribly wrong. When all three men end up dead or hospitalized, and the entire town is being questioned, no one seems to be able to answer the only question that really needs asking: What the hell happened?

This is a riveting story, not just of powerful women or vengeful men, but of secrets, neighbors, blackmail, business gone wrong, and the most intimate of desires spilling into full view.

The novel starts right into the exciting action with a triple murder/attempt and three grieving wives. Who could have done such a thing? Two sisters and a friend are investigated along with some obvious suspects. The story delves deeper into some shady dealings with the husbands.

Interesting secondary characters round out the scenes, and they are easy to picture. Suspense builds as the mystery deepens. The setting is presented well, so readers can picture enough details to fill things out.

As things roll along, it will be tricky for readers to guess who the guilty party is. There are twists in this book, and the surprises add to the intrigue.

For those who love murder mysteries, this one is worth checking out.

One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner

One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner
A Frankie Elkin novel, book 2
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Timothy O’Day knew the woods. Yet when he disappeared on the first night of a bachelor party camping trip with his best friends in the world, he didn’t leave a trace. What he did leave behind were two heartbroken parents, a crew of guilt-ridden groomsmen, and a pile of clues that don’t add up.

Frankie Elkin doesn’t know the woods, but she knows how to find people. So when she reads that Timothy’s father is organizing one last search, she heads to Wyoming. Despite the rescue team’s reluctance, she joins them. But as they hike into the mountains, it becomes clear that there’s something dangerous at work in the woods…or someone who is willing to do anything to stop them from going any further.

Running out of time and up against the worst man and nature have to offer, Frankie and the search party will discover what evil awaits those who go one step too far…

“Why do I do what I do? Because at the end of the day, the people left behind matter as much as the ones who are missing. We mourn the ones we’ve lost, but we agonize over the pieces of ourselves they took with them.”

Though the book is a bit long at 395 pages, and slow to get to the heart of the story, it still is a memorable read. At first, I wondered what I’d gotten myself into because the book seemed to be just words spoken from Frankie’s point of view about hiking to find a missing man in the Ramsey, Wyoming mountains. However, author Lisa Gardner’s fantastic writing style and her main character drew me in.

Yes this is a book about a guy going missing in the mountains, but as I read more and more the story of Timothy missing in the Wyoming woods became the back story. Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic, a drifter that has a knack for finding missing people. Frankie’s character is so developed I feel like I knew her, and I felt as if I was losing touch with a friend once the book ended.

The author’s talent for creating character development really shows in this second book of the Frankie Elkin’s series. The deep conversations Frankie had with each of Timothy’s friends revealed a lot. The first hundred or so pages some readers may find slow, drawn out or even boring but I was in awe reading the details and conversations between Frankie and the other hikers. The conversations weren’t boring but informative. It gave me the feel that Frankie was getting to know them but also investigating to get more details not only about what happened to Timothy, but she also got to know Timothy though the words of those who loved him.

Frankie is a lady with her own demons. She lives for what she does. It makes it very admirable because other people would do it for the recognition, but to Frankie every single person matters and it’s not about the recognition or monetary gain, or lack thereof. Readers will get to know her struggles, and see that she is outside of her comfort zone, but she perseveres and doesn’t give in.

As the story progressed, I was still at a loss as to what happened to Timothy. The search wasn’t going as planned. Someone didn’t want the crew searching and they made it very clear. The action picks up midway through the book when the searchers become the hunted. The question changes from will they find Timothy to will they survive? The mystery of what happened to Timothy is revealed. The denouement is a short reveal and I’m not sure if the motive behind it all really made sense. The author didn’t give much or elaborate.

The book is well written with great characters, suspenseful and a good feel to it. Everything isn’t perfect, nor does it end perfectly, but to know there is someone who is touching lives, willing to help people with no ulterior motive and is making a difference as she passes through makes this a book worth reading.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Historical, Recent-Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, LGBTQ, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

It’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. And when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-averse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.

There’s a whole ‘lotta mystery goin’ on.

This is my second book by Fiona Davis and it’s an interesting book. The writing is good and the characters interesting. The premise is fascinating, the family lives in the library. I’ve never heard of that, which doesn’t mean it’s never been done – just that I’d never heard of that, and is quite honestly my dream place to live. I love books and getting to live with them? Yes, please.

