Author: Laura McNeill
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Published: April 19, 2016
First Line: "In her final minutes as an inmate at Arrendale State Prison, Allie Marshall's body pulsed with tension."
Book Description from GoodReads: All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?
Convicted of a crime she didn't commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish; time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.
But Allie's return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie's claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.
As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret; one that holds the key to Allie's freedom.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Review: This book is about secrets, lies, deep rooted jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness. At the heart of the book is Allie, a mother who was convicted of a crime she swears she never committed. After ten years in jail she has returned to her small town in order to pick up the pieces of her life and to reconnect with her now 15 year old daughter. As Allie tries to get back into her former life the reader gets a better understanding of what life is like for someone who is released from jail and goes back to their small town. Allie struggles to fit back into her former life with family, friends and work. Things don't go smoothly and Allie quickly vows to find the real culprit of the crime for which she was blamed. This is where the action happens.
The story is told via flashbacks from 2006 to the current 2016 using a few different characters - Allie, Emma, Caroline and Sheriff Gaines. Seeing the story pieced together via their points of view was a good way for McNeill to slowly divulge her plot to the reader as she provides several viable options for the real culprit. I found myself questioning my guess of 'whodunnit' for the first half of the book. After that I guessed the culprit but the rest of the book was still enjoyable with some edge of your seat action thrown in to increase the energy level.
This book, I will admit, took me a little while to get into. The premise was good, there were some decent twists but I never felt really connected to the characters. Some characters felt a little over the top with the reasons for their actions not feeling quite warranted enough. There was one character that stood out for me and I enjoyed seeing my view of her change over time as I learned more about her and her truly devious and twisted side.
Overall, this was an impressive and engaging book where secrets and deception abound. With the addition of multiple red herrings and some action I found this to be an entertaining read.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.