Grace Notes by Charlotte Vale Allen

 Published by Mira Books

ISBN 1 741 1602

Early in her marriage, Grace Loring became the victim of her husband’s sudden unpredictable rages.  Taking her infant daughter and few belongings, Grace fled to the safety of her brother’s home.

Now Grace is a successful author, and accustomed to abused women writing to ask for advice.  Grace is contacted by a troubled young woman named Stephanie Baine.  In the course of their email correspondence, Stephanie reveals details of a nightmarish life: her terrifying abduction as a teenager; the escalating abuse she is now undergoing at the hands of her husband.  Grace’s advice is clear:  Stephanie must do whatever is necessary to escape this madman.

After several weeks of intensive exchange, the emails abruptly stop, and Grace begins to fear the worst for Stephanie.  Then emails resume, and what Grace comes to learn casts doubt on everything she believed about this woman.  Who is Stephanie Baine?  Is she really a young woman in danger, or is there something else – something more sinister – going on?

I read the blurb with interest and thought it sounded like an interesting read.  Unfortunately I don’t believe it really delivered on its full potential.

It was a good story about Grace Loring, herself a victim of abuse who wrote a book, and as a consequence has email conversations with some woman who reach out to her.  Stephanie Baine is one such woman.  A woman so bitter and twisted and treated with contempt by her husband and her own parents that Grace is immediately sympathetic.  She offers the woman advice, that to be honest, I didn’t really think was necessary. 

Throughout the story, there are flashbacks to the teenage abuse, yet they are not credited to anyone, and the ending was a little abrupt.  It was like Ms Vale Allen was trying to finish the story because she had run out of things to say.  I struggled with some parts of the book, it seemed to wallow a little. 

The last part of the book didn’t make a lot of sense to me, I am not sure why Stephanie would insist on having the emails sent to her rather than to her lawyer – she would know that it was a better chain of evidence and I don’t believe this part was adequately explained.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the story, but if you like a good mystery yarn, then you will like this one.

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