This review is part of a TLC Book Tour for You Were Always Mine.
~ About the Book ~
Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.
Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.
Genre: Women’s Fiction (General Market)
Release date: 16 October 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
~ Excerpt ~
She stood to shake out the fitted sheet. But when she went to slip it over the cushions, something stopped her. The corner of the couch, the place that she had claimed as her own, was not as it should be. A gray throw pillow, the one with the plush, lambswool cover, was on the floor, partially hidden beneath the coffee table. She had been clutching it against her stomach only hours before, hadn’t she? Between the arm of the couch and her body? She had left it crumpled there, against the whorl of the elaborate stitching, she was sure of it.
Something dangerous, mercurial rippled through the air. Her house felt different. Jess spun a slow circle, taking in everything from the clock on the mantle to the heavy curtains that were still drawn over the tall windows flanking her front door. Everything was as it should be, except for that it wasn’t.
The hang of one of the curtains was off; it was caught on a lip in the hardwood floor, tented forward as if someone had peeled it back to look at the driveway. Jess hadn’t done that. And the picture beside the half-wall that bordered the staircase was crooked. Just a bit. Not enough to make her blame Max and his broad, oblivious shoulders. He routinely bumped into her and kept right on walking as if he didn’t register the contact. She wondered if he even noticed.
But she did. Jess noticed everything as she hurried around the house fingers flying over shelves and her dining room table and the little desk in the kitchen where she kept her mail. The drawer that stuck open had come off its slider again, and it was wedged at an angle, the right side lifted like a cocked hip. Jess knew that drawer. She hadn’t left it askew in years.
For just a moment, Jess’s vision blurred. Her house swam out of focus and then just as quickly snapped back to hi-res. Everything was just a little bit wrong.
Someone had been in her house.
~ Review ~
This is the kind of book you don’t want to put down once you’ve started, because your emotions are on edge all the way up until the resolution. Jess Chamberlain’s situation has already begun its downward spiral when the novel begins, and the tension within her small family unit was enough to have my mama-heart in a bind all the way through to the end. But then you need to add in the unknown spectre that lurks in the shadows of every page, looming ever larger as the threads of Jess’s life begin to unravel. It was the kind of situation that had me shrinking inward in a subconscious effort to protect myself from what was coming—waiting for the axe to fall, as they say.
I do have to confess that I had my suspicions as to who would turn out to be the villain of the piece—and it turned out I was correct—but that didn’t detract from the story for me. Firstly, I wasn’t convinced I was correct until there was no longer any possible doubt. Secondly, it actually increased the tension in some ways, because I was observing everything that happened in a different light—and constantly questioning my own judgment. It somehow made it more menacing rather than less.
My first instinct was to say that the ending left me feeling slightly dissatisfied for some reason I couldn’t quite pinpoint, but having reread the ending since, I’m not so certain. Perhaps the accumulated adrenaline initially caused me to read the dénouement too quickly to let it have its full effect. I don’t know. In any case, this was an absorbing read. One that should definitely be saved for a time when you can allow yourself to become emotionally invested.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. Her books have been featured in Southern Living, Country Woman, Book Page, Glam, Brit & Co., and on Yahoo Lifestyle, and her latest release, Little Broken Things, was a People Magazine Editor’s Pick. Nicole is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including You Were Always Mine.