Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat. A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world, but after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before--until she meets Kate Randolph. Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart.
Robyn Harding is the bestselling author of several books and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her family and two cute but deadly rescue chihuahuas.
Frances carries a lot of repressed burdens on her shoulders, which has manifested into comfort eating and weight gain. Her son has also faced a few serious challenges, but is now attending the prestigious Forrester Academy. Frances had hoped his acceptance into the school would change things for her family, but neither she, nor her son, has been well received by the other moms.
The only bright spot in Frances’s life is her friendship with Kate. Kate could quite easily fit in with the other mothers at the school, but instead she’s shunned them in favor of befriending Frances.
The two women forge a bond over their children, while refusing to conform to the Forrester Academy elitism. However, a stunning discovery could damage their relationship forever….
This is another book I pulled from the middle of my mountainous TBR pile. I’d seen mostly positive reviews for this one, but I believe it might have been one of the last psychological or ‘Domestic’ thrillers I added before making a conscious decision to take an extended break from books in this category.
Now, I’m having fun going back and plucking out a handful of the better sounding books in those categories and mixing them into my current reading schedule.
While somewhat understated, the story is told through various narratives and perspectives, while examining several intriguing themes and viewpoints. While certainly absorbing, the suspense is far from gripping, as the mystery is not much of a mystery.
Although I quickly ascertained the lay of the land, it didn't lessen the impact of the alarming set of circumstances that began to emerge as the story developed. I was left with a definite feeling of unease, despite the more positive progress made by many of the characters in the book.
The story does lack something I can’t quite articulate, but it had more substance and depth, and was more thought provoking, than I had anticipated.
Overall, a solid psychological/ domestic thriller that is a cut above for this category.
Stay at home mother, Frances is attending a costume party… and she’s not happy about it. It’s a fundraiser for her son, Marcus’s school and it’s mandatory that parents attend. She would rather be doing anything else. The fact that it’s a costume party just makes everything worse. She’s dressed as Cyndi Lauper but feels she looks more like “a cross between a deranged clown and a heavyset bag lady”. She’s sweating and feeling anxious. She’s suffered from social anxiety for many years.
“When one’s past was something to be hidden and guarded, mingling and making idle chitchat became daunting.”
Just as Frances thinks she can’t take anymore, she hears a voice that instantly makes her feel better. Her only friend and ally at the school, Kate Randolph. When Marcus was accepted into Forrester Academy, Frances thought she might finally have a bit of free time on her hands. However, right from the start, her son has trouble fitting in…especially after an “episode” with a classmate. Since then everyone has shunned the Metcalfe’s, except Kate Rudolph. The two women bond over their mutual disdain for the other mothers whose children attend Forrester Academy.
While Frances in insecure, Kate is the exact opposite and she even stands up for Frances. Kate has a son, Charles the same age as Marcus and the two boys hit it off. Kate also has a teenage daughter, Daisy who is fourteen. Frances does notice that Kate doesn’t seem to spend much time with or worrying about, Daisy. Still, Frances is shocked that Kate wants to be her friend.
We hear from Kate’s daughter, Daisy. Daisy is having trouble at school. It’s always hard for her fitting in as her family moves every few years so she’s always the new girl. Now a rumor has gotten out of hand and Daisy is really struggling. She doesn't feel like her parents care about her so she won't go to them for advice or support.
We are given little tidbits into Frances childhood and the “heinous” act she committed in her youth.
Kate is confident, wealthy, beautiful, and powerful. In Frances' eyes, Kate is perfect. But just like Frances, Kate has secrets ……
But one woman’s secrets are a whole lot darker…
“Her Pretty Face” was a very thought-provoking read. Can people really change? Can the past be forgiven…or are some things just too horrific to ever be forgiven?
I thought the multiple story-lines in this novel were interesting and they all came together well. One of the story-lines reminded me of a very famous criminal case in Canada. Overall, I thought this was an intriguing and addictive domestic drama that was hard to put down. I look forward to seeing what Robyn Harding writes next.
I'd like to thank Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
👩🏻 Her Pretty Face is a suspenseful domestic thriller! 👭
The story is told via 3 multiple, ambiguous story lines - Frances, Daisy & DJ. Frances Metcalfe is an outsider in the private school world of "perfect" moms. Enter Kate Randolph who is beautiful, funny, chic and the kind of woman all the moms want to be friends with. Surprisingly, Kate snubs the elite moms and befriends Frances. The women forge an immediate friendship. Too good to be true, right? Of course it is! Both women are hiding secrets about their past and one of them is a murdering sociopath.
