Sunday 26 June 2016

Valentina - S.E. Lynes

When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.
But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane...
That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.
She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears...

What did I think?

This was a psychological thriller and a half.  With mysterious characters and plenty of twists, albeit some were guessable but no less enjoyable, it had me turning page after page until I had devoured every last word.  It left me reeling and wondering just how well we really know the ones we love.

For Shona it is love at first sight when she first sees Mikey but unfortunately he’s not single, although his relationship is apparently on rocky ground.  When his relationship does break up, Shona agrees to go out with him and the rest, as they say, is history.  Only this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

When Mikey gets a job offshore, Shona and their daughter, Isla, move to Aberdeen.  Mikey has chosen a little cottage in the middle of nowhere which at first seems idyllic until Shona realises how vulnerable she is in this remote area.  Shona wants to make friends so she enrols Isla in a trial at a nursery; it is there that she meets the vivacious enigma, Valentina, who is also trialling the nursery for her son, Zac.  With babies the same age in common, they immediately hit it off and Shona invites Valentina to the cottage.  Although they appear to be friends, it isn’t long before Valentina seems to be taking advantage of Shona, leaving the baby for Shona to look after and always finding an excuse as to why Shona can’t meet her husband, the mysterious ‘Red’. 

There were lots of questions floating around my head when I was reading this book.  Why does Shona call Mikey her husband when they aren’t married?  Why aren’t they married?  Where is Valentina’s husband?  Does he even exist?  Just who is Valentina?  With so many questions, it was no wonder I kept wanting to read one more chapter.  I just had to find the answers and I couldn’t contemplate thinking of anything else until I found out how this story would end.

As debuts go, this is one of the best.  It really crept under my skin and made me question everything I had read.  I was fascinated by the change in Shona – she went from being a tough cookie standing up to people in the street to being scared to be on her own in the cottage.  She almost lost her identity by trusting and believing in the man she knew as her husband.  As her rose coloured glasses are ripped from her eyes, all the pieces of the puzzle slot into place and she finally sees Mikey for who he really is.  Who will be left standing at the end?

An absolutely gripping story – Valentina is completely enthralling from start to finish.  This is a debut of such exceptional quality and I am eager to see what S.E. Lynes has in store for us next.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Blackbird, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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I am delighted to release my review as part of the Valentina blog tour.  Please make sure you follow the tour for some amazing reviews of this captivating book.

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