Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after all they’ve been through, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret.
Just days into their holiday, when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone.
Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him.
Who will find him first?
Oh this one’s a sneaky surprise!
I was eating the cake right away in this novel because my lord, the opening chapter couldn’t have been a more harrowing scene. A woman is standing on a hotel’s rooftop ledge with a little boy in her arms, claiming he’s her son and threatening to jump. All I can say is that the chapter ended what a real cliffhanger and a lot of screaming. It immediately begged for answers. Who is she? Did she really do it and what on earth got into her?
With this in mind I dove into the next chapters where I was introduced to the three and half year old boy’s ‘real’ mother Libby where she is preparing herself and toddler Ethan for their first holiday together. I followed Libby and Ethan enjoying their first days at a splendid hotel and the lead-up to that heart-pounding moment. There was not a doubt in my mind that she wasn’t his mother until…
… the story backpedals to 4 years earlier. I’m not saying I was disappointed because I love the writing style but as the story unfolded I could clearly see how this one was going to unfold… Libby wants a baby so much but it looks like nature is not on her side in this, while Anna is having financial problems. Surrogacy isn’t far from anyone’s mind right? Well it certainly comes into play but the story really isn’t so simple, and while it might seem very easy whose side to take, it really wasn’t, my loyalties and beliefs about who should raise this boy went in the tumbler while reading.
Libby and Anna were both well-developed characters that you can’t help sympathise with at different moments. Love is beautiful and ugly at the same time and I certainly felt a few stabs in my heart. But what is right and what is wrong and how far can they go for what they want? Who to root for? I found this a tough decision! There were some not so smart decisions on both sides and it made me totally invested in their stories but then the author made it even better by adding a thunderbolt of a twist so the story didn’t end up where I thought it would at all. I think I even cried out at one specific moment when I saw what was happening! I was maybe not entirely convinced at first about the novel’s originality but I seriously had to reconsider that opinion. I’m not really a fan of novels about surrogacy but if it’s like this… more please!
Final verdict: emotional, thought-provoking and twisty! I promise I won’t underestimate Haylen Beck (aka Stuart Neville) again ;-).
I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the publisher for review. This is still my honest opinion.