"She's a master manipulator. A psychopath. She enjoyed playing with people, she gets off on it."
I'll be honest - there was no big reveal for me. I pretty much had the story figured out early on and I knew who "Amber" was. I found the story entertaining and it was a quick read but I was expecting more twists & turns. I enjoyed the premise and the 3 separate storylines. I felt for Frances and was touched by her backstory. Yet for me, the story was missing something. I actually wish we had more from "Amber's" point of view. It would have been interesting to get a peek into her sinister mind. I know not having her perspective made things ambiguous which was the goal. We are left to ponder if people can really change. If they should be forgiven for the wrongs they have committed and paid for. Yet, for me it was pretty clear that "Amber" was a sociopath.
Thanks to NetGalley, Robyn Harding and Gallery/Scout Press for my early copy. All opinions are my own.
Frances doesn't fit in at the Forrester School of Jerks. However, she'll put up with anything for her son. And if that means putting up with the Forrester mean mommies.. so be it. Frances is floundering, doing her best to avoid any communication or confrontation with the perfect mommies - especially after her son urinated into a fellow classmates water bottle (yikes). Everything for Frances is going wrong, that is, until she meets Kate. Kate is perfect in every way. Maybe..too perfect. What is Kate hiding beneath that flawless exterior? Behind Her Pretty Face?
Ever since I read The Party I knew I was a Harding fan. She has an eerie way of tapping into the mind and creating palpable tension. With that being said, I wasn't as much of a fan of Her Pretty Face. I didn't really "feel" the story line. I didn't get a taste of Harding's signature tension that I crave. It didn't make my heart race like her previous novel. While It was mindless, "popcorn munching" reading.. which is exactly what I, and everyone else needs at one time or another, it also left me feeling like "ugh, maybe I had too much popcorn." Completely unfulfilled.
Will I read whatever Harding rights next? Absolutely! Am I recommending this? I can't give that a firm yes or no. My advice.. check it out from the library.
Is it possible I'm burned out on domestic thrillers? No way, no how.
HOWEVER my expectations are through the roof now, people. This genre is absolutely flooded with new books and new authors and it is getting tougher to impress me, surprise me, or scare me. I'm cracking down on the books that don't make the cut and I'm here for you so you don't waste your hard earned dollars on mediocre books.
VERDICT This isn't a terrible book, but I wouldn't hand over any moolah for it.
HER PRETTY FACE starts out with an interesting premise, a gorgeous cover and intriguing title. I found the main character, Frances Metcalfe, sympathetic and humorous. She is an outsider in the private school world of beautiful, cool moms. Frances has an equally awkward, chunky kid that she incessantly worries about not fitting in. Frances finally makes her first friend in the ultra-chic Kate Randolph and it seems now she will be accepted into the elite circle. Here's the plot: one of these two women has a dark, sordid past and one has an incredibly sad past. Ooooh. That's the mystery, folks. Which woman is which and when will she be exposed? There are some minor side story/POV's, but I didn't really care about any of them.
Typically when I read, I actually try not to figure out the reveals, because once I do- I lose all interest in the plot. SO, while trying hard not to spoil the story for myself, I still did it way early in the novel. The plot seems so transparent and superficial. The writing is quick to read, but never goes deep and it definitely was not riveting or tense. There is no mood, atmosphere or setting. That leaves a character driven novel, yes? Too bad, because the character analysis is thin to say the least.
HER PRETTY FACE hits the US shelves on July 10, 2018. Many thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Scout Press for my early copy. All opinions are my own.
Once again, Frances feels like she’s on the outside looking in. She’s enrolled her son in a private school but the two are quickly shunned following an incident between her son and another student.
Kate is acutely aware Frances and her boy are struggling and quickly befriends Frances. Their sons follow suit becoming good buddies as well.
Could it really be that easy for Frances to finally feel like she belongs? Sound too good to be true?
My fourth read by the very talented Robyn Harding. She always cleverly creates a way to draw me into her books, keeping me in the dark to the end. Can’t wait for her next release as I may only have one thriller left of hers on my shelf! No pressure Robyn… but please hurry!
I listened to the audio with multiple narrators all doing a fantastic job keeping me engaged!
4 second-guessing stars to Her Pretty Face! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I’m not second guessing giving four stars to Her Pretty Face. In fact, I’m awarding Her Pretty Face four stars for making me second guess myself throughout the entire novel. Four stars also for sleep loss because I found this book compulsively readable!
