The People Next Door by Tony Parsons

Thank you so much Tony for kindly getting your publicist to send me a proof! What a gripping and brilliant new book you have gifted me! So enthralling I couldn’t put it down!

Synopsis

Lana and Roman Wade have fled the city for a little corner of paradise, exchanging their flat with its unhappy memories for a small honey-coloured house among the rolling green hills of Oxfordshire. Their new home, set in a residential Close known as The Gardens, is their dream and their new neighbours are charming. 

So why is Lana feeling so uneasy?

Lana and Roman may seem like an attractive, popular couple. But they are also a couple with a secret; a secret buried in the life they have left behind, a secret they have shared with no-one. 

But their new neighbours – these charming, affluent men and women in the Gardens – have secrets of their own. Terrible secrets; unimaginable secrets that include the apparently happy family who lived – and tragically died – in Lana and Roman’s new home.

As Lana struggles to adjust to her new life in Paradise, she becomes convinced that her new neighbours are hiding something from her, something connected with the deaths of the family who lived in her house before she did, something that could put her own life in danger…

Review

Bad things can – and do – happen everywhere” 

Meet Lana and Roman. 

Desperate to start afresh, and escape their past trauma, they decide to leave the city for this gorgeous house in an idyllic Cotswolds village… too good to be true? The price certainly is! 

So what does that hide..? You might have guessed it, something quite dramatic. 

As they try to settle in and meet their new neighbours, something shifts between them. 

Who are all of those people living in The Gardens? What lies behind their friendliness and neighbourliness? What secrets does this community hold? Who can you trust?

Cleverly switching between Lana and Roman’s points of view, Tony Parsons shares with us a brilliant exploration of the human psyche in the face of tragedy. In this one entity that is the couple, even for people living under the same roof, facing the same events, their respective experiences turn out to be dramatically different. 

As much as Roman tries to fit in, going along with whatever game is being played in this street, Lana slowly descends into madness and paranoia.

Strange things keep on happening, kindness turns into control, the sense of uneasiness grows and grows. 

How does one cope when the line between right and wrong, truth and deceit, is suddenly blurred? How do you pierce behind the masks and pretenses you are faced with? Do you even try to? How far would you go for love, to fit in?

Absolutely gripping, perfectly crafted plot with unexpected twists and turns, complex characters, embedding a love story within a psychological thriller, this book is perfection!

With Love
AGJ

Out now in hardback and e-book with Century Books

About Tony Parsons

Tony Parsons is a bestselling novelist and an award winning journalist. His books have been published in over 40 languages and his multi-million selling novel, Man and Boy, won the Book of the Year prize in 2000. Most recently, he created the Max Wolfe crime series. Tony lives in London with his family.

“Her Little Secret” by Julia Stone – Blog Tour

Thank you very much to the Orion Dash team for having me on this tour!

Synopsis

His therapist. Their love affair. Her Little Secret.

Cristina knows all about boundaries. As a therapist, it is vital that she keeps her clients at a professional distance.

Enter new client Leon: educated, charming, affluent — and newly bereaved, following the death of his married lover, Michelle. Cristina soon learns that Leon has an ulterior motive for approaching her: Michelle was one of her clients, and Leon is desperate for her insights into the woman he loved.

Moved by the depth of his feelings, Cristina is drawn to help him through his grief. But as she struggles to ignore her own growing attraction to sophisticated, attentive Leon, her boundaries start to blur and then collapse, and the two embark on their own clandestine love affair.

But why does Leon switch so quickly from charm to criticism, attentiveness to distance? Can anyone truly be as perfect as he paints his beloved Michelle to have been, and what is hidden inside of her off-limits therapy file? Torn between her conscience and curiosity, Cristina is about to discover the truth is far beyond anything she could have imagined…

For fans of You, Before I Go to Sleep and Obsession, Her Little Secret is an utterly chilling new psychological thriller about obsessive love and the danger of crossing lines.

