Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Emily is in a tough spot. She's just been fired after turning up late at work again due to an audition. An audition that led nowhere, by the way. And now her agent is dropping her as a client. What's more, she's got no money in the bank and has just been informed that her rent check has bounced and she's being evicted. 

Then her knight in shining armor arrives in the form of her ex boss. It seems he needs an all around assistant/housekeeper to work with his wife and young daughter at his home in France. Emily will have room and board, access to the household credit card, and a car for her very own use. Oh, and the house, it's in paradise! 

But there's something odd about the family. Scott almost never leaves London, Nina is pretty as a picture but a bit too intense, and Aurelia doesn't talk. At all. But the young girl also suffers from some pretty severe health issues too, which Emily suspects is the reason for any weirdness. 

Unfortunately for Emily, she's about to learn that paradise isn't all it's cracked up to be. And if a job seems too perfect, it probably is!

Anna Downes's debut is a spectacularly page turning one!

Emily is young and somewhat downtrodden. She doesn't have a great relationship with her parents and she basically has nowhere to turn when everything goes to shit. But Scott has had his eye on her for some time. 

And Scott is where the reader first begins to learn that things are...off. He comes to Emily's rescue but she's completely unaware of the fact that she's being manipulated. Plus, she has something of a crush on the man as well, which keeps her from really noticing anything off. 

In fact, Emily is soon starstruck by Scott's entire family and existence. The house—actually two houses: the family home and the guest house where Emily is living and working— is amazing. The estate sits on the water and seemingly has acres of gardens, tons of animals, a pool, a fully stocked outdoor kitchen, the works. So when Emily arrives and is told emphatically that the main house if off limits, it's not that big of a deal. She understands the family wants their privacy. 

All of that conspires to keep Emily from recognizing all of the things that aren't quite right. The NDA she has to sign before accepting the job, the reminders that she not post anything on social media, even the overall privacy of the estate itself is somewhat disconcerting. But again, the family wants privacy. 

Chapters alternate between Emily, Scott, and Nina, which gives the reader the chance to see things that Emily isn't privy to or just plain doesn't notice at all. It also keeps the reader, and Emily, on their toes throughout the story. All in all, Downes does a really excelling job of building the suspense throughout!

If you're a fan of audiobooks, I do have to recommend that edition of the book as well! Downes herself narrates and does a phenomenal job! You can listen to a sample over at Libro.fm.

Dark secrets in blissful paradise, what more could you ask for in a perfect summer read? The Safe Place is such a fun debut! I can't wait to see what Downes will do next!

Order it from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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