The thing with this book is that there are two timelines. I like how the author intertwined them. There were twists I didn’t see coming and I did like it. Honestly, the plot was fascinating, but it left some areas to be desired.

I liked Laura, but she seemed too consumed with her desires and dreams. Now that’s not a bad thing, in that she wanted something that was hers. In 1913, that was a lot to ask. So I liked that she wanted a chance at her dreams. What I wasn’t a fan of was how she acted so put upon because she chose to pursue an education, while not really keeping an eye on her children. Jack, her husband, was just as guilty. He was so consumed with his book that he ignored the family, too. I wasn’t a fan of how these two characters came across flat. They were in a rough situation, so I could identify with the idea they had too much on their plates.

I wanted to like Sadie, but my goodness this gal seemed to hand-wring an awful lot. Yes, she wanted to figure out what was happening to the books and pieces coming up missing, but there were times when I’d hoped she’d be stronger. She came across kind of flat, as well, and I got that she was a divorcee, but it almost consumed her in the way Laura’s degree and subsequent dealings with the early pieces of women’s liberation did for her. This might not be a deterrent to some readers in the way it did me, so by all means. Do read this book.

Plus, there’s the mystery of who is taking the prized collection books. It took me a long time to figure out the mystery and I was happy to go along in the journey. It’s worth the ride.

That said, this was an interesting book and those wanting to read about living in the library will be happy. The descriptions of the library, the innerworkings and discussions on the tomes kept there are fascinating. If you’re looking for a book that takes place at the library, then this might be the one for you.

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full length (317 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband–and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society.

When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home’s basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner–1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages Nellie left clues about her life–including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.
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Soon Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister–even dangerous–side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.

Recipe for a Perfect Wife is a dual narrative novel, cleverly written, and connecting the lives of two housewives who lived decades apart. When Alice and her husband move into an old house once occupied by Nellie and her husband, Alice discovers a few surprises when she dusts off old books and letters from the 1950s.

Alice wants to write a novel but has writer’s block. She hopes delving into Nellie’s old letters she can find inspiration for her book. As it turns out, Alice finds more than just inspiration for a juicy story. She is prodded into certain actions.

Both couples have problems, and both keep serious secrets from each other. Nellie is abused, and readers’ hearts will go out to her. How can she escape this life? Can she, or is she trapped? Nellie decides to take drastic action, capable of shocking readers.

Alice and her husband keep things from each other, but Alice’s secrets and lies escalate. She becomes increasingly irritated, perhaps goaded on by the memoir of a desperate 1950s housewife. Alice, like Nellie, makes some poor decisions in reaction to the less-than-stellar treatment of their husbands.

Suspense keeps the pages turning, and unfolding occurrences are not what one is likely to expect. There are surprises in this book. Both wives find their voices and their strength but not in the typical positive way. This is an interesting story that leaves a reader thinking.

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton/Penguin
Genre: Recent Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.

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Snooping, concern and McCarthyism… oh my!

This is my first book by Fiona Davis and I’m glad I got the chance to read it. I’ve been on a binge reading recent historical and historical novels, especially if there’s a period in history that interests me. This one did because I enjoy the 1950s. This book deals with women handling the highs and lows of the McCarthy era.

The plot is interesting. A pair of women living in the famed Chelsea Hotel in New York with the artists and artsy types. One is an actress and the other a playwright. Interesting, right? I mean, I read Trumbo and have done reading about that era. There’s a lot to work with.

But this book deals more with the characters, not so much the time period. The Chelsea Hotel becomes a character, which is neat because it becomes more of a person than a thing. I liked that aspect. The characters of Hazel and Maxine left a little to be desired. I wanted to like them. I wanted to root for them, but they seemed a bit too one-dimensional to me. Now other readers might love them. They just didn’t strike a chord with me. It was more like reading diaries or the everyday lives in detail, rather than being drawn into the story. Again, it might just not have been the right book for me at this time.

It’s a good enough book that I suggest you try it for yourself. You might love it. It might be the read you’re looking for. Give it a shot.

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (347 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

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Grand Central Terminal has an art school. It was active in the late 1920’s and Clara was the only female teacher. She taught illustrations but she found her department head didn’t think much of them. Or of her if she was being honest…

Women have always been viewed as less worthy in the work world. Men are confident and aggressive and they need the money for their families. That doesn’t mean Clara is going to give up.

