Sunday, October 8, 2017

Deceptions Large and Small

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine


For most of her life, Amber has been envious of people with money. That's why Amber has a plan to insinuate herself into the world of the rich and powerful. Her scheme isn't all that complicated, but it will take a little bit of patience. First, she has to get friendly with Daphne Parrish, the beautiful wife of the even more handsome and extremely wealthy Jackson Parrish. Then she has to seduce Jackson and get pregnant. Then she'll simply force Jackson to divorce Daphne and marry her, while making sure that Daphne's settlement doesn't break Jackson totally, and they can keep the stately home in the posh area of Connecticut. Simple, really, and if she succeeds, she'll have everything she ever wished for - money, power, and a handsome husband. However, as smart as Amber seems, apparently she never heard the adage "be careful what you wish for."


Every so often a protagonist comes along who is actually as much, if not more of an antagonist to a story. By that, I mean the type of character that you love to hate, and Amber is certainly one of these characters. In this book with Amber, Constantine (who, by the way, is actually a pair of sisters writing under one name) gives us exactly this type of character, and allows her to dominate the first half of this novel, entirely. Through Amber, we learn a tiny bit about her past that still haunts her, no small amount about Daphne and Jackson through Amber's eyes, and all the intricacies of Amber's well thought out and carefully executed plan. It occurred to me while reading this that as we witness this, that had Amber ever thought to use her many abilities less deceptively, she might have reached quite a nice level of success and money through her talent and fortitude alone. Of course, that's part of the point here; we watch someone who has real talent allowing greed to usurp any better judgment they might have had just to wreck havoc and revenge on others. That's Amber.

When Daphne's narrative takes over half way through the book, readers will already have a certain level of sympathy for her, if only because she's being so cruelly targeted by Amber. This is where I have to stop talking about the development of the book, because that would force me to give away spoilers, and I refuse to do that. Leave it to say that we start getting the real, full picture and that's where the psychological drama takes over (of course, there's a hint in the tagline for this book, which reads "Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve"). As I noted in another review of this book, I believe that this was a stroke of genius on Constantine's part - first building up the antagonist until we know close to the whole story, and then bringing in the real protagonist to retrace those steps from a completely different angle. Add to this the way that Constantine gives both Daphne and Amber such distinctively different voices, by using harshness for Amber's voice and a more lyrical style for Daphne's voice, and we have a real winner here. (I suspect that these sisters separately wrote these two characters, while jointly working on the plot.)

However, I should mention that I didn't find this book to be perfect. My problem with the book has to do with the ending. What I found was two plot twists that unfortunately extended the climax to what seemed like a bit of overkill for me. I'm sure that Constantine felt unable to give either of these up (I have my own opinion as to which one I would have left out), since they're both great. However, I genuinely feel that if they had had the courage to drop one of them, the ending would have felt more solid and more consistent with the rest of the novel. The old "kill your babies" dilemma let them down, but only slightly. Despite this one drawback, I found myself enjoying this truly gripping book immensely, and in fact, had a very hard time putting it down. That's why I can highly recommend it, but I'm going to reduce my rating by half a star. Even so, four and a half out of five is still a very good recommendation from me!



Harper Collins will release "The Last Mrs. Parrish" by Liv Constantine on October 17, 2017. This book is available (for pre-order) from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books (USA, Canada & Australia), Kobo audio books (USA, Canada & Australia), eBooks, iTunes (iBook or audiobook), The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), new or used from Alibris or Better World Books as well as from an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for giving me an ARC of this novel via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair review.