Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union
Pub Date: 22nd June 2021
Review Date: 1st June 2021
Is her new husband really who she thinks he is?
When young doctor Lauren Matheson meets Joe, an older divorced businessman, at a glittering poolside in California, it’s a chance encounter that seems life-changing for them both. Back home in London, their feelings only strengthen. But Lauren soon discovers that building a happy future with Joe is going to be an uphill struggle…
She’s determined to be a good stepmother to his children, four-year-old Toby and complicated teen Grace. But under the watchful eye of Meredith, Joe’s intimidating ex-wife, Lauren can’t seem to do a thing right. Why won’t Joe ever take her side against Grace? And what really happened between him and Meredith?
As her husband retreats into a cold, secretive version of the dashing man she met in California, Lauren starts to wonder if she’s made a costly mistake. Was Joe ever the man she thought she married?
One of the things I love about Carol Mason (and I say one because there are loads) is her ability to make you feel like any of her characters could be somebody that you know. Ordinary people that have been thrown into a difficult situation and the harder they try to sort things out, the worse things become. Lauren, the protagonist in this author’s latest novel Between You and Me, is no exception.
Twenty-nine-year-old Lauren is a junior doctor who, whilst in Santa Monica, meets and falls in love with Joe, an older man. Although it seems to be mutual love at first sight, Lauren is devastated when Joe declares things are complicated and is unable to take things further. However, not long after Lauren arrives back in London, Joe tracks her down and tells her things have changed. The couple soon marry, and Lauren becomes step-mother to fourteen-year-old Grace, and four-year-old Toby. But far from being Lauren’s happy-ever-after, her ready-made family soon chip away at Lauren’s psychological well-being. Grace – who has some very strange habits when it comes to personal modesty - seems to hate her. And Meredith, Joe’s ex-wife, seems to treat Lauren like she’s some kind of inexperienced hired-help, putting her down and belittling Lauren’s ability as a step-mother at every opportunity. When Toby falls from the slide in the park: (a) because although Lauren is crazy busy as a junior doctor, she goes out of her way to help Meredith, who seems to think her job is way more important than Lauren's ; and (b) because Toby is a being a little shit who won't do what Lauren tells him; Meredith blames Lauren. The more Lauren tries to help her new family, the more trouble she seems to find herself in. There is a real sense of injustice at how she is treated, and whilst I would class this novel as women's contemporary fiction, it does border on domestic noir. At her wit's end, Lauren turns to an online forum for step-parents for advice, but is shocked to find others don’t seem to be so tolerant when it comes to putting up with the whims of their step-children.
Things go from bad to worse for Lauren, and thanks to meddling Meredith it looks like Lauren could lose everything, including her career as a doctor. Can Lauren turn things around? And just what skeletons are rattling around in Meredith’s cupboard?
This was another twisty and compulsive read from one of my favourite authors - and don’t you agree that cover is just stunning!
I recommend this book for fans of Emma Cooper, Kim Nash, and Jo-Jo Moyes.
About the Author
Carol Mason is the Amazon Charts and Kindle #1 bestselling author After You Left (more than 300,000 copies sold), The Secrets of Married Women, The Last Time We Met, The Shadow Between Us, Send Me A Lover and her latest novel, Little White Secrets which hit the Bookstat digital bestsellers list at #3 in the week of its launch. She was born in the North East of England where most of her novels are set. When not writing, Carol loves to read, cook and binge watch Netflix. She can be found on Facebook where she loves to interact with friends and readers as well as via her website at www.carolmasonbooks.com.
Thank you to the author for an Advance Review Copy of this book.