Friday, August 03, 2018

Review: With You Always by Rena Olsen

Title: With You Always
Author: Rena Olsen
Published: August 2018, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

From the author of The Girl Before comes a tense and incisive work of psychological suspense that examines how easy it is to fall into the wrong relationship . . . and how impossible it can be to leave.

In the wake of a painful breakup and struggling to prove herself at work, Julia feels adrift. When Bryce blows into her life, he seems like the perfect anchor. Handsome, charming, secure, and confident, Bryce brings out the best in Julia, sweeping her off her feet with attention and affection while grounding her with his certainty and faith. Together they embark on a path guided by the principles of his family and their church, each step a paving stone leading to happily ever after.

But this is no fairytale.

Step by step, one small concession leading to another, Julia is slowly isolated from her job, her friends, and her family, until she comes to find that her dream come true is a cage. Then one day everything changes . . . and Julia is faced with no choice but to find a way out.

My thoughts: Two years ago, I read and loved Rena Olsen's debut novel, The Girl Before, so when I saw that she had a new book coming out this year, I had to request it...and OMG...I loved it!!! I don't know what it is about her books and her writing, but she can spin a tale like no other. And we can just take a moment to observe this cover...once again, it so reflects the overall feeling of the totally nails it!!!

This book is set up in six parts and it really takes you on quite a ride. It is your  typical fairy tale - prince charming sweeps a young damsel coming off a bad break-up off her feet - gone horribly, horribly wrong in every possible, conceivable way. Add in the cult-like aspect of a church and you just know where this is headed, but do you really?

I loved that this book takes its time to set everything up, and while you know things are going to get bad - it's a psychological thriller after-all - you are sitting there with baited breath, just waiting for that shoe to drop. It helps build the suspense and that tension is also slowly mounting as you watch for things to start to change. When are the cracks in this fairy tale going to start showing? 

I had mixed feelings about Julia throughout this book. It would be extremely easy to dislike her - after all she was warned at the onset of her relationship to Bryce by her friends and family - yet, it was hard to immediately do so. And even in the midst of everything, you still feel a bit of sympathy for what she is going through, though there is also a bit of anger there, too. I can't say too much more for fear of spoilers, but just know Julia is a complex character and I had mixed feelings about her as her situation changed.

This book sucks you in as you delve deeper and deeper into it. It is cleverly written and keeps you hooked until the very end, with a surprising ending! It touches on some interesting topics and will definitely give you much to think about. It would also make a great book club book - lots of discussion topics, for sure. Rena Olsen is absolutely a must-read author for me, no doubt about it!


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