The author offers you historical facts about Grand Central and the artists which makes the story intriguing and interesting. Her writing style draws you in and keeps you reading. Even if you’ve never seen the terminal, you feel like you know it.

Clara is torn between two men and two forms of artistry. Her life is not easy. Fame comes and goes and she loses the things and people she loves, but she doesn’t give up. She never expected to meet a woman fifty years later that can help her save that which is almost lost.

Virginia is an interesting character. She’s lost her husband, is trying to find a job she can handle, and her life is confused. Put her together with Clara and you have a real mess.

This story sounds so much like life really is. Nothing goes along smoothly, the women have trouble getting along, and the general theme is never give up. This author teaches you as she takes along the ride of life. This was a very satisfying read despite the sadness interspersed.

The Address by Fiona Davis

The Address by Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (368 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility–no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda–Camden’s biological great-granddaughter–will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages–for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City–and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich–and often tragic–as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden–and the woman who killed him–on its head.
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With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives –and lies–of the beating hearts within.

Seizing opportunities, pursuing life, and daring to reach further than she herself quite believes possible, Sara Smythe is a heroine we find ourselves hoping and cheering for. Her involvement (shall we start by saying her professional involvement) with Architect Camden offers the chance of a complete change in her life…..

And a hundred years later, Bailey Camden, not quite a descendant of this architect, also hopes his greatest creation will carry her own life forward as well.

The Address is the rather tamely-named historic novel, centered on life in the city (or rather 2 cities) 100 years apart.

These two women live much different lives, though there are many similarities. Their characters will enthrall readers, nearly as much as the background location. The one vital connection between the two is the hotel, The Dakota, in New York City. The city itself is so featured to be a draw to readers. I have to admit I found the backdrop, the city, the history, and the architectural points, as unique and interesting as the story-line.

In general, I don’t often care for stories where great leaps in time take place, and here, I could have happily remained with Sara in the more distant past. However, I must admit this time ‘leap’ was well-done, so no complaints. I did not find the character of Bailey to be particularly wonderful, so the more contemporary piece was less engaging for that reason, as well.

The Address is cleverly and engagingly written. Events are entirely unpredictable; some characters are riveting. Its definitely one to add to your reading list.

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (398 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

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Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives.

A double murder at a local gas station and Telly Ray Nash’s foster parents are found murdered. Has Sharlah’s brother killed again?

I can always count on Lisa Gardner for a suspense thriller and she did not disappoint me. Her normal style of descriptive details is ever present, so that I feel that I am there physically and also in the character’s head. I really liked the idea of FBI Profiler Pierce Quincy and Rainie taking in a foster child… and what a match. Sharlah is so receptive to the profilers training and mindset. With her family history, I think she admires the role that her foster parents chose as a career and towards the end of the book she actually puts to use the things she has learned from her foster parents.

I did get a little lost when the details started being revealed. I wanted to make sure I understood how things tied in together and I didn’t want to miss anything so I reread a few chapters. Once I was clear, there was that feeling that a Lisa Gardner book gives me; that moment when I’m reading and I ask myself “how did she come up with this idea” followed by “how did she put it together to play out so smoothly and still keeping the suspense intact”? I applaud and thank her for giving readers a book that offers a satisfying story.

I enjoyed Sharlah and Telly’s voices in the book. Even though Sandra and Frank Duvall are deceased, the way Telly spoke of them warmed my heart. That they took Telly in and gave him support, acceptance and guidance on being a man was wonderful. With foster parents like the Duvalls, Telly’s past doesn’t have to determine his future. Even though Telly hadn’t seen his sister in years he still has the big brother qualities to protect his sister. This story is bigger than Sharlah and Telly. It’s almost a case of deja vu of being in a family that causes Telly and Sharlah to take action to save both of their lives. The story is told in a even pace, with action and suspense and it ends with no loose ends. I would like to read future books about Sharlah to see how her life with Quincy and Raine turned out.

Of course I recommend this book! For readers that enjoy suspense, family closeness and even family disfunction, characters that draw you in or simply even if you just enjoy reading a good book.

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Dutton – An Imprint of Penguin Random House
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (453 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown


Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow?


Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side.

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Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Deceptions and illusions at every turn.

Olivia Taylor-Jones has just had her life upended. She has discovered she’s adopted and her real parents are convicted serial killers. Hiding in the small town of Cainesville to escape media attention, she finds herself at the center of a very different sort of plot that may or may not involve the true nature of her parents. Behind the lies and pretty fakery lie the twisted secrets of the fae and their trickery runs deep.

There are several aspects to this novel. One is the Welsh mythology that runs throughout. I found that fascinating in the extreme. Without having read the first two books however, I was utterly lost and floundered around like a misplaced fish. So-take my advice and don’t pick this book up until you’ve had the pleasure of reading the first two. They are now on my list. With all the mysteries dredged up, the plot kept me guessing and summarily scratching my head. I just didn’t have the correct context in which to read the book in the middle of the series. The author has too many things going on and you need to have the solid background for the book to flesh out in the appropriate fashion.

Another appealing facet of this book was the love triangle between Olivia, Gabriel and Ricky. There was tension in the air and wow…you can feel something building here. Sort of Twilight-ish. Ricky is perfect-in my mind almost too perfect for a biker. Gabriel is moody and I’m not altogether sure where things are going to lead but either way, it’s going to be interesting.

The nightmarish quality of Olivia’s visions was the part that intrigued me the most. Her heritage brings her down all manner of dark passages and leaps in time and space. And bodies for that matter. Despite not knowing exactly what I was reading, I was transfixed by the sheer creep factor of Olivia being inside of her mother’s body while she was in the asylum watching her relative-and seeing the true nature of the nurse as a shining one. So cool. The rage. The thrumming emotion. It was as vibrant as any painting. There is a lot of fear of the unknown and it floods the pages, making any lover of horror, romance or fantasy just revel in it.

My rating of 4/5 is mostly based on the fact that picking up the book, I wanted to be able to understand what was going on and at least be able to have a point of reference without having to have read the others in the series. I didn’t have that and was quite frustrated. If not for that, this would be a five star all the way. The characters were alive. The sex scenes-the ones that there were-were hot and appropriate for the story line. The dialogue was spot on. The mythology nicely woven into the fiber of the book. With Kelly Armstrong I would expect nothing less. She is one of my favorite PNR authors and has been for years. I will be going back and investing time and money in the other books in the series because now I simply have to find out what the heck is going on. The mystery is too compelling for me not to.

Read them in order-but read them. And be sure to sleep with the lights on.

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells
Publisher: Penguin/Dutton
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.

That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.

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Girl Underwater is a suspenseful mix of the struggle to survive and the gentle, but strong emotions that can only develop in the most extreme situations.

The switching back and forth between the days after the plane crash and Avery’s present day effort to cope with the psychological consequences of the trauma propels the story forward. The reader keeps guessing about what will happen next or what exactly happened in those five days of terror that affected Avery so much that she still can’t let go.

This story is much more than just a romance. It’s a novel about growing up, about coming to terms with a horrific event and with life in general. It’s also a story populated with strong characters that are likeable and realistic and that we care for since the very beginning. Despite the focus being on Avery and her struggle, first to survive, and later with PTSD, the author also managed to write very detailed scenes in the wilderness of the Rockies that evoked the desperation of the five survivors. Those chapters were filled with tension, but also with hope and warmth because of the genuine relationships that developed between Avery, the boys and Colin.

A little less convincing were Avery’s reasons for avoiding Colin at the beginning of the story and I kept waiting to read a deeper, more unpleasant reason behind it, but apart from that first meeting of theirs, nothing else was offered as an explanation. Similarly, the ending felt a bit disjointed. Towards the end, Avery changed her mind about how she felt a few too many times, so the epilogue came a bit out of the blue, although it offered a satisfying ending after the harrowing tale.

The descriptions of Avery’s PTSD were very vivid and I could feel her struggle throughout the novel. It made me really feel for her. I admired her strength, but also her parents for raising her to be the independent, strong woman that she was. The family scenes, both Avery’s and Colin’s, were very precious and infused the novel with a feeling of hope.

Girl Underwater is a gripping tale of survival, growing up, friendship and the most epic sort of love. You just have to dive in and let it knock the air out of you by its intensity and optimism.