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Thursday, July 25, 2019

New Domestic Drama by Beloved Women's Fiction Author Too Dime-A-Dozen For Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For 42-year-old Amy Whey, life is beautiful in its happy simplicity.  Her days revolve around caring for her professor husband, their adorable baby, and her teenage stepdaughter.  On the side, she teaches scuba diving lessons and helps her BFF, Charlotte Baxter, run their neighborhood book club.  It may not be anything truly enviable, but for Amy, this stable, pleasant life represents everything she's ever wanted.

When beautiful, seductive Angelica Roux glides into the neighborhood in her flashy red sports car, alarm bells start ringing in Amy's head.  Before she knows it, "Roux" has slithered her way into not just the neighborhood, but also into Charlotte's beloved book club.  When she proposes a secret-spilling drinking game to the attendees, it seems like harmless fun—to everyone but Amy.  It soon becomes apparent that, as unwilling as Amy is to part with her deepest, darkest secret, Roux already knows it.  And she's ready—even eager—to shatter Amy's happy little world in order to get what she wants.  With everything on the line, can Amy beat Roux at her own game?  Or is her perfect life about to implode, hurting everyone she's ever loved?

I'm a big fan of Joshilyn Jackson's trademark Southern novels, in all their sweet, sassy glory, so I'm always eager to read her latest and greatest.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered her newest is a bit of a departure; instead of a heartfelt family drama, Never Have I Ever (available July 30, 2019) is a chilling domestic thriller.  While the novel stars a Southern setting, relatable characters, and juicy secrets, it lacks a lot of the warmth that saturates Jackson's other stories.  It's also less unique, more generic, just another domestic/psychological thriller among many.  That being said, Never Have I Ever is a compelling page-turner.  I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the tale, but not charmed in the way I usually am with Jackson's fiction.  While I appreciate her efforts to branch out, I'm really hoping Jackson returns to her roots for her next book.  It's with her quirky, earnest women's fiction that she really shines.

(Readalikes:  I feel like I've read a million books with a similar premise, but no titles are coming to mind.  Help?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, sexual content, depictions of/references to illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Never Have I Ever from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!


  1. I think sometimes authors get bored with their own work and want to try something different. Obviously, that's not always a good idea and it can easily backfire on them in the way you describe here. One of my favorite writers actually killed off one of his most beloved characters so that he wouldn't be tempted to go back to him. I was not happy.

    1. Yeah, I applaud Jackson for trying something new, but I miss her sweet/sassy brand of Southern fiction - the thing that makes her books stand out from the crowd. This one just felt like everything else on the market, you know?

  2. Ooh Roux sounds like trouble haha. But I can see where this would be a lot different from what she usually writes- it does sound like quite the thriller. I do like a suburban thriller type read once in a while, but you're right- there are a lot of 'em.

    1. Ha ha. Roux is trouble! I do enjoy suburban thrillers, but the market is so saturated with them right now that it's tough to find a unique one. If I had read this one, not knowing who the author was, I wonder if I would have felt differently about it? Jackson's an excellent writer no matter what she pens, I just much prefer her usual style/genre to this one.

  3. I recently found out about this book and have been eager to read it. I'm not sure about the author's other works, but this really does appeal to the thriller fan in me.

    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it! Like I said above, I might have felt differently about it if it were written by a different author. Or not.

  4. When we expect something from an author and it's why we choose to read their books, it can be disconcerting that they depart from the usual. This sounds good though.

    1. Agreed. It can be really jarring. I knew this was a domestic drama going in, but I still expected it to feel like a Joshilyn Jackson book and it just didn't, which I found disappointing.

  5. Ooooh, I have this near the top of my wish list and was really looking forward to it. I understand the faults you found in it, but I think I'll still go ahead and read it when I get the chance.


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