22-year-old Nicole is a monster. She was made to look that way by a man who she thought was the love of her life. A man who really is a monster. Tortured, abused, mistreated, with no where to go, Nicole has spent the last three years underneath John’s thumb. She went from a normal, happy college student to a broken, disfigured possession.
Everything reminds her of where she is right now and where she’ll always be: right here, playing games with John as he sinks farther and farther into madness.
Brian Jensen, on the other hand, is a well-adjusted, single father of six-year-old Liam. Though he is divorced, he and his ex-wife Helen still maintain an amicable friendship, which I thought was awesome. I’ve literally never read, or seen, anything like it. One day, Liam accidentally knocks a baseball straight through Nicole’s window and shatters more than just glass.
Concerned, Brian unknowingly stumbles upon Nicole in the aftermath of one of John’s ‘punishments’. A good guy through-and-through, he cannot leave her, he must rescue her. He immediately calls 9-1-1 and whisks Nicole to the hospital under a different name to keep her safe from John.
While she’s recovering, Brian decides that he cannot let her go knowing that if she does she’ll walk right back into John’s arms. So he decides to offer her sanctuary at his home, and even offers her an assistant position at his home business, while she figures out what she wants to do next. Brian is such a kind, understanding and supportive man. Very easy-going and affable. It’s a struggle and it wasn’t easy, but he’s also determined and stubborn.
“You’re not my keeper.”
“You are your own keeper, Nicole. I’m just your protector.”
The last quarter of the book, even after the major confrontation with John, took a turn that I was absolutely not expecting, but absolutely loved.
Elle Casey is on my very short list of authors whose books I always look forward to. I became a loyal fan after reading By Degrees and Shine Not Burn earlier this year. When I saw that she was writing a suspenseful novel akin to Sleeping With the Enemy I knew I would be all over it.
Though I tore through this book and finished feeling satisfied I was surprised to find how little I was able to connect with the characters. That’s not to say that this book isn’t superbly written, because if it’s written by Elle we know it’s fantastic. I just found that overall the characters were very two dimensional. And trust me, I hate saying this because I really do love Elle’s books. They all acted perfectly, like they had specific roles to fill and lines to say. They felt plastic, not organic. Perhaps that’s why it felt like such a light read and it didn’t draw me in. It could just be me! Many people love it and it’s rating very well.
Until the shocker at the end, I was really just coasting through the book with an overall feeling of ‘that’s nice’. Brian was magnificent and generally I admire his ability to take on the task of rehabilitating a broken woman, but the romance felt forced and as it was progressing I thought ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, this is going too fast!’ Something about it all was too wooden for me. Like fitting a puzzle piece in the wrong spot.
The best part of the whole book was the last quarter. Re: the shocker that she introduces, I wish that had been more heavily emphasized because had it been, I would have been more engaged. As it were, I spent most of the book casually disinterested though my attention was riveted for that last bit. It did make me tear up a little.
Though it deals with the tough subject of domestic violence, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a dark read as the overall tone is actually very positive. It’s a standalone novel and it does have a happy ending.