Monday, October 15, 2012

REVIEW: Thought I Knew You / Kate Moretti

TITLE: Though I Knew You
AUTHOR: Kate Moretti
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (Paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Barnes & Noble (Nook e-book), Smashwords (multiple e-formats), Kobo (e-book), Sony (e-book), All Romance Ebooks (e-book)

Recommended for readers of contemporary romances looking for realistic character portrayals

Romance—Women’s Fiction

Thought I Knew You is part romance and part mystery, being about a woman whose husband, Greg, disappears and who reconnects with her childhood best friend, Drew. Although much of the story concerns Claire’s relationships with the men in her life, her story is not a typical boy-meets-girl romance.

This book is surprisingly fast-paced. I read the majority of it in one day because I simply couldn’t put it down. The “where’s Greg?” question coupled with the “will they or won’t they?” aspect of Claire’s relationship with Drew makes the story unexpectedly suspenseful.

Thought I Knew You is written in Claire’s first person perspective. A handful of flashback chapters are written in present tense, and  the rest are written in past tense.

When Claire’s husband, Greg, fails to come home from a business trip, she tries not to fear the worst. But it soon becomes clear that he’s not simply delayed or stranded—he’s missing. Claire does everything she can to help the police find him, even trekking up to Greg’s last known location in an effort to bring him home herself. By her side during this journey is her best friend, Drew, a man she’s loved platonically since childhood.

Moretti’s evocative and sympathetic writing brings Claire to life, making Thought I Knew You one of the most “real” novels I’ve ever read. Here is an ordinary woman who seems to live in the bliss of normality: a great husband, a house in the suburbs, two charming little girls, even a dog in the yard. From a distance, her life is the quintessential American Dream. And then, for no apparent reason, it shatters. Greg vanishes into thin air, leaving Claire alone to face the uncertainty that lies ahead. Much of her anguish comes from the fact that she doesn’t even know whether Greg is alive. Unlike the finality of death, a disappearance leaves the lingering possibility of return. Claire bravely tells her children that Daddy’s simply lost and can’t find his way back while wondering whether her husband abandoned her.

Claire acknowledges that her marriage seemed “off” recently, that behind the external perfection of their lives, a fundamental discontent festered. The little moments of incongruity, barely perceptible until magnified by hindsight, pricked at her relationship with Greg, each tiny stab seeming inconsequential until reflected on. Then, suddenly, the whole thing seems like a bloody mess. The arguments over nothing. The forced “date night” rituals. The inability to communicate.

Claire’s relationship with Drew is considerably more compatible. To her, Drew is a fundamental part of her life, someone she’s known forever and on whom she can rely. The thought of becoming more than friends had occurred to Claire a few times, but she’d always considered Drew to be first and foremost a best friend rather than a love interest.  As he helps her through her ordeal, she realizes that perhaps he’s just what she needs—a dependable man around whom she’s free to be herself. Yet any chance of her blossoming interest becoming more than just that seems doomed by bad timing and missed opportunities.

How can Claire kindle her feelings for Drew when the father of her children might still be out there? Would she be able to stay in an increasingly unhappy marriage for the sake of her little girls? Is she allowed to move on? Moretti describes this whirlwind of emotions in a manner that leaves the reader feeling as torn as Claire, turning Thought I Knew You into an unexpected page-turner. The desire to know how this mess of complications can work out made me unable to put the book down. And of course, there’s the mystery aspect. Through her own investigation, Claire learns things about her husband that make her wonder how well she really knew the man. The lack of answers left me echoing Claire’s friend Sarah’s sentiments as she slams a table and yells, “Where the f@*! is Greg?”

What makes Thought I Knew You so compelling is the fact that it’s about characters one can truly care about. Claire displays a realistic combination of strength and fragility, doing her best to hold together in spite of the chaos within. The little details of her everyday life—taking care of the children, the house, etc.—serves as a reminder that the world won’t stop turning even though her own life is forever changed. Drew is an easy romantic lead to root for. Loyal, friendly, and, of course, good-looking, he’s the kind of man every woman dreams of. At the same time, he’s not too perfect; he makes his share of mistakes.

Thought I Knew You is anything but a typical romance. In fact, I often forgot it was a romance while reading it, seeing it more as a story that happened to lead to a romantic entanglement. The dual suspense of “where’s Greg?” and “will Claire and Drew work?” makes this story more of a page-turner than most thrillers I’ve read. Plot-wise, it’s not all that exciting—there are no car chases or explosions or anything—but Moretti’s talent for describing internal conflict and bringing Claire to life make this the kind of book that’s easy to get lost in.

This book is impeccably edited and contains no errors as far as I could tell.

This being a romance, there are a handful of sex scenes. While descriptive, the scenes are tastefully done and fairly short.

Kate Moretti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

Disclosure: Red Adept Publishing is also the publisher of my own novel, Artificial Absolutes. I bought and read this book on my own, and the above reflects only my honest opinion.