Book Review Tuesday: The Resort by M. J. Hardy, The Safe Place by Anna Downes #psychologicalfiction #psychologicalsuspense

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Welcome to my last book review of the month. I have a number of other posts I want to share—everything from new Cabinet of Curiosities posts to writing updates—but time hasn’t been kind to me lately. I hope to be able to get back on track soon, but in the interim, I hope these reviews pique your curiosity.

Book cover shows four colorful roll suitcases sitting on dock overlooking ocean

by M.J. Hardy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a quick read (I blew through it in two sittings), and as the title suggests, great escapist fiction. Three couples, a single man, and a single woman have the seemingly good fortunate of winning all-expense paid trips to a luxury resort on a tropical island.
This is luxury with a capital “L.”

The setting is exquisite—sun-soaked accommodations, turquoise pools, white sand beaches, gourmet meals, boating excursions, and opulent spa treatments. Just reading those passages put me in a tranquil frame of mind. But there’s also a creeping, steadily building sense of what’s coming—because all this pampering and too-good-to-be-true opulence has to lead somewhere, right?

The characters are an assortment of people who either take up lodging in your heart or leave you loathing them. I wasn’t sure where the book was headed, but found the ending a surprise, and also a delight. This is a popcorn read that would make a fantastic Lifetime movie. Definitely a fun, escapist read!


Book cover shows unground swimming pool overlooking tropical ocean

by Anna Downes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Emily Proudman is a failed actress who loses her temp job and her apartment, only to have paradise fall into her lap. Her ex-boss, Scott, offers her a job as a housekeeper/companion to his wife and young daughter who live alone on an isolated French estate. Emily is flown, all expenses paid to the property, given her own car, a private house, and a credit card, but there are a few rules—the main being she is never to enter the “family house” where her boss’s wife, Nina, lives with their daughter, Aurelia.

Emily soon discovers Aurelia has a number of ailments, including sun sensitivity, and though she is capable of vocalizing (giggles, shrieks, screams), never speaks. The estate is luxurious and everything Emily hoped it would be. She enjoys plenty of poolside days sipping wine with Nina, who quickly becomes a friend. But there is something off kilter about the situation—about Nina and Scott themselves—and the more time Emily spends poking around the estate, the more she realizes Emily and Scott are hiding something. Scott is rarely there, and when he does arrive, Nina seems anxious.

While a bit slow at the beginning, the novel picks up speed once Emily arrives at the estate and is introduced to Nina and Aurelia. The setting is superb—sun-soaked, but remote. Empty rooms and an underlying odor of rot are used to create a sense of foreboding beneath the bliss.

Chapters alternate between Emily and Scott in third person POV, and an unnamed narrator in first person—though it quickly becomes apparent who that individual is. Through this narrator, the reader gradually sees the past unfold. By the time it connects with the present, the stage is set for all plot threads to tie together for the final reveal. Emily is a good protagonist, and for the most part the story is entertaining.

I was slightly disappointed by the twist—I was hoping for something less predictable—and I felt the ending could have been stronger with a tighter wrap to Emily’s story. Overall, however, I found this a diverting read and worthy of four stars.


63 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: The Resort by M. J. Hardy, The Safe Place by Anna Downes #psychologicalfiction #psychologicalsuspense

  1. Both of these sound like they could be good reads. I’m not a fan of the predictable ending, so I’d be more inclined to check out the first one.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Both sound excellent, Mae. I have to say that I wouldn’t normally pick up The Resort, but your review intrigues me. It’s sounds like it has beautiful descriptions too.

    Lovely reviews as always. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like the settings of both of these. With The Resort it’s like that old saying – if things seem too good to be true – you know. I have an idea who the first person narrator might be in The Safe Place, but I’m hoping that’s not the twist. If so, I can see how you might be disappointed. Great reviews, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Teri, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop in The Resort. When I did it was not what I expected, but I loved it.

      I hate to say anything about The Safe Place for fear of spoilers, but it’s obvious pretty quick who the first person narrator is.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you, Balroop. I am so backed up on my reading, it’s pitiful. Every time I finish a book, I have to be so selective what I choose next because there are so many waiting, clamoring for my attention. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s weird, Jacquie. I actually found the first three-fourths of The Safe Place more intriguing then the close. As for The Resort, it was .99c when I grabbed it and may still be on sale. I really loved that one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gwen, when I picked it up (not that long ago) it was on sale for .99c. I didn’t check, but it may still be on sale. Definitely worth the price. It’s a book I’d read again for sheer escapist fun!


  4. Not sure how I missed your post yesterday, but anyhow… I finished The Resort in one afternoon. Couldn’t put it down. I’ll post my review next week.

    The safe place sounds like an interesting read as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for the reviews and recommendations, Mae. Both of these reads seem to promise some soaking up of the sunshine, though The Safe Place clearly has a creepy vibe. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I just might dive into The Resort if its not too romancy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though the second one was a star lower, Robbie, it was an exceptional read. I especially loved the first three-quarters of the book. The ending would probably work for most people, I was just hoping for something slightly different. I don’t regret spending time within the pages.


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