Published by Orenda Books
ebook 15 May 2017 | paperback 15 June 2017
Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I first saw the cover (which still gives me goosebumps) and oh my this didn’t disappoint.
The prologue did its job well – its intriguing and teasing premise made me desperate to read on. When I came to the end I had to go back and read this part again, with the knowledge that I now had putting it into context.
Bo Luxton, a successful author with a happy’ish family life meets younger Alice Dark whilst teaching on a writing retreat. Having been impressed by Alice’s writing, Bo is mesmerised by Alice and the two stay in touch afterwards with Bo wanting to be a supportive mentor. However the professional interest turns personal and what follows is a story of overpowering obsession and manipulation on such a huge scale that you will be left gasping and wondering just who the hell is telling the truth.
Their two lives couldn’t be more different. Bo lives in the Lake District with her husband and two girls and has a successful career and Alice, having given up her job to write lives/exists in much reduced circumstances between her own bedsit and living with her lazy artist boyfriend Jake. Bo and Alice are both flawed and damaged people with dysfunctional backgrounds and it’s not surprising that they would be drawn to each other. Bo’s history is slowly revealed and we know from the outset that Alice has been estranged from her mother for some time. Does what happens to us in our younger years shape us for the future as adults or can we change who we become?
With the narrative from either Bo or Alice’s perspective, but sometimes overlapping so that you see the same situation from both, Sarah Stovell has written a dark and powerful psychological thriller which will send your brain into a tailspin. Long after I finished the book I’m still thinking about it and trying to process what I’ve read. If your preference is for a fast ‘thrills every minute’ read then you should be aware that this has a much slower, almost claustrophobic pace – which suits this story very well. The writing is just wonderful and the characterisation is superb – my allegiances shifting with each chapter reveal. It would be unforgiveable of me to give away any of the plot but this is one book that you will not forget in a hurry.
At the recent Orenda Roadshow in London, I bought an additional copy of the book which the author has kindly signed, to give away as part of my turn on the blog tour. If I have managed to tempt you to add this to your reading piles, then the entry details are at the end of this post.
My thanks to Karen at Orenda for the paperback copy to review and to Anne Cater for the blog tour invitation.
Follow the blog tour
About the author:
Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.
If you would like to win a new signed paperback, then please enter via the Rafflecopter box below. I want to share the book love for Exquisite and so the giveaway is open to entrants in the UK and Europe; ending at midnight on 5 June. The winner will be contacted by email and/or Twitter and asked to provide their contact details so that I can post the book to them. If no response is received within 72 hours, then an alternative winner will be selected.