Book Review: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

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Stranger Beach 1

Publish Date: July 23, 2019

We are only as blind as we want to be.”  — Maya Angelou

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There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aidan, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aidan for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

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This book has everything that I love in a story: a picture-perfect couple, complex backstories, a beautiful beach setting, glitz, glamour, mystery, and situations that remind us that nothing is what it seems. It defines what psychological thriller means.

Caroline Stark is hurt, angry, and seeking a revenge f%*k when she finds out that her husband Jason has a Russian girlfriend. Her payback comes in the form of Aidan, a super hot guy that Caroline meets on the beach. But, retribution comes at a cost. Sexy Aidan has more than a few screws loose and the one-night stand turns into an obsession, a la Fatal Attraction.

Thankfully, there are no rabbits boiled in this book, but there are plenty of crazy things that happen. The story is told by Caroline and Aidan and they have totally different perspectives on the same situations. It’s so inconsistent that I questioned their sanity. I have never read a book where the two character perspectives are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Everything was dissimilarWhat Caroline and Aidan think, feel, see, say, and do reflects completely differing stories which makes them both unreliable narrators. It is refreshing and unique, and I loved it.

My feelings swayed back and forth as Caroline and Aidan narrate the story. I didn’t know who to believe. What really happened? Who is being manipulated? I questioned everything, even my own judgement. I had no clue what was really going on. I gave up trying and just went along for the ride. The narration switches away from Caroline and Aidan for the last 20% of the book, and that’s when the truth started to reveal itself.

Here are my favorite quotes:

“The thing about being rich is, there’s always someone richer.”

“My interest has been piqued. My guard had been lowered. My life was not in order. The combination of these things would prove to be my downfall.”

“The people that you love most in this world are the very ones that you should never trust. They will cheat on you and use you. They will ruin you, even kill you, if they can.”

“I was keeping secrets from my husband. And I wondered what secrets he was keeping from me.”

This book is about perspective, manipulation, infidelity, greed, lies, betrayal, revenge,  class, marriage, regrets, money, temptation, and family. The differing perspectives just blew me away and gave me so many tidbits to think about. Michele Campbell is an excellent writer that weaves fascinating, magnetic, layered characters around a complex plot that keep readers riveted.

I loved It’s Always the Husband and She Was The Quiet One but this book is by far my favorite of the three. This is definitely a standout book for me, and it lingered in my mind for a long time. This story is perfect to read on the beach while sipping a cool drink and listening to the ocean. Just try to avoid striking up a conversation with attractive strangers. 😉

My rating: 5 of 5 stars 5 Stars

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley  Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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