Having been a fan of Claire Seeber for sometime now I am very excited to be kicking off The Step Mother blog tour with an exact of The Stepmother and my 5 star review.
by Claire Seeber Publication 15th July 2016 Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships. No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work. And whilst Jeanie’s stepdaughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over. But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage. Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all. After all, a fairy tale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it? ‘I loved it. From beginning to end I was so hooked on this.’ Itsy Bitsy Book Bits ‘A deliciously disturbing psychological thriller, which I guarantee once you start reading it you will find impossible to put down.’ The Book Review Cafe ‘I loved this book for so many reasons and predict it will be a big star in book world this year. If you love this genre, don’t miss this.’ Booklover Catlady
Has most of you all know i am a massive fan of Claire’s and i have been for a while but i have to say this is without a doubt Claire’s best book yet. I absolutely freaking loved it!
The story starts off with one very unique prologue starting off with the line. Once upon a time there was a king who married a lady, and so she became his queen. A crime story starting off with a fairy tale beginning who would’ve thought it. I actually found myself saying wow what a start. So then the story moves to the present where we meet Marlena in the first chapter and then Jeanie in the second chapter. Which continues throughout the story with an added chapter that takes us to the fairy tale or is it?!
Jeanie and Matthew are a strong happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships. Raising a family under one roof
Although Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.
I love how the story is written from the sisters point of view.The Step Mother is one hell of a page turner with twists and turns that you will not see coming giving me a couple of OMG moments to say the least. I was totally absorbed with the intensity of this exciting psychological thriller which had me guessing until the end.
I devoured this in one afternoon I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Claire certainly knows how to keep the reader’s attention with this extremely well crafted emotional atmospheric roller coaster of a story. Which I cannot recommend enough. This is one of the best books I have this year without a shadow of a doubt. Giving it a massive 5 stars.
Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
THE STEPMOTHER by Claire Seeber – JULY 15th 2016
Once upon a time there was a king who married a lady, and so she became his queen. Soon after their wedding the new queen gave birth to a beautiful daughter. The queen looked at her baby and saw that her hair was black as ebony, her skin as white as snow and her lips as red as the roses climbing around the window. The queen liked the pure and pristine snow best, so she named her baby Snow White.
Not long after the baby’s christening, the queen died of a mysterious ailment.
I wonder what that was.
(Though isn’t it true that some women – many women perhaps – don’t like other beautiful women – especially younger ones? Or is that a fairy tale too, probably made up by men?)
Anyway. I digress…
The king was sad and lonely on his own, as men of a certain age tend to be, and so, sometime not so long after the queen’s death, he married a most beautiful woman, who seemed quite nice. She became the new queen – and, of course, the young Snow White’s stepmother.
And we all know about stepmothers, eh?
Oh yes. We know all about them.
This is not the story, is it?
It’s not meant to be the story – for either of us.
My breath sobs out of me as I run off the train and down the platform, up the footbridge stairs, past people going calmly about their daily business: travellers who glance away like I am deranged.
I am a little deranged, in my desperation.
Down the other side, I stumble through the barriers, out into this unknown city.
Where the fuck is the taxi rank?
I bundle myself into the first yellow cab I see, praying the whole time as it drives out of the city, so slowly – torturously slowly –
and into the countryside.
Who made all this countryside? I hate the countryside.
Out across the fields, into the small town, through the orchards, up to the hill. It’s the longest drive I’ve ever been on, it seems – it goes on and on…
And all the time I’m praying this is a dream.
All the time, I can’t quite catch my breath: it stops all jagged in my throat. I can’t believe it. I can’t, I won’t, I can’t.
They still have no answers when I get there, and so I put my head back and I do something I’ve never done before. I scream to the sky, to the heavens, to the world. I have always kept it in, my fear and rage, but now I scream it out.
And it doesn’t even touch the sides; not even remotely, not even a tiny little bit.
And later, when more becomes clear, I vow to sort this whole sorry mess out – to find the truth. Oh yes, I will. They can’t hide from me, oh no.
There is nowhere for this wickedness to hide.
The old house is like a living thing. I felt it the first time I came here: as if the very cracks between the bricks were breathing quietly, as if the building were actually sentient. As I stand now before the great front door with its sturdy old locks, the keys for which I hold for the very first time, I struggle to believe it’s my home.
