My experimentation with first novels has paid off again! I have found a new author whose first novel “Tainted” is written with the panache of a much more seasoned writer. The protagonist, setting and slow, drawn out psychological suspense made it a VERY enjoyable read.
The novel centers on Holly Barrett. She is a single mum from an established Cape Cod family. Her house on the shore was inherited from her parents and she is very close to her grandfather who owns an adjoining property. Holly’s adolescence was rather solitary. She had few friends in high school and wasn’t very popular. When a popular boy took an interest in her after he broke up with his girlfriend, she was flattered to be noticed. One thing led to another and low and behold… nine months later she gave birth to a baby daughter. Now, Holly is twenty-three years old and the mother of a five year old. She has never had a real boyfriend and has never even been on a real date. Her life consists of spending time with her daughter and her grandfather. Until one day…
she meets Jack Dane, a handsome, enigmatic Englishman on a bus ride home. (picture Hugh Grant at around 30 years of age). He seems to take a real interest in her. Holly is swept off her feet by his interest and charm. Her grandfather seems to approve of him and her daughter adores him. Only her grandfather’s elderly labrador seems to have misgivings.
After a month-long, whirlwind courtship, she and Jack Dane marry.
Suddenly the man she thought she knew has a real moody side. He plays odd games in the middle of the night with her daughter Katy. He has no friends of his own and wants Holly and Katy to be the center of his universe. He replaces her family photos with new ones of the three of them as a family. The old photos of her dead parents he throws in the garbage.
Like all charming sociopaths, Jack has a ready explanation for his behaviour. Holly is so in love that she accepts his reasoning… until she no longer can…
I eagerly await Brooke Morgan‘s next novel. Yipee, I have a new author to follow!