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His Other Life - Beth Thomas (2015)

Grace and Adam have been married for a year and are settled into their home and their lives. So when Adam goes out to get a curry and never comes home, Grace is completely bewildered. But as she starts to pick apart their relationship, she begins to see that she never really knew Adam in the first place. A thoroughly appealing plot, picking up on the current trend in women's fiction for these psychological, relationship dramas, this is a book that's very much a la mode right now. It never really quite nails its genre though, lacking the conviction and intensity of the psychological thriller and the lightness of rom-com. There is a tendency in the novel towards flippancy and playfulness, but for me this jarred with the more serious substance of the plot. Thomas creates humour easily and well, but unfortunately it doesn't mesh with the whole. When Adam disappears, Grace's reaction never feels quite right for a wife who has lost her husband, and the speed with which she gets over it similarly feels incongruous. Unfortunately, we don't see enough of their life together to hint at the flaws in Adam's behaviour and the possible instability of their relationship. An easy and accessible read, for me this is one of those books that on paper sounds wonderful but doesn't quite live up to expectations. But for those who don't like the darkness of the psychological thriller but enjoy its intrigue this may offer the perfect compromise. (JC)

Carry You (2014)

After the death of her mother, Daisy is finding it incredibly hard to cope with everyday life. Even getting up from the couch or her bed and going outside seems like simply too much. Her best friend, Abi, wants to do anything she can to help Daisy get back on her feet and become the same old Daisy again. She decides to sign both of them up to do a charity walk at night to raise money for cancer research. Daisy has to start training for the walk, which gets her into all kinds of situations and is the start to her finding her way again, learning how to deal with everything that life throws her way. What's not to love about this novel - from the pretty cover and inspiring storyline to the fun characters and captivating style of writing. It was incredibly easy to warm to Daisy and I quickly find myself rooting for her to get back on her feet and try to make the best of things. Daisy's really funny and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her develop as a person throughout the story. There are some brilliant secondary characters, like her amazing best friend Abi and neighbour Felix, who becomes Daisy's walking buddy. Trying to deal with a loss and finding yourself again is something almost everyone has to deal with at a certain point in their lives, and Beth Thomas has managed to turn this experience into words in a beautiful way. Her writing is fabulous, and I am already excited about her future releases. Carry You is a read I can't recommend enough to others; it's warm, touching and truly inspiring. (JoH)

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