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Center of Gravity

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,190 ratings  ·  250 reviews
The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Thomas Nelson (first published July 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,190 ratings  ·  250 reviews

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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I guess it's fitting that this book is my 1000th review here on Goodreads. It's a personal one so if you don't like that kind of thing don't read my review. I'm not attention whoring on it. This review is for me. I thought I had no triggers when reading, this book proved to me that I'm wrong.

Ava is married to Mitchell Carson. We see that he is a bit controlling over her when the book begins. She has a new baby (Sam) and has recently adopted Jack who is from a previous marriage of Mitchell's. Sh
Jennifer Masterson
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars! "Center of Gravity" is a high-octane drama/mystery/psychological thriller! The book grips the reader quite early and then takes off. It is an emotional roller coaster and I found myself tearing up several times!

Ava seems to have the perfect life. She is married to a very handsome man, Mitchell, lives in a beautiful home and has 2 wonderful children (Sam, her 1 year old and Jack her 8 year old stepson that she has since adopted). Tiny cracks begin to show in her marriage and then one
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill was an entertaining read with likable and dis-likable characters and a plot that is fast paced and entertaining.

Do you really know to whom you are married !

Ava Carson thinks she is happily married with a loving family and an attentive husband until suddenly his attentions become overbearing and lead down a road she had never expected to travel.

This is one of those page turners that you just want someone to get their come comeuppance and the sooner the better.
Diane S ☔
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I think this book read itself, I was turning the pages so quickly. Every Mother's fear and every women's nightmare is encompassed here. I don't think I ever wanted for a bad guy to get his, nor have hated a character more than Mitchell. Told in alternating chapters by Ava, Mitchell, Jack, the children's court appointed moderator and Ava'a lawyer, we hear all sides of this chilling story.

I loved the character of Laura, the way she took care of her children, the games she played and how she wanted

Ava Carson had the family life she had always dreamed of – a devoted husband in Mitchell, along with his gorgeous eight year old son Jack whom she had recently adopted, and their newborn Sam – her life was complete; her happiness great. But slowly cracks began to appear – Mitchell became very unpredictable; his temper would flare at the slightest word. She spoke to him about returning to work; she loved her job at Jack’s school and had taken leave to have Sam. But Mitchell wouldn’t hear of
reading is my hustle
Predictable but compelling story about a controlling man who will stop at nothing to discredit his wife and take her children. Ugh. This is such a familiar story- a perfect marriage starts to disintegrate as the husband becomes controlling, manipulative, and abusive. The kids are caught in the middle, the courts are in favor of the "upstanding citizen." You've read about and seen this played out a million times on TV and in the newspapers. It is maddening. Laura McNeill manages to tell this stor ...more
Jul 17, 2015 marked it as dnf-lost-interest  ·  review of another edition
DNF @ 30% = No Rating

There is nothing wrong with this book whatsoever. I DNF'd only because it felt too real. I personally can't stomach contemporary stories about domestic aggression, even when it's primarily the hands-off type featured in this novel (at least it was hands off during the first 30%).

The husband in Center of Gravity uses all of his very impressive resources (even the children) to threaten, isolate, and spread lies about the wife. The stress I was feeling during my short-lived re
Dana ****Reads Alot****
Ava thought she had the perfect life, the perfect marriage till it all crashed down on her.Ava was unaware of her husband's dark secrets and I think she was in denial about their life together.She made excuses for his jealousy and control habits and blamed herself for not being a good wife.Her love for her children Jack from a previous marriage of Mitchell's whose wife has died..and their child together sam. She couldn't of been a more devoted mother.

Like overnight Mitchell turned into this man
Claire - The Coffeeholic Bookworm
This had been a really gripping tale about a mad kind of love, the kind of madness that will bring you to the edge of your insanity. Mitchell and his twisted lies, his sick sense of love, his superior regards to himself and abominable attitude towards others.

