Before We Were Strangersby Brenda Novak Published 04 Dec 2018
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Something happened to her mother that night. Something no one wants to talk about. But she's determined to uncover her family's dark secrets, even if they bury her.
Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn't sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound--the ominous thump before all went quiet.
In the morning, her mother was gone.
The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn't sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn't just difficult--he was deadly.
Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who'd rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn't whether she can uncover what really happened that night...it's what will remain of her family if she does?
"Before We Were Strangers" Reviews
Brenda Novak really knows how to weave a great story! What would you do if you thought your Father had murdered your Mom? Sloane won't stop until she finds out the truth of what happened on that night twenty three years ago. This book is full of twists and kept me turning the pages well into the night. It is full of mystery and suspense, but also a touch of romance. Full of richly detailed characters that are true to life. This book will definitely keep your interest throughout. Just when you think you have it all figured out, bam, a new revelation emerges. Incredible writing with believable dialogue. I loved this book!! I highly recommend this one!!
The storyline and characters just fell flat for me. It was almost 300 pages into the book before anything really came to the boiling point with the storyline, and then things moved so quickly to the ending and the wrap-up/final twist. The premise was a good one, but something made me not connect.
Having read the Evelyn Talbot chronicles, I knew Novak could write a captivating series; having now read Before We Were Strangers, it’s clear Novak can write a captivating standalone novel too! I read this book over the course of a day, it was so suspenseful, there was no way I could put it down part way through!
Let’s look firstly at the mystery in this novel – Sloane returns to her home town to find out what really happened to her mother. Sloane was only five when her mother left, she had a difficult childhood growing up with her father, as the blurb states, she fears her father wasn’t just difficult, but deadly! Let’s focus on that on that word, deadly, did her father kill her mother? That’s one hell of a mystery to solve, made all the more difficult by the strained relationship she has with her father and brother.
This mystery will have you back-and-forthing on Sloane’s father’s guilt, one minute, you’re sure he’s a murderer, the next minute you’re supporting his innocence, but what never goes away is your dislike for him – what a horrid man! He was a great character, as was Sloane’s brother, Randy, these two really gave you a focus for your dislike! As much as you disliked them was as much as you liked Sloane, she’s the kind of character who is instantly likeable, she may make a few unwise decisions, inadvertently putting herself in danger, but you root for her the whole time, and hope she can find her closure.
This plot oozes tension, especially as it’s set in a small-town, so not only does everyone know everyone, but rumours spread like wildfire. If you love the claustrophobia novels set in small-towns bring, the dark, tense atmosphere, then you absolutely need to read this novel.
Also, if you enjoy romantic suspense/thrillers, you absolutely need to read this novel. There is a strong romance element to this novel; when I think romance books, I shy away from them, but when Novak writes romance in her plots, I find them addictive and thrilling – there’s always a threat hanging over the romance and that danger element makes it exciting. If the plot’s dark, the romance isn’t ‘fluffy, they’re so cute’ romance, it’s more like ‘ride or die’ romance, as in ‘I’m coming with you because you could die if you go alone!’ The point I’m making, don’t let the word ‘romantic’ scare you off! Crime fiction, psychological thriller, women’s fiction, whatever your preference, I still recommend this book! Anyway, Sloane is super likeable, you go girl, go get your man, just don’t die before you get your happily ever after!
The plot is twisted, you’ll meet some twisted characters, rife with suspense and tension, you’ll be gripped until the very last page! The complex conflicts and the heightened emotions will ensure you stay hooked, family-ties and friendships are pushed to breaking point. In this small-town, Sloane must fight through the betrayal and lies to find the truth about what happened to her mother.
*My thanks to DaVaughn Smith (Author Brenda Novak Representative) for providing me with a digital copy of this novel*
Secrets and family drama are at the heart of Brenda Novak’s Before We Were Strangers, in which a woman returns to her small Texas hometown determined to uncover the truth about her mother’s disappearance. Novak’s fans will devour this one, and the relentlessly twisty plot will win her some new fans, as well. This is the kind of book best swallowed in one sitting: suspenseful, surprising, and 100% addictive.
Another great book by Brenda Novak! Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I was so completely invested in the characters and their story - I had to know how the story ended.
Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication December 2018
Although I finished this book on the weekend, I needed to give myself some time to reflect before I reviewed. Before We Were Strangers attracted me for it's gorgeous cover-sure! But more importantly because I like the whole storyline of prodigal daughter(or son) returning and trying to bring the dark family secrets out into the open. Sloane McBride, this novel's protagonist squares off with her father, now her hometown 's mayor and her older brother over the disappearance of her beloved mother when she was only 5. Brenda Novak does a brilliant job at making Daddy McBride a total douchebag and I really despised him
From the very beginning , Sloane's father does every thing to make his daughter want to leave. He's also so horrible to many characters in the book. The snake in the Garden of Eden had more values than this guy. The parts in the novel that focus on the mystery are definitely a slow burn which pretty much escalates in the last number of chapters. But since Sloane doesn't have a lot of friends, her one outlet is the handsome high school boyfriend she left behind. Like many romance novels, Sloane was a hard act to follow because even though hottie married Sloane 's childhood best friend and had a child with her. Sloane was always at the forefront of his mind. Much of the novel is consumed with this love triangle.
And that's where this book falls into 3.0 territory for me. Because I am a you gotta own up to the decisions you make in life, don't go pointing fingers at others. That's where high school boyfriend falls into a very Nicholas Sparks type, Sloane who's facing some really intense shit( I mean she really feels her Dad killed her mother). But nope best friend and high school hottie got to talk about how Sloane was the third person in their marriage and the reason they ended up divorced. All I have to say is that is some messed up shit. You were all 18 years old and now you're parents of an eight year old. Grow the f----- up! I shall credit the author with invoking such a strong reaction from me, but this just wasn't my cup of joy!