Monday, 19 March 2018

Book Review: BRING ME BACK by B. A. Paris

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Read: March 2018
Expected publication: 19 March 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟1/2

Book Description:

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

My musings:

I enjoyed B.A. Paris previous novel The Breakdown, so was a very happy chappie when a copy of her latest book, Bring Me Home, arrived in the mail – thank you Harlequin Australia! J

Warning – there may be tiny spoilers ahead, so read on at your own peril!

The premise sounds very intriguing and hints not only at secrets kept but also messy relationships, especially seeing that our main protagonist Finn is now engaged to Ellen, the sister of his previous girlfriend, who vanished into thin air twelve years ago. Weird, huh? It reminds me of a distant relative who kept marrying women with the same name as his first wife who died very tragically when they were expecting their first child – and each and every one of them ended up meeting a similar fate. But I digress .... Anyway, to me there just seemed to be something slightly askew with Finn that set all my creep alarms off, and he did little to endear himself along the way. To be honest, neither did Ellen, his soon-to-be wife, who appears quite bland and boring on the surface but who is also just a little bit – odd. Paris certainly knows how to create slightly askew characters, which instantly put me on high alert to be suspicious of everyone!

If you like psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators, who each have their own agenda, then this may be just the right story for you. I admit that despite falling into that category, I didn’t love the book as much as I had hoped. I am blaming it on my struggle with unlikeable characters, being one of those readers who needs someone to root for – I don’t mind flawed, or damaged, or seriously disturbed, as long as there is some redeeming feature that ignites a little spark of  empathy in my cold, cynical heart. And I admit that I didn’t find it here, as the ashes of my compassion failed to re-ignite. To be honest, I thought that Finn was a bit of a rude and know-it-all (pardon the Aussie slang) dickhead, acting like a moody teenage most of the time. How he had any friends left at all beats me, especially one as loyal as Harry. Ellen seemed boring and bland, so I struggle to recall anything she did or said. And Layla just sort of existed without really understanding what made her tick at all. In fact, I think the story would have worked better without her POV, as it gave away parts of the mystery that held my interest.

Whilst I normally love a glimpse into the dark and twisted corners of the human psyche, which Paris offers up so generously, I admit I struggled to comprehend what motivated these people to act the way they did most of the time. Despite Finn’s reminiscence of a great romance with the vanished Layla, and his professed love for her sister Ellen, who he is about to marry, I did not feel any chemistry between any of the characters and they seemed almost like strangers. However, these very dynamics may be the drawing card for other readers!

What I really did like was the idea of Russian dolls serving as messages, which was creepy! Even though I thought that the potential for a lot more menace and suspense was missed here. When one doll arrives in less than perfect condition, I thought: “Ooh! Things are heating up!”, but the thread didn’t develop any further from here, sadly. I think I needed a hook, a climax, an escalation of sorts to make up for my total lack of connection with any of the characters. The final reveal also failed to convince me for the very same reasons, though I can see its appeal to people who appreciate unusual plot twists and don’t lose sleep over loose threads.


To cut a long story short, and without giving any more away that may spoil things for other readers, I concede that my inability to connect with a main character marred my reading pleasure. However, other readers who don’t mind unlikeable characters or who are not hampered by the need for a spark of warm-and-fuzzy empathy, may find that this exploration of the dark and twisted corners of the human psyche works perfectly for them. If you normally like the genre, I suggest you give it a go and find out for yourself! 

Thank you to Harlequin Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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