Happy Wednesday! It’s Hump Day and the perfect time to trot out a five star read. I’ve had a couple of clunkers lately, including a near DNF (in retrospect, I wish I’d followed through), so I’m happy to share a book I can recommend. Thanks to Kim of By Hook or by Book for bringing this one to my attention!
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes Reckless Girls, a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.
Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.
But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for my ARC!
Lux and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to charter Brittany and Amma, two college friends to Mereo, a deserted island for a two-week excursion. When the four arrive, they’re shocked to find a couple, Jake and Eliza, already there with a luxury catamaran.
Despite the oddity of finding others on the island, the two groups become friendly, enjoying parties on the beach, days of sunning, swimming, and exploring the surrounding jungle. Later, the arrival of another man causes cracks to form in the new and tenuous friendships. It’s obvious from the start there’s something “off” with Brittany and Amma, but as the story progresses it’s clear they’re not the only ones keeping secrets.
Timelines shift between past and present, slowly unraveling the backstories of Lux, Eliza, Brittany and Amma. The island becomes a character, at times beautiful and lush, others creepy and claustrophobic. A virtual Eden, it has a sinister past involving marooned soldiers and rumors of cannibalism. The author does an exceptional job with setting, making everything from the hot sun and warm salt water to cool jungle shadows come alive. It’s the chapters on the island that kept me the most enthralled.
I did waffle on how I felt about several of the characters due to their chameleon like personalities. And while I was able to ferret out part of the ending twist before the big reveal, I still enjoyed seeing myself proved right.
This is an entertaining read, quick and easy, perfect for beach or poolside. The ending is highly satisfying yet at the same time may leave you torn. It’s hard to say more without leading into spoiler territory, but the author definitely delivered a movie-worthy conclusion. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for review purposes.
RELEASE DATE IS JAN 4, 2022