Aaron Stryder is in a loveless marriage with sociopath Mary Doyle. Doyle’s family has a colourful past and an even more colourful present. Mary’s sister Sara, however, is not like the rest of her family and Aaron certainly isn’t blind to it. The only problem is that adultery is punishable by death and he’s already in hot water for overhearing an important secret… one that may benefit Sara and himself. Mary’s crazy antics will certainly take readers on a wild ride, but is it worth the read?
While this book certainly has its moments of providing true suspense and terror, it also falls short at times.
The back story was lacking throughout the novel. I never quite understood the reasons behind why the family was involved in such a lifestyle. I also felt that often the verbal exchanges between characters were amateur and lacked a sense of seriousness to the situation. More time could have been spent on imagery, building character background, and building their relationship’s history. Doyle’s family seems very traditional in their values, however, there is the progressive concept of feminism. Mary holds more power than her brothers and forces them to do her dirty work for her. It is not completely understood why this is. Mary is a character full of jealousy and resentment for her past and the way her father felt about Sara.
Sara has always been kinder than her siblings and not into their dangerous and destructive lifestyle. It is mentioned that when their father died, he was trying to turn over a new leaf so-to-speak and admired Sara’s kind nature.
Unfortunately, other than alluding to the father’s past regrets and Mary’s brother’s quick change in heart that isn’t really truly explained, there isn’t much character development.
Sara’s character always appeared weak, easily manipulated, fearful, and vulnerable throughout the novel. If Sara’s family wasn’t protecting her, Aaron was protecting Sara from her family. In the end, Sara never really finds her voice or truly stands up for herself in the way I was hoping for. Mary’s brothers are often like trained minions without a backbone of their own. I never was really able to get inside their heads and get to know them throughout the novel. Aaron never learns that he always manages to bite off more than he can chew with this family. He is always trying to play the hero and always nearly ending up dead because of it. Mary probably has the least amount of character development and this is very disappointing. Mary is selfish, jealous, bitter, vengeful, plays by her own rules, and only believes in morality when someone has wronged her. Throughout the novel, she manipulates her family for her own ulterior motives, and her anger and jealousy is evident even though she commits the same acts of wrongdoing.
Mary’s emotional shortcomings is unfortunately what leaves her alone and stabbed in the back at the end.
Lastly, the transition between past and present is done poorly and at times is very confusing. Transitioning between time periods or thoughts is often difficult to do properly, but it often fails all together when the writing is rushed. That’s exactly how I felt about this entire novel, that it was rushed. I almost felt as if the author was trying to stay in a specific word count and therefore had to force the information out as fast as possible without really providing and savouring the details. This author definitely has a great imagination and at times has a really captivating story, but I was really very disappointed at the overall presentation of both the characters and the events within this novel.
By Laurencia Hoffman
When Aaron Stryder was forced into marrying Mary Doyle – a criminal mastermind – he knew that his life would never be the same. Trapped in a loveless marriage under the threat of violence, he soon falls for Mary’s younger sister Sara, who is everything that her sister is not. They knew that their relationship was dangerous, but they never expected what was to come. Mary discovers their betrayal and doesn’t take it lightly. She tries to keep them apart however she can, exhausting her resources and going to any lengths to get what she wants, no matter who becomes collateral damage. Will the two lovers get away unscathed, or will Mary end their lives before they get the chance?