Book Review: Every Vow You Break – Peter Swanson

About The Book

After a whirlwind, fairytale romance, Abigail Baskin marries freshly-minted Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb.

For their honeymoon, he whisks her away to an exclusive retreat at a friend’s resort off the Maine coast on Heart Pond Island. But once there, Abigail’s perfect new life threatens to crash down around her as she recognises one of their fellow guests as the good looking, charismatic stranger who weeks earlier had seduced her at her own Bachelorette party…

My Review

Peter Swanson is one of those writers whose books I read without even glancing at the synopsis, I’ve read all of his books barring one (my TBR pile is HUGE) and so I was excited to read his latest, Every Vow You Break. It’s about Abigail who was brought up by parents who ran the local theatre in her hometown, dedicating their whole lives to plays and to the actors who starred in them. They invested everything they had in them both emotionally and financially and she spent her formative years in the theatre world. She now works for a small publisher in New York and has had some long term relationships which haven’t worked out, but when she meets Bruce, a Silicone Valley billionaire, they fall head over heels in love with one another and a whirlwind romance ensues. They get engaged, the wedding is around the corner and he pays for her and her friends to visit an exclusive resort in California for her bachelorette weekend. She has some small doubts about the marriage which she is trying to ignore but they are thrown into the spotlight when she meets a man whilst in California. They click, talking late into the night and she ends up sleeping with him. They don’t reveal their real names, he calls her Madeleine and she calls him Scottie and when she returns to New York and to Bruce, she decides to forget that her one night stand ever happened and ploughs on with the wedding plans.

That is until shortly before the wedding when she is walking to work one day and she spots Scottie in a coffee shop near her apartment. She is rattled and takes a different route home to avoid bumping into him. Later, she receives an e-mail from him and is freaked out by not only the contents – he is in love with her and wants her to call off her wedding – but by the fact he has discovered her real name and it is clear that him being in that coffee shop wasn’t just a weird coincidence. And so begins a game of cat and mouse. Bruce has arranged the honeymoon and takes Abigail to an island where they can get off the grid entirely and have their every whim catered to. It is sumptuous and extravagant with world class food and is a beautiful place to be with the man she loves. Except, Scottie is there too. Awkward.

It’s a great premise and a great hook and I was pretty invested for the first half of the novel or so. Swanson writes messy, complicated characters and Abigail is certainly that. He introduces her background, gives us context and allows us to understand her, and then pulls the rug out from under us. He is the master of this, nothing is ever quite as it seems with a Swanson book and this is no different, except, this time, it veered on the silly. There are moments of the usual Swanson brilliance, great plotting and twists you don’t see coming but I found the denouement w unrealistic. I am so disappointed to be writing this as I am such a huge fan and maybe it is just me but I was left pretty underwhelmed and feeling a little cheated.

As I say, the first half, maybe two-thirds of the book are pretty solid but the ending just wasn’t for me. The thing is, I was reading Every Vow You Break whilst women in the UK were grieving the death of a woman who was kidnapped and murdered by a police officer. It felt upsetting to be reading a book about a woman being threatened by a man when my social media and the news was full of this happening in real life. This has probably had a huge effect on how I perceived the book, and perhaps in different times I may have enjoyed it a little more.

If you haven’t read a Peter Swanson book, please do, they are exceptional thrillers and masterfully plotted, it’s just this one fell a little flat for me in the end.

Where You Can Buy It

My thanks to Faber & Faber for supplying me with a copy of the book via Netgalley.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson is out today in ebook and in hardback on 18th March.

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