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Just Between Us: A Novel Paperback – January 9, 2018
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"Just Between Us winds its roller-coaster plot around our tendency to see exactly what we are looking for―while our little lies take on dangerous lives of their own." -- Oprah.com
"Twisty and compelling [...] a terrific read." -- Associated Press
"A twisty, domestic thriller [...] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed." ― Publishers Weekly
"Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit [...] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers." ―Booklist
"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is suspense at its best--a riveting, fast-paced psychological thriller that brilliantly explores the limits of friendship and the secrets we keep from one another." ― New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline
"Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won't be able to put it down." ― J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me
"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a stunner - a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?" ― Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King's Daughter
"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don't miss it!" ― David Bell, author of Bring Her Home
About the Author
Rebecca Drake's latest novel, Just Between Us, will be released by St. Martin’s Press on January 9th. Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “twisty domestic thriller…tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed.” Rebecca is also the author of four other thrillers, Only Ever You, The Dead Place, The Next Killing and Don’t Be Afraid. An instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program, Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two kids. Find more at RebeccaDrake.com and connect with her at facebook.com/rebecca.drake.writer and on
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The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told. Someone can confide personal news —a terminal illness, having lied on a job application, even an indiscretion with a stranger— and you might simply focus on the story itself, the details and the implications, but if they add that caveat—“ don’t tell”— then suddenly that’s all you can think about doing.
…her small, probably fixed, ferrety nose sniffing the air while she darted beady-eyed looks about the room. I doubted she’d ever been in Heather’s house before—she was an acquaintance rather than a friend, one of those women who believed that personal power came from the collection, and distribution, of gossip.
The coffin was a huge, satin-padded mahogany box, Viktor tucked into its folds like a piece of expensive mail-order fruit that got delayed somewhere in transit, polished and presentable, hiding a rotting core.
It was the sort of death he might have appreciated, high-intensity and cinematic, crashing through a guardrail and plunging thirty feet into the river. A swift end to a short life, but people like that seem destined to die young.
I seem to have been on a suspense junket lately, and I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed them, but it has also cost me greatly as I am now sleep deprived. My lack of somnolence came not only from being enthralled and unable to put my Kindle down but from also ruminating about the characters and storylines once I finally closed my eyes. Just Between Us presented such a conundrum. It was well plotted, full of creative and unimagined twists and turns, and terribly hard to put down. The primary and as well as many secondary characters were well fleshed out and knowable, but not all at once, as shocking surprises were in store from each household.
The four women were uniquely unsuited to be friends. This wily author presented them in a cunning and intriguing manner, tantalizing me with unpredictable and questionable behaviors and thoughts, as well as making them annoyingly realistic and significantly flawed once the layers of civility were removed. Not a one of them were as I had expected or as they had presented themselves, to anyone. Each had dark and shameful secrets hidden in their histories, which were compounded by the new clandestine activities they had been caught up with. They had pulled together with the united purpose of assisting one of their own then became ensnared and saw no choice but to press forward with riskier and outright illicit behaviors. It is so true to form that when in the midst of a crisis options appear limited or nonexistent, but a day or so later all the alternatives of should have and could have, will flood the mind. The storylines heated up and boiled over as the four ladies began to unravel from the guilt and stress with panic attacks, paranoia, resentments, distrust, and destructive bad habits that frayed and fractures their ties. But I never saw this ending coming, it was cleverly devised and craftily enacted, yet oddly disquieting as well.
Friends and bystanders get more than they bargained for by helping out a friend in need.
“You never really know what happens in someone else’s marriage.”
Set in suburban, Pittsburgh, PA readers are introduced to four women: Alison, Julie, Sarah, and Heather. Between their children and husbands, and their busy lives, they love their favorite coffee shop on Friday mornings. Told from four different POVs.
Julie is a multi-million dollar producer–a successful real estate agent married to Brian a VP of business development for a significant medical device firm. She believes in staying positive. Very social, an extrovert and a great organizer. Red-hair and energic. Obsessed with fitness, yoga, and healthy diet.