I feel so bad for Ava, for feeling so much pain. She thought she found the man for her. Only to realize in the end that everything about Mitchell was a lie. She endured a lot of pain, she lost her own self-respect and even almost lost her so
Erin (from Long Island, NY)
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounded up! Wow, sometimes a great 1 just sneaks up on you! I was in a bit of a slump.. Even searching out 5 star reviews & popular authors just to try to improve my odds a bit. I was just having the worst luck! Then i stumble on this 1 at the library- & genuinely enjoyed every minute! The husband was truly awful.. But smart & unpredictable. & i really enjoyed Ava. It was refreshing to empathize with this woman who through absolutely no fault of her own, was just dealt a bad deck. But! She w ...more
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This is a debut novel, believe it or not.
If this author writes her first book like this, so captivating, so powerful, so heart grippingly awesome, I just hope she lives up to this in her subsequent books as I will be following her around. I kid you not!

This is a Mothers nightmare.

There are five main characters in this read. Yes five. And each one tells a tale.

A picture perfect family is all that Ava ever wanted. She failed her mother. She could never live up to her expectations, so surely, she
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Thomas Nelson-Fiction and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Top 50 Books of 2015. "2015 Best Southern Domestic Psycho-Suspense."

Laura McNeill’s CENTER OF GRAVITY is an intense suspense domestic psychological thriller—a compelling exploration inside the walls of a Southern family, for a riveting page-turner, grabbing you from page one to the end!

Set in Mobile, Alabama it would appear from the exterior, Ava and Mitchell Carson’s marriage and family u
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a creepy book! This incredibly fast-paced tale is difficult to put down, mostly because the reader gets invested in the characters and won’t want to stop until it all plays out. At first, Ava is frustrating because she’s too much of a doormat, too accommodating. As she gets more confidence, she becomes more likable.
Ava is married to handsome, successful Mitchell. His first wife died in an accident, so Ava has adopted his son Jack, whom she loves. The couple also has a 1-year-old named Sam.
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review was originally posted on Books and Ladders

This one was so good -- I am literally blown away with how good this one is. The only thing I did not like?? That I couldn't read it fast enough to satisfy my own needs.

The plot was very well developed. Some of it was a little obvious, but it still was suspenseful and original. I thought there could have been more about the past and how it coincides
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Center of Gravity is a riveting suspense thriller that easily draws the reader into Ava and Carson Mitchell's disintegrating family dynamic when jealousy, suspicions of adultery, rage, and dark secrets from the past come to the surface.

In her debut novel, author Laura McNeill weaves a compelling and powerful tale that takes the reader on one hell of a thrilling roller coaster ride as Ava and Carson's chilling story unfolds. Told in the alternating perspectives of five main characters, the reader
Philomena Callan Cheekypee
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved-it, net-galley
What happens when everything you know and believe in falls apart all around you. That's what happens to Ava. She thought she had a perfect life with her husband and sons. However her husband starts showing his true colours and shatters Ava's life. Ava knows she needs to step up and fight for her boys and her sanity. I didn't like Ava straight away. I really wanted her to have more backbone. However she changed my mind as I kept reading. Her husband Mitchell is horrid. When he showed his true col ...more
Kate Moretti
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I FINALLY got to read this book on my last vacation of the summer! It's been on my TBR forever. The plot is chilling, the characters are relatable and I couldn't stop turning pages. A realistic portrayal and life with a sociopath. Well done! Loved it! ...more
Kimberly Belle
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow ~ this book kept me turning the pages from the edge of my seat. Loved it! I can't wait for her next one. ...more
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This book had potential. The alternating points of view seem to be a popular writing format these days and it worked fairly well with this book. However, Jack is supposed to be an 8 year old and I don't know any 8 year old that would act or talk like this child. He is definitely more like a 13 year old, and most times I just considered him in my mind as a 13 year old. I also grew weary of the superhero references...did the author miss any at all?? I also felt that the change in the husband was s ...more
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri

