Listen. Sometimes you just think you’re going to not like a book and then you’re reading it and it’s almost 1 am in the morning on a day you have to wake up at 6 and you know you’re not going to sleep all that well anyway but the book! The freakin’ book!
That is Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes.
I think I was really nervous about it because as a blogger for Blogging for Books, I’ve read and reviewed two of their books previously: The Martian by Andy Weir and The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. Loved the first, totally did not like the second. And of course it’s easier to remember the dislike than the like.
All that said, Until You’re Mine is the story of Claudia Morgan-Brown, a social worker with two wonderful stepsons, a husband in the British Navy, and a baby girl on the way. Her life is pretty much a dream come true, and because her husband is gone so much for work and because she wants to keep her job as a social worker after the baby is born, Claudia hires a live-in nanny, Zoe Harper, to care for her sons and soon-to-be daughter. Her references are impeccable. She’s trained. She’s experienced. Her boys love Zoe and she jumps right in to her job. Yet there is something that leaves Claudia unsettled about Zoe, and it definitely doesn’t help that two pregnant women are viscously attacked and left for dead.
This novel is told in multiple perspectives, mainly Zoe and Claudia (first person) and the detectives on the case of pregnant women who are attacked (third person). This is a totally awesome technique because it amped up the suspense part, especially during Zoe and Claudia’s sections. It added so much tension as we heard Claudia’s thoughts on Zoe and Zoe’s thoughts on Claudia and the detectives as they piece together the bits and pieces of the crime… and as you waited for all of these random pieces to intersect.
Samantha Hayes is a very strong writer. She had a good mix of narrative and dialogue, of description and suspenseful action. This novel could have gone horribly wrong if not balanced well, and Hayes hits the nail on its head as she weaves together all of these twisty worlds and people.
Speaking of twisty worlds… I have got to say, for a novel that’s just a hair over 350 pages, I could not believe how many crazy plot twists were revealed/came together at the end — and done so well. Again, this could have gone wrong and felt too contrived, but because of the careful groundwork laid throughout the book, especially the sections told from the points-of-view of Claudia and Zoe, it works so well that you cannot help but be shocked. At one point, I was reading in my car waiting for a friend to meet me for dinner and I reached the end of a chapter, reveling something I didn’t see coming, and I honestly wanted to stay in the car and keep reading because it was such a good twist. (Whatever you do, do not accidentally read the last line of the book as you look for the total number of pages because you will get a feeling about some, but not all, of the twists and figure them out! If you do this, however, don’t worry, because there are lots of things that will still surprise you!)
My only criticisms of the book are relatively minor. First of all, I fell like the entire story with the detectives’ daughter Grace was only there to move their plot along, and it didn’t really mesh well with the rest of the story. It felt like a burden to read those parts and it didn’t really fit in to the story overall. I think Adam and Lorraine’s story could have done well without Grace.
My other criticism is that while I think Hayes is a fabulous writer, the writing as a whole felt too tight, like she was trying too hard to craft something that bordered on literary. I would have liked to see her relax a little. Not relax the detail and tightness of the plot itself, because those were perfect, but just the words and syntax and structure in general to give it a little more fluidity.
All in all, this was a solid, satisfying read and I will be reading more from Hayes in the future!
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher’s Blogging for Books in return for a fair and unbiased review. I wasn’t asked to give a positive review, just an honest one!