Grey bricked, square and squat, mullion windowed, the first parts of the house were built in Elizabethan times. It has been added to along the centuries and modernised: a new drive curving before it, wrought-iron gates to keep outsiders firmly out. But still its age seeps from the walls. Old creepers twine around the sills, climbing up the old brickwork; red and white roses round the thick wooden door. Built onto one side, a single pointed turret reaches desperately to the darkening sky, as thick cloud scuds across a shadowed new moon.
I will never forget my first sight of it. I remember most distinctly the first time I crossed the threshold, following nervously in Matthew’s wake. How in awe I was, and how my heart thumped.
Now, apparently, I am home.
Yesterday afternoon, at the estate agents squeezed between the old arcade and the chippie on the seafront corner, I detached my battered old ‘Virgo’ key ring – proudly presented to me by Frank on his tenth Christmas – and handed back the keys to 9 Marine Buildings with an almost-lump in my throat. Almost, but not quite.
Despite my nerves about what was coming next, I can’t say I was entirely sorry to say goodbye to the dingy hallway that always smelt of cat wee, despite my best attempts with air fresheners or potpourri. (Last year Frank was so desperate to mask the smell from a new girlfriend, his joss sticks almost burnt the whole place down.)
I definitely wouldn’t miss the patch of mould shaped like a polar bear above the bedroom window, or the shower that inevitably turned icy halfway through a hair wash – but for all its faults, it had been home for a long time. It was what we were used to, Frankie and I.
Sure, the second bedroom wasn’t big enough to swing a mouse. The balcony was small and never chic, despite valiant efforts with greenery and two stripy deckchairs – but just having it enabled me to sit and watch the sea, sometimes for hours that slipped by unmarked; the sea that I both feared and loved in equal measure.
But in my heart I’d left already. I closed the flat door more resolutely than I felt and knocked on Elsie’s. When she didn’t answer, I left the yucca and the peace lily on the landing, unsure if she’d gone to her niece’s – or if she found the idea of goodbye as painful as I did.
I shoved the last bits of mail in my bag – the redirection would kick in tomorrow – and closed the street door behind me for the final time.
The speed at which my life was changing felt surreal and astonishing – only this time in a good way. I just couldn’t quite believe it was true.
After I’d dropped the keys off at the estate agents, I drove towards Shoreham for my last night on the south coast. In Judy’s dingy first-floor flat we sat below a curling print of someone French’s lilies, toasting new beginnings with warm Sauvignon Blanc. It took quite a bit of ‘jokey’ sniping that wasn’t very jokey for me to gather I’d upset her. Hanging in the cramped hallway, my wedding dress had apparently become a red rag to a bull. I wished I’d left it in the car – but I’d been scared it was too tempting for local thieves.
‘Fantastic pulling grounds, weddings.’ Judy sloshed wine into her half-full glass then moved to top up mine with the end of the bottle. ‘I could be meeting my own Mr Right if you’d asked me.’
‘But there won’t be any Mr Rights there.’ I covered my glass with my hand so the dregs trickled between my fingers. Only Frankie and Marlena were coming – and the twins of course. ‘There’s no party or anything, Jude, really. It’s not like that.’
It was the truth. It was going to be tiny – and private. Just our immediate families – of which there wasn’t much, for either of us; the families that we were going to integrate, bring together, in my imagination, like the Brady Bunch – only much smaller.
‘Your prince has come then, eh? Let’s just hope he’s a bit more charming than the last one,’ Judy slurred, draining her glass too quickly. ‘Let’s hope he doesn’t sell anything to the press. Or that he hasn’t got a mad wife in the attic. God, imagine that!’
‘I don’t think it’s like that.’ My smile was becoming fixed. Matthew did have an ex-wife – that much was true – but as far as I knew, she wasn’t mad or living in the attic.
I’d been teaching Jane Eyre again for A level this term, covering for a teacher on maternity leave at a comprehensive out by Stenning, only slinking beneath the wire because my old head of department was there now and, desperate to fill the post at the last minute, took pity and hired me.
No, there were no parallels between the fiery little governess and my life. None at all.
It was definitely time to hit the saggy sofa bed before Judy got started on all men being bastards and the bottle of mouldering dessert wine she’d produced from somewhere. She didn’t need me to rub my good fortune in – or to remind her of all the trauma I’d already been through that made this new adventure all the more special and extraordinary.
And I definitely didn’t need to start thinking about what I hadn’t quite told Matthew yet. I could deal with that later.