Review: CENTER OF GRAVITY by Laura McNeill

A woman who married for love and whose entire world revolves around her one-year-old son and her adored adopted eight-year-old stepson discovers her world destroyed when her Type A husband reveals himself as someone she can't recognize. After her husband Mitchell, a college V. P., forged her resignation letter, Ava settled into life as a stay-at-home mother, building a richly hued domestic life despite the stringent budgeting imposed by her husband. But
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is such a gripping, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that is so good you will not want to put it down once you start reading. Liked the point of view format of the main characters in the book, even the creepy and evil Mitchell. Excellent writing by Laura McNeill. I highly recommend Center of Gravity!
Daphne Self
Aug 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
Center of Gravity
Laura McNeill

(Thomas Nelson [registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc] 2015)

Two verses in the Bible come to mind when I read Center of Gravity.

Philippians 4:8
"Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things."

Colossians 2:18
"Let no o
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, reviewed, gfp
4.5 Stars - It was memorable

"Center of Gravity" is the poignant and suspenseful tale from Laura McNeill.

The novel starts with very emotional scene as a distraught mother, Ava, is trying to get to her children who have been taken away from her. The narration is particularly strong as it is told in the first person, from Ava's point of view, in the present tense.

The storyline then shifts one month earlier, and this time our narrator is Jack, Ava's adopted son (see our teaser excerpt). Laura McNei
What a thrill ride!! Full review to come!

Merged review:

About the Book

The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces hers
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What would you do if you thought you had the perfect life? Two beautiful boys and a loving husband. Then your world was turned upside down. That is what happened to Ava when her husband walks out and then tricks her into letting him take the boys.

Ava had no idea what was happening. Mitchell went from being a loving attentive husband to a total stranger. He had filed for a divorce and custody of their two boys before he walked out on her. She had no idea what to do or where to turn. Her mother w
Christian Fiction Addiction
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having put her career as a school counsellor on hold to embrace a new marriage, new step-son, and a new baby, Ava couldn't be happier. Her husband Mitchell is a good provider, her stepson Jack keeps her on her toes with his frequent misadventures carrying out his superhero ambitions, and her son Sam loves nothing better than to remind her she's loved and needed. But when a hidden dark side of Mitchell emerges, Ava isn't prepared for the war he is about to unleash. As Ava loses custody of the chi ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
First off when not only getting ready to write this review but while reading Center of Gravity I had many "first off" thoughts. So many that I think the entire review could have been comprised of them.

"First off" #1: A couple of weeks ago when I listed my favorite books so far of 2015, I mentioned that 6 months and 50 something books into the year I had yet to be "wowed."
Center of Gravity took care of that. Wow.

This book gave me a whole new definition of "suspense novel."

2) When just starting th
Susan (The Book Bag)
Oh wow! I don't remember when I have had such strong feelings about the characters in a book. Center of Gravity has great characters, ones to love and to hate. I loved Jack, the very smart, very protective, 8 year old who had to grow up way too early. His mother Ava is another character I really liked, as well. She is such a loving, giving mother to her two sons and would do anything for them.

And then ... there is Mitchell. What a horrible, despicable man he is. I cannot believe the things he di
Amanda - Go Book Yourself
Thanks to smith publicity for the review copy

This was my first Laura Mc Neill book but it certainly won't be my last!

Life should be perfect for Ava. She has a husband who loves her and a stepson whom she adores. So why isn't she happy?

The problem is her husband Mitchel. Ever since the birth of her son he began to change. A nasty streak has emerged from within him.

"Monsters don't have to be green or crazy with gnashing teeth. They look like regular people. What's different - what makes them me
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*Laura McNeill also writes under the pen name "Lauren Clark" (The World Breaks Everyone" (August 2018 release, suspense)*


"A bold and poignant look into an imploding marriage, told in a chorus of assured voices. Center of Gravity is a compelling, fierce, and ultimately hopeful tale, and McNeill is a writer to watch."
- Josilyn Jackson,

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