Friday, January 9, 2015

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

From the internationally bestselling autho of Beautiful Malice comes a captivating novel of psychological suspense about love and friendship, loyalty and betrayal—perfect for readers of S. J. Watson and Lisa Unger.
Tim Ellison feels lucky when he finds a cheap place to rent in his dream location, close to the restaurant where he works as a chef, and even closer to his favorite surf spot at Sydney’s popular Manly Beach. But the cavernous house is infused with a sense of foreboding, and his furnished room there comes with a condition: He must look after the mansion’s mysterious owner.
Anna London is withdrawn and frail, a twenty-year-old with the inexplicable demeanor and habits of an elderly woman. From her grand home on the hill, she can see the city and the ocean, but she can never leave. Her anxieties keep her locked inside, unable to face the outside world.
As Tim settles in, he struggles to get to know the person who depends on him for food and care. Slowly, Anna reveals glimpses of herself—her history, her sadness, her crippling fears. And then strange things begin to happen: loud banging in the night, unexplained figures in the shadows, sinister messages on the walls. Tim is startled to find that even as his unease about the house grows, he is increasingly attracted to its hauntingly beautiful owner. But is Anna London someone to pity, someone to love, or someone to fear?
Taut and intense, Sweet Damage is an addictive novel about vulnerability, obsession, and duplicity, with a modern Gothic twist.

Opening Sentences: I still dream about Fairview. In my dreams the house is more than it was in life: the building taller and more imposing, the hallways longer and more labyrinthine, the inside colder and darker than the real thing ever was. In my dreams Fairview is a maze of dark passages and shadows, steep staircasews that twist and turn in nightmarish knots. 

Tim Ellison has yet to decide what to do with his life. He works at his father's restaurant and spends his free time surfing. His only real desire is to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Lilla, who has kicked him out of her apartment. Lilla finds him an incredibly wonderful place to rent. He is to be a roommate to a young woman named Anna London and share living quarters in her large mansion called Fairview. But not all is as it seems. First, Anne is an agoraphobic introvert and there are many secrets within the walls of the lush mansion. Strange events happen. Anna has some very odd friendships, especially with the two young lawyers she is close to. Later by layer, dark ambitions and buried secrets surface, culminating in an explosive, satisfying ending.

Rebecca James' new novel, SWEET DAMAGE, certainly hits the mark as a modern day gothic mystery! The tale is revealed mostly through Tim's point of view and readers experience his confusion, his growing interest in his room mate Anna, and the slow burgeoning of his deep caring and respect for her.  The other characters in the story, Lilla, Fiona, and Marcus, keep the reader on edge - as their true motivations are cleverly disguised until the end. There is a great pace and lots of interesting plot twists to keep the reader engaged. A nice, engaging read, especially for those who love stories about old mansions and family secrets!

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