Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Unhinge (Fairfax #2) by Calia Read: ARC Review & Excerpt


In Calia Read’s electrifying and steamy novel of psychological suspense, a handsome stranger shatters a beautiful young woman’s picture-perfect vision of her past.

Hold your breath and count to ten. Soon it will be over before it ever began.

No matter how many times Victoria Donovan repeats that phrase to herself, she’s still trapped behind the walls of a mental institution. Once upon a time, her life was like a fantasy: Wes, the handsome fiancé, followed by a storybook wedding and a white picket fence. But then a picture-perfect marriage twisted into something sinister. And as Victoria’s world warped from dream to nightmare, her husband’s obsessions pushed her beyond the breaking point.

At first Fairfax Mental Health Institute seems like a safe place for Victoria to heal with her baby, Evelyn, and to hide from Wes, presumed dead by everyone except Victoria. Her husband is still alive, she has no doubt: He slips into her room at night to torment and tempt her. One smoldering kiss and she’s powerless. Of course, no one believes her about these visits. When she meets a sexy, mysterious stranger intent on helping her recall her past, Victoria isn’t sure she can trust him. But deep in her heart, she also knows that the only way out of Fairfax is to remember the way she came in.

Unhinge is intended for mature audiences.

Click to Buy the Fairfax Series on Amazon:


Review by Michelle:

From the moment I got my first glimpse of Pretend Mommy in Unravel I was instantly intrigued. Who is this woman and what traumatic past would cause her to find comfort in diligently caring for a baby doll? Once I actually had the chance to meet Victoria Donovan in Unhinge, I found that her intricate and emotional story is even more fascinating, mysterious, and utterly consuming than I ever imagined.

As with the first book, Unhinge is an experience. An experience in which questions are in abundance and the air of mystery is so thick that you can never really be sure what is real and what is not. One in which answers are oh so slowly and artfully piecemealed together to keep you enthralled and on your toes. As a lover of suspense, this book masterfully delivers. The back and forth between past and present tenses is deliciously agonizing and keeps you always on the very edge of your seat.

While the first half of the book is all about the mystery as memories gradually start to unfold, the last half was a race to the finish line as the anticipation rose to heart palpitating levels. I simply could not get enough of Victoria's story, I couldn't uncover the secrets of her past fast enough, and I couldn't possibly wait another minute to find out what would happen next.

Light and beautifully buoyant as one moment as you are overcome with love and joy, then dark and heartbreaking the next as you are filled with sadness and despair, Read has a wonderful way with words with vivid imagery that transcends the page and feelings that wrap around you and make you feel as if they are your very own. You are sure feel each and every high and low of this story while you beam and ache and revel in the brilliantly flowing and descriptive prose.

I'm a huge fan of evil geniuses. You know, those authors who sit back rubbing their palms together with a sadistic grin on their face as a mind blowing plot twist comes together, at least that's how I envision it anyway. Calia Read's twists have shocked me not once, but twice, and all within the span of one series, leaving me reeling and in awe of this delightfully devious and cunning author.

Whether you have read the first book or just the synopsis, you have to have known going in that Victoria's story would be a difficult one. I was surprised to find it was even more heartbreaking and dramatic than I anticipated. Not only is Victoria's past distressing, but when the memories return and the truth about Evelyn is finally discovered, an enormous tidal wave of empathy washes over you and suddenly Pretend Mommy is surprisingly easy to relate to and doesn't seem quite so crazy after all.

Unhinge is a moving and gripping thriller that keeps you guessing and second guessing every step of the way all while furiously flipping pages. I'm a little scared to get started on my next book right now as I fear I am suffering from a book hangover. While I am anxiously awaiting Lachlan's book, I certainly hope this is not the last Fairfax patient that we have the opportunity to meet.

*complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

About the Author:

Calia lives in Indiana with her husband and their four kids.

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April 2014

Love holds so many secrets.

How it will hit.

When it will attack.

Where it will happen.

We are its playthings, walking around this world unaware that at any moment it will strike.

Don’t try to plan for it. Whether you fight or go willingly, love will wrap itself around you and when it does, you’ll never be free again.

I stared up at the fan slowly swirling above me. It was time to get ready for work. I knew that. But my mind wanted to take a trip down memory lane. I refuse to get sucked into the past and turn my head, but that’s a fool’s mistake because even though my bed was empty, I saw the image of my wife.

She was quietly sleeping. The sheets were drawn around her shoulders. The tips of her lashes brushed against her upper cheeks. One hand was draped across her forehead, the other hanging off the side of the bed.

The moment I met Victoria I should’ve known I was doomed. I should’ve paid attention. Felt the wind against my neck and the goosebumps that prickled my flesh. But I didn’t.

So I fell.

And I fell hard.

You could say our love was unreal.

Everything about Victoria was mysterious yet beguiling. Her smiles spoke of dreams, her lips the promise of something good to come. She held her secrets in one palm and her dreams in the next. And with her eyes dared me to choose one.

Ignoring them both, I went for her heart.

Then she became my wife.

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