It’s Friday! Countdown to Christmas (February’s top blog post!)

So I thought I’d do a weekly countdown to Christmas and share the top blog posts of the year every Friday. As I only started on the 26th February the one I’m sharing today only had 4 views but that made it my top blog post of February 2016 and here it is! Next week I will share the top blog post for March.

Top Blog post for February 2016 is…

Penance by Kate O’Riordan

About this book..

‘You know I did a terrible thing. What you cannot know is that there exists an extreme irony, in that, but for one unforgivable sin – far more terrible things might have transpired.’

The lives of Rosalie Douglas and her teenage daughter, Maddie, are changed forever when they meet Jed, a beautiful, charismatic young man at Bereavement Counselling. Inexplicably and self-destructively, Maddie holds herself accountable for her brother’s drowning accident in Thailand.

Jed moves into their lives and their home. Calming the tensions between mother and daughter. He understands the twisted wilderness of grief. Lover and confidante to a besotted Maddie, gentle surrogate son to a grateful Rosalie – on the surface their lives are transformed. But underneath a deadly and morally corrupt triangle is taking shape…

Rosalie commits an unspeakable act which forces her to unravel the truth behind the beautiful stranger in their midst. The truth behind the death of her son. And the true extent of just how far she’s prepared to go – to save what remains of her family.

My thoughts..

I have to start by admitting that I thought I had read and enjoyed previous books by this author but it turns out I had read Kate Riordan and NOT Kate O’Riordan! Having played detective, it seems they are different people (but if I am mistaken then please feel free to correct me!!) But that didn’t stop me really enjoying this taut, character driven, psychological thriller.

At the start of the book we meet Rosalie after a terrible accident in Thailand has claimed the life of her son Rob. Her husband Luke is also devastated and although he and Rosalie have recently separated due to his affair, they come together as a family to support each other. Their daughter Maddie seems to have taken it much harder than expected and seems to inexplicably blame herself. When Rosalie and Maddie attend a grievance counselling group they meet the charismatic and strikingly attractive Jed, who is about to chance their lives forever.

This was a beautifully written book about a family’s grief and the feelings of guilt that surrounded them, which they struggle to overcome. It is a slow burner to start with until Jed enters the picture and weaves himself into the family. We know that he is probably too good to be true but are never quite sure of his true intentions until much later in the book when the pace increases, the tension cranking up to an almost unbearable level. I totally empathised with Rosalie, her maternal instincts were true to life and I understood why she acted the way she did even though her extreme Catholic guilt seemed to cloud her judgment at times. I found Maddie to be a bit more complex, but the author found the perfect balance of bratty teenage girl who thinks she knows it all but who really just needs her mum to love and accept her no matter what. The theme of obsession played across many different levels of the storyline in the clever and, at times, emotional journey of a family looking for the truth.

A recommended 4* read for me and a new author discovered which is always a bonus!

Many thanks to netgalley and to Little Brown Books for the opportunity to read an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Available to buy on 1st March

About the author..

Kate O’Riordan was brought up in the west of Ireland. She is the award-winning author of five novels, and has also written for stage and screen and most recently has been writing scripts for MR SELFRIDGE. She lives in Twickenham.




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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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