Desert Isle Keeper
Before We Were Strangers
Before We Were Strangers is the fast-paced story of one woman’s attempt to uncover the truth about a long-buried family secret and the deep, abiding love she reclaims along the way.
When Sloane McBride was just five years old, her mother disappeared without a trace. Her father, a powerful man with political aspirations, told everyone she walked out on them, but even as a child, Sloane knew that simply couldn’t be true. After all, she was there on that terrible night, and its memories have never faded from her mind.
It’s been twenty-three years since Sloane last saw her mother and ten years since she last set foot in the tiny Texas town where she grew up. Sloane has been living in New York City where she works as a fashion model, but while most people would say she’s living a charmed life, she knows she’ll never be truly happy unless she can finally learn what really happened to her mother, and so, she takes time off from her job and heads back to Texas.
Unfortunately for Sloane, there are people who are desperate to keep the past hidden forever who begin trying to run her out of town not long after her arrival, and if that’s not bad enough, Micah, Sloane’s high school sweetheart, still hasn’t forgiven her for leaving him all those years ago. He’s reeling from a nasty divorce from Paige, Sloane’s former best friend who can’t seem to accept the fact that Micah has never truly gotten over Sloane.
Sloane never expected to be welcomed back to town with open arms, but she does find the level of hostility that’s being directed at her hard to take, and she naturally begins to question the wisdom of returning to Mill Creek. Maybe it would be better to let go of the past and return to New York, but Sloane knows she can’t give up without a fight. Not only does the truth about her mother’s disappearance haunt her, but she’s also desperate to make amends with Micah, the only man she’s ever truly loved.
Before We Were Strangers contains the perfect balance of romance and mystery; Ms. Novak definitely knows how to hook her readers in and refuse to let them go. I read late into the night so I could see how things turned out for Sloane and Micah, and I enjoyed every minute of the experience. The suspense is chilling and the romance is full of the best kind of sizzling sexual tension.
Surprisingly enough, one of the best things about this book is the skill with which Ms. Novak creates her villains, who are fully-drawn people with complex motivations rather than your garden-variety bad guys. I freely admit to being fascinated by the sections of the story told from their points of view.
Both Sloane and Micah are easy to like. They’re far from perfect, but their flaws serve to make them all the more sympathetic. I’ve run out of patience for cookie-cutter characters who always do the right things, so it’s super refreshing to come across people who are doing the best they can in the face of difficult circumstances. These characters mess up a time or two, but they learn and grow from their mistakes, which is something I really appreciate.
Parts of the big reveal felt a little bit obvious, but I think that may have something to do with the huge numbers of mysteries and thrillers I’ve been reading lately. After a while, it’s pretty easy to figure out where things are likely to go, but this didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. Instead, I took a great deal of pleasure in watching Sloane and Micah put aside their differences in order to uncover the truth and reclaim their love for one another.
This was the first Brenda Novak book I’d read in quite some time, but it has inspired me to catch up with her backlist. She’s written a lot of great stuff over the years, and I fully intend to immerse myself in her unique brand of emotive storytelling again very soon.