Sarah is little harder to like (by Alison). A former lawyer, with other hidden issues. Prickly at times. Alison envied the relationship between Julie and Sarah. They had a friendship before she came along. Sarah is beautiful, biracial and wears lots of brightly colored scarves and jewelry. Sarah did not have the patience for whining. She is very can-do and opinionated. She is married to Eric, a teacher and they pinch pennies with a family of five.
Heather, a former model married to a famous plastic surgeon Viktor. Son Daniel. They have the glamorous life and a large home and staff. She now is a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), like Sarah, with of course— a much more substantial household income.
Alison is an IT consultant, and the women think she has an overactive imagination. She is tall and introverted. (She is the most intriguing). My pick. She had little interest in the country-club life or team sports. She comes across a little desperate, lonely, and needy to the others. She and Michael had moved to Pittsburgh because of Michael’s job transfer. No one knew her unfortunate past. The women think she is negative at times. Often her personality rubs Sarah the wrong way.
Julie and Alison had kept their careers. Sarah and Heather had not. There was a big difference between the disposal income of course between Heather and Sarah.
Each of the women has their juicy dark secrets. (Heather, in particular).
Alison is the first to be suspicious of Heather and her bruises. When comforted, she brushes it off. The other women do not seem to suspect a problem with the handsome and charming doctor. Even the broken dishes in the house. Could it have been something sexual she does not want to discuss?
Should they mind their own business or try and help? Julie thought Alison was wrong. Is Alison too overly cautious due to her family history?
Even though Heather denies it at first; however, she ultimately confesses. (think Big Little Lies Celeste and Perry Wright). (things do not play out the same.) She pretends all is ok in their household. From the exterior, they looked like the perfect family.
The friends begin their own sleuthing and investigating into Viktor’s past. His former wife died. However, was it accidental? They slowly discover secrets Heather has not shared until it is too late. Things get complicated. The women fear for her safety and her young son.
“The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told.” Suddenly that is all you can think about.
Then the call comes. Someone is dead.
Self-defense? A crime scene. How involved will they become? There are secrets in every marriage. This is "only" the beginning of the unraveling.
Nothing, or no one is as they appear.
“There are no monsters, just deeply flawed people, all of us given that power to choose, some of us making choices to damaging that they ruin the lives of those they claim to love.”
Drake cranks up the intensity and the adrenaline. She expertly weaves a web of deceit and lies and keeps the reader guessing what will come next.
You feel the fear and hysteria from each of the women. The mistrust. In the blink of an eye, things change, and everyone is making impulsive decisions which lead to consequences.
At 40-45% into the book, you wonder what could be coming next? Plenty! It is just getting started.
Someone is watching. Were they not careful enough? A letter. Photos. Blackmail. Video Things get very complicated.
Action-packed, the hidden secrets behind the façade of ordinary women, across social classes and moral lines. How far would you go to protect a friend? Friendships tested. Betrayal.
Had they been duped? Will they turn on one another? Who can be trusted? Excusing behaviors.
“Brushing way the inconsistencies in character. Finding plausibility in the implausible because we want to believe the person we love is incapable of ugliness.”
The lies we tell ourselves and others. Lines are not always clear between good and evil. Perpetrator and victim.
On a serious note, a peek inside of domestic abuse and violence. It is not always wrapped, in a clear package.
“We hurt those that we love; we make choices that we can’t undo, we throw ourselves headlong into battles in the name of rescuing people who never asked to be saved.”
With all this sleuthing, not sure how they could find the time for their families. However, I was dying to know what happens. Hooked from page one to the grand finale.
JUST BETWEEN US, will keep you reading past your bedtime to learn the secrets held close. I enjoyed the different POVs from the women. The drama was balanced nicely with suspense and humor. Some clever twists and turns you are not expecting. Unpredictable.
I am glad the author chose to end the book with Alison speaking. Very fitting. Underneath the drama, a cautionary tale. The novel is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
For fans of Desperate Housewives, and twisty domestic suspense thrillers. A few come to mind:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen, Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. Looking forward to seeing what comes next!
A special thank you to St. Martin's Griffin and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
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