He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You'd like to get to know Grace better.
But it's difficult, because you realise that Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn't work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?
Sometimes the perfect marriage is the perfect lie ....
Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris is due for release on 11 February 2016. Published by Mira, this is the author's debut novel.
I have to start my review with one word; Wow! Just, Wow! I picked up my copy of Behind Closed Doors and was loathe to set it aside for even one minute, sadly I have to work and reading it in one sitting wasn't possible. Even so, I raced through this at a hurtling speed, often holding my breath and on occasion, stamping my feet in frustration on behalf of the lead character. Despite this, there were a couple of moments during the book that I HAD to put it aside, the emotional impact is huge and quite consuming, I had to take a few deep breaths, potter around for a while, and then return to the story.
Behind Closed Doors is Grace's story, told in her words. We are introduced to Grace and her husband Jack as they host a dinner party for friends in their beautiful home. Jack and Grace have been married for just a year, they seem to have it all; money, good looks, the stunning house, the holidays abroad. They appear to be a loving couple, staying close to each other at all times. Jack clearly adores Grace and his friends and colleagues are pleased that he has finally found the woman of his dreams, after all, he's forty now and very successful in his career as a lawyer, specialising in representing the victims of domestic violence. Meeting Grace and marrying her, although very quickly, has made his world complete.
There is a dark undertone to Grace's words. Without actually saying anything specific, the reader is fully aware that what is seen on the outside is quite possibly concealing something very very different. Grace comes across as quite flat and expressionless, and that is not a criticism, it is proof that this author can handle dialogue and meaning very very well. You see, Grace is quite flat, her emotion and expression have been silenced so many times that she has to choose every word and every action so very carefully. Why?
The story goes back to the past, and the book continues in this way. Alternative chapters; one from the present, one from the past and all narrated by Grace. The reader learns how Grace was a hardworking food buyer for Harrods, travelling the world and very happy. Her parents were emotionally distant from her and her main concern in life was to ensure that her younger sister Millie was happy.
Millie is seventeen and lives at a residential school, she has Downs Syndrome. Grace and Millie are so very close, and due to their parents lack of interest, it is assumed that Grace will care for Millie when she leaves school. We learn how Jack came into Grace's life. Handsome, kind and caring, in no time at all he captured her heart and it was clear that he adored Millie too.
Their courtship and their wedding, and then the beginning of their married life, and for Grace, it is also the beginning of something that she really hadn't expected. As the past and present stories are told, they gradually collide and the anticipation of what may come next is incredibly tense as the pace moves, and the reader realises what may be about the happen.
B A Paris is very very gifted author, this story is incredibly well written and deals with the darkest and most evil of issues. There are times when the futility of Grace's situation made my heart thud, I could sense her panic and fear, so expertly expressed by this author.
The malevolence and venom, the out and out lunacy so carefully hidden is chilling and really very unsettling, but oh so brilliant.
I am very very impressed by Behind Closed Doors, it is clear that B A Paris is a very talented author and one to watch out for. Available for pre-order, I'd recommend you do so, now!
My thanks to Lovereading who sent my copy for review.
B A Paris is from a Franco/Irish background.
She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband.
They still live in France and have five daughters. This is her first novel.
Follow her on Twitter @BAParisAuthor