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 fairy tale.
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.
Olsen follows her debut, The Girl Before, with a tale of domestic abuse set in rural New York that suffers from a predictable plot, a bland female narrator, and abusive characters who behave in stereotypical ways. Aspiring graphic designer Julia is swept off her feet by rich and charismatic, if cryptic, lawyer Bryce Covington, and drawn into his community at the Church of the Life, led by the reverend and his wife, whom Bryce considers his parents, and eventually into the mystical Gathering, in which chosen members commune with God. But after they marry, Bryce's controlling jealousy and the church's attitudes on wifely behavior isolate Julia from work, friends, family, and medical help for the injuries Bryce causes her, while Julia's secret delving into Bryce's history reveals his dark and violent past. Tense snippets of story that share bits of Bryce's childhood or telegraph Julia's final acts aren't enough to build complexity, and Olsen's depiction of Julia's mental state rarely evokes the depth of conflicted feelings or fear that would make the novel affecting.