Title: Alice Close Your Eyes by Averil Dean
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, BDSM themes, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
With haunting prose and deft psychological insight, Averil Dean spins a chilling story that explores the dark corners of OBSESSION—LOVE, PAIN AND REVENGE.
Ten years ago, someone ruined Alice Croft’s life. Now she has a chance to right that wrong and she thinks she’s found the perfect man to carry out her plan.
After watching him for weeks, she breaks into Jack Calabrese’s house to collect the evidence that will confirm her hopes. When Jack comes home unexpectedly, Alice hides in the closet, fearing for her life.
But upon finding her, Jack is strangely calm, solicitous… and intrigued.
That night is the start of a dark and intense attraction, and soon Alice finds herself drawn into a labyrinth of terrifying surrender to a man who is more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. As their relationship spirals toward a breaking point, Alice starts to see just how deep Jack’s secrets run—and how deadly they could be.
Averil Dean’s debut novel, Alice Close Your Eyes, is disconcerting, dark and intense. It is also an incredibly riveting tale of two very damaged individuals, their dysfunctional and violent relationship and the secrets that haunt them. This harrowing psychological thriller is highly erotic and not for the sexually faint of heart.
Alice Croft is the novel’s narrator and while she has a compelling voice, it is difficult to like her. There is no mistaking she has had a difficult life but her decisions and judgment are questionable. The deaths of her grandmother and mother a year apart thrust her into the foster care system where she bounced from one abusive home after another. Now in her early twenties, Alice is the successful author of a popular young adult series but her need for revenge is about to take her down a dark and dangerous path.
While readers get plenty of insight into Alice and her dysfunctional past, Jack Calabrese remains an enigma. He shares bits and pieces of his violent past but there are clear signs that he has not revealed all of his secrets. At first, Jack is quite charming but he quickly becomes possessive of Alice and their relationship takes a sadistic turn. Their sex scenes are graphic with strong BDSM elements and while consensual, they are sometimes difficult to read.
Interspersed with current events are flashbacks from Alice’s childhood. Pivotal incidents provide valuable psychological insight into her character and her actions. The connection between Alice and Jack is gradually revealed but full understanding of her motivations in seeking him out are not completely clear until the tragic conclusion of Alice Close Your Eyes.
An impressive first novel by newcomer Averil Dean that I recommend to anyone who doesn’t mind gritty and realistic stories.