Review

The French say you can’t play chess if you are kind-hearted. Like war, you need strategy and a killer instinct to win“.

A very interesting take on psychology and therapy, bound to make you feel quite tense as you never know how far things will escalate to. 

After the death of her father, Cristina isn’t quite sure how she fits in, how to move forward. She is on and off with her ex-husband Davy, who is himself moving on. She’s still grieving and this makes her connect more deeply and differently with Leon. 

The reader really gets to delve into the characters’ psyche and witnesses the psychological shift that operates in Cristina’s head. She is desperate to appear (and be) professional after a year off, but Leon somehow manages to get her to let her guard down.

It truly was fascinating to get prime access to the “behind the scenes” and insights into a therapist brain; especially when said therapist becomes her own worst enemy. Human nature and human brains are so ambivalent. There are always many different options, different reasons hidden behind someone’s behaviour.

In this book, you are much more than a reader. You become an observer, a voyeur, it is somehow intimate. You are privy to Cristina’s internal struggles between her ethics, personal and professional, and her desire of acceptance from this man who she is falling for. 

She wants to save him as much as to be loved by him. All along Leon slowly weaves this web, demonstrating strange behaviour that you can’t help but try and analyse with her. 

The more Leon drags her into this bizarre menage a 3 with his late lover Michelle, against whom Cristina cannot help but compare herself to, the more boundaries are slipping away, the lies are increasing, and the insecurities intensify.

Will Cristina let herself get tangled in all of it? What are Leon’s real intentions? Will she throw away her whole life, friends, career for him? What are their respective secrets?

Get a copy today to find out!

With Love
AGJ

Out now in e-format and paperback with Orion Dash.

About the Author – Julia Stone

Julia Stone is a psychologist, trainer, coach, and psychotherapist. She attended Faber Academy in 2017 and in 2018 won The Blue Pencil First Novel award. Julia has a background in psychology and psychotherapy and has a passion for writing and the arts.  She was born in London and has lived east, north and west but never made it south of the river. Several years ago she moved to the countryside and now lives in rural Suffolk with her partner and varying numbers of ducks, muntjac and moorhens.

Don’t forget to check out what my fellow bloggers are saying!

Bonus Content: The Inspiration for Her Little Secret by Julia Stone

This morning my Twitter followers expanded by one, with the addition of a famous international actor. Of course, I politely followed back – having first checked his profile. He has the photo, the banner header, the many images from his films, and the requisite thousands of followers. It appears to be him. But that begs two questions: how could I ever be sure that this person is who they say they are? And, if he is Mr Megastar, then why on earth would he be following me?

These questions relate to the original inspiration behind Her Little Secret. What if a client presents a story which isn’t true? In my work with couples I sometimes hear two completely different versions of events. Like a mirror image. She paints him as a miser. He describes her as wasting their savings. Both believe their interpretation is ‘the truth’. But how would I know if one of them was lying to me?

How would you know if a stranger is lying to you from the start? TV detective programmes suggest there are visual ‘tells’, a scratch of the nose, eye contact maintained too long. Stories which are too detailed, too consistent. But these are amateurs’ mistakes, a practised liar knows how to lie.

Cristina, the therapist in Her Little Secret, observes: ‘Unlike prospective employers, it would be frowned on for a therapist to search social media for background information, check out websites or scour LinkedIn CVs… All we have to work on is what the client choses to share with us.’ Cristina doesn’t get to meet her client’s friends and family, she doesn’t see them at work or at home in the evenings. All she knows is what she sees, hears and feels in the therapy sessions. 

But what if someone came for therapy and didn’t tell the truth? What possible reason could they have…?  These were the questions that got me thinking.

As a therapist, Cristina has been trusted with a lot of secrets. Leon is being selective with the truth because he wants something – something only Cristina can tell him. The story idea blossomed from there.

What does she know that he wants to find out? 

What drives his desperation? And how far will he go to get what he wants? 

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