Title: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from the national bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica
She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…
Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.
Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.
Don’t miss this thrilling follow-up to The Good Girl by master of suspense, Mary Kubica.
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica is a very clever and intriguing mystery. Full of suspense and drama, an act of kindness takes several unexpected turns that make this compelling novel very hard to put down.
Heidi Wood is a giving and caring married mother whose altruistic nature is her best and sometimes, worst, trait. Her husband Chris is used to her unilateral approach to decision making but even he is stunned when she returns home one morning with a homeless teen and her baby. His questions about how long the pair are going to stay with the family remain unanswered and when he returns from a business trip, he is absolutely horrified by the changes that have occurred in his absence.
Heidi is a bit off balance when she first crosses path with Willow and her baby, Ruby. Chris is frequently out of town for business and she is less than pleased that his beautiful, sexy co-worker often accompanies him on these trips. Her once close relationship with daughter Zoe has become tense and she is at a loss as to how to handle her now Zoe is entering her teen years. Years earlier, Heidi suffered two defining and life altering losses and although hit hard by these events, she appears to have fully recovered in the intervening years. However once she brings Willow and Ruby into the home, she is haunted by memories of what happened and the choices she made.
Chris is often distracted by work and while he still loves Heidi, he feels a little neglected as she pours her heart and soul into her job. He is also a bit resentful of how she makes decisions without consulting him and he is rightfully concerned about her bringing Willow and Ruby into their home. Chris wants answers that Willow is unwilling to provide and he takes steps to learn exactly what she is hiding.
Willow is shrouded in mystery and she is very hesitant to divulge anything about herself or her baby. She is clearly uncomfortable with some aspects of motherhood and Heidi is very concerned about Ruby’s welfare. Despite her current situation, Willow is very sympathetic and as more information about her traumatic and tragic past are revealed, it is easy to understand the reasons for her actions. Could Willow have done things differently? Absolutely. But once her age and her circumstances are taken into consideration, her decisions are reasonable, albeit misguided.
While always interesting, the first half of the novel is rather slow paced. The story is written in alternating points of views with Chris and Heidi’s chapters taking place in the present and following the events as they unfold. In sharp contrast, Willow’s chapters take place in after everything has occurred, but they give away few details about what actually transpired while she was with Heidi and Chris. It is through these chapters that the shocking truth about her tragic past is fully revealed.
Riveting and complex with a strong psychological aspect, Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica is a well-written, character driven novel. While not a traditional mystery, there is a great deal of suspense surrounding Willow’s identity and what happens after she enters Heidi’s home. Although the reader is eventually able to see where the story is going, the conclusion is still quite shocking and completely unexpected.