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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Intriguing Premise + Rocky Execution = A "Meh" From Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Not far from Pittsburgh sits quaint Sewickley, Pennsylvania.  City folks are drawn to its safe, small-town atmosphere, banking on the hope that the place is as placid and peaceful as it seems.  No locale is perfect and, as four women soon find out, even the most tranquil-seeming villages can hide nasty secrets under its serene veneer.  

Alison Riordan, Julie Phelps, Sarah Walker, and Heather Lysenko are four very different women who have become friends because of their children, who all go to school together.  Over coffee at the local cafe, they share their trials and triumphs, swap stories and gossip, offer support and receive encouragement.  No matter how close they have become, however, each harbors a damning secret they'll die before divulging.  Heather's becomes apparent to her friends when they start noticing bruises in odd places on her model-perfect body.  Although Heather denies it's happening, the others recognize the signs of abuse and urge her to leave her wealthy, influential surgeon husband.  When she refuses, they know it's only a matter of time before Heather lands in the hospital.  Or worse.

When they receive the frantic, middle-of-the-night phone call they've been dreading, Alison, Julie, and Sarah are forced to make an impossible decision.  The fateful choice they make in one desperate moment will tear them each apart.  And change their lives forever.  

Just Between Us, a psychological thriller by Rebecca Drake, tells a tense, suspenseful story which I stayed up very, very late to finish.  There's no doubt that it's compelling.  Still, the selfish, unlikable women at the novel's center irritated me.  For being such good friends, I felt little warmth between the four of them.  Maybe that's why their decision and subsequent actions felt so far-fetched and unrealistic.  Despite the fact that I wanted to know what was going to happen, I didn't end up being overly fond of Just Between Us.  The cast just isn't that appealing, the "twists" are fairly predictable, and the ending gets ridiculous.  I like the novel's Desperate Housewife-ish premise.  Its execution?  Not so much.

(Readalikes:  A little like Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Just Between Us from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press.  Thank you!


  1. Hmmm....and I have this one on my Kindle. I'll let you know what I think. I'm listening to a new thriller right now called Need to Know - about Russian spies and a CIA analyst who finds out her husband is a sleeper agent. Anyway, I've been shouting to her while taking my walks - I'm very frustrated with her thought processes. Maybe it will get better and then I won't write a 'bad' review. I don't do 'bad' reviews! But I gotta know what happens at the end now. Gotta! Stay tuned.

    1. Ha ha! You must be quite the sight on your walks :)

  2. Well it SOUNDS interesting. Sometimes ideas are better than their execution though. At least it was compelling enough to stay up late for!

    1. It was definitely compelling. I'm an early to bed, early to rise type person, so it takes a lot to keep me up!

  3. I already have a theory after reading your synopsis. Now I want to read it inspite of your dislikes.

    1. And knowing you, you're exactly right. What books HAVE surprised you with twists or an ending you didn't see coming?? I'm pretty gullible, but you always seem to figure out what's going to happen!

  4. I'm not a huge fan of books with unlikeable characters, but this one sounds intriguing.

    1. Me neither. I don't necessarily have to like a character, but I do have to have SOME connection or understanding of them in order to care what happens to them.

  5. I hate the so-so reads: they keep me reading to the end and then leave me feeling not very satisfied, when I'd just DNF a really bad book. :D

    1. Right? If you're going to suck, suck right from the beginning so I don't waste my time!


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