Her Pretty Face is told from three different points-of-view: Frances, a stay-at-home mom, Daisy, a teen, and DJ, a young child. Part of the fun in this book is figuring out how these voices are connected, so that’s all I’ll say about the narrators.
Frances is a stay-at-home mom who needs a friend as much as her son, Marcus, who has some behavioral difficulties. She meets Kate who is beautiful, confident, and the opposite of Frances in every way. The two build a strong friendship just as their sons eventually do.
However, one of these women is actually a murderer by a different name. That’s where my guessing game took place because it was clearly narrowed down to two choices, Frances or Kate.
I was especially drawn to Daisy as a character. Robyn Harding did an exceptional job with characterizing a relatable, vulnerable, but strong, teen girl.
I noticed in the synopsis that Her Pretty Face is referred to as a domestic drama, and I think that is suitable. It was not intended to be a psychological thriller that gives me chills or makes me check the locks on the door, and it was not a jigsaw puzzle’s worth of analysis on my part trying to figure out what happened. Instead, I second-guessed myself over and over, and more and more, I’m finding myself enjoying the simplicity in that.
Overall, I found Her Pretty Face to be well-written, original, and addictive!
Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press for the ARC. Her Pretty Face will be published on July 10, 2018.
Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding is a highly suspenseful domestic drama. The book starts off giving the details of the murder of a teen girl that took place in the past before beginning with the characters in the current timeline. The point of view changes each chapter with Frances and Daisy in the now and DJ in the past.
Frances is a housewife and mother to a son who is having some problems at his new school. A bit ostracized from the other mothers Frances is excited when another mother, Kate, helps her out with her son and the two quickly become friends. Daisy is Kate’s teenage rebellious daughter who is always a little restless and acting out as a lot of teens do. While DJ is the younger brother of the murdered teenager from the past.
Even though the story follows two timelines and three somewhat different stories going on it was still easy to follow and understand the entire read. The addictive part of the book is waiting as the author slowly unravels all of the character lives and then slowly weaves them all together right in front of your eyes while you are reading.
While this one wasn’t what I would call a super twisty read it was still one that was engaging and had a few tricks up it’s sleeve so to speak. I though that the characters in here were quite realistic feeling as we watched a friendship form, struggles with their children and Daisy acting out as most teens do. I’d definitely suggest checking this one out for anyone in the mood for a story full of suspense.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
I was fortunate to win a copy of HER PRETTY FACE by Robyn Harding, through the Goodreads Giveaway Contest. This novel is a domestic drama about two women whose deep friendship is threatened by dark, long-buried secrets. This was an amazing read and had me scatter-brained all over the place. I was left guessing from beginning to end. All I can say is WOW! This author knows how to write!
Her Pretty Face is told from three perspectives, Frances, Daisy & DJ. But how are these characters all related? It will become apparent later, but in the mean time you will be pulling your hair out trying to figure out everything. I know I was!
Frances Metcalfe is an overweight, insecure, lonely but devoted stay-at-home mom with a troubled son, Marcus, diagnosed with ADHD. Her husband Jason has a technical job. Frances suffers from social anxiety and having to attend a fundraiser of her son’s private school, Forrester Academy, was not anything she felt comfortable with. These people did not accept her, and their hostility was noticeable.
Until she meets Kate Randolph.
Kate is the complete opposite of Frances: gorgeous, wealthy, and most of all confident. And for some reason, both women are drawn together, over the love of their sons. Kate is married to Robert, a law consultant, and have a son Charles and a daughter Daisy. As Charles and Markus bond, both mothers become best friends. But a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. and she’s a murderer.
I can’t comment anymore on the plot for risk of disclosing spoilers. But This plot is brilliant! Lies, deceit, and betrayal… this book has it all. Can people ever change and can they be forgiven?
Many thanks to Robyn Harding and Gallery/Scout Press for providing me with a copy of the book. An easy 5-Star!
This is the first book I have read by this author. I was thoroughly impressed! It's not quite as dark and mysterious as some thrillers can be. I don't think that was the point of it. There is indeed some mystery to it but to me it was more than that. It was a story about two people and how the smallest silliest thing and the biggest most terrible thing can change your life forever.
First and foremost I think the premise of this book may have been loosely based on Canada's most notorious killers, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka in the early to mid 1990's. Dubbed the, "Ken and Barbie" killers. I remember that case so well. The utter panic, outrage and extreme sadness it triggered. How many still to this day remember the, "Deal with the Devil" that Karla Homolka's legal team arranged. She only received twelve years in prison for participating in such horrendous acts of crime. This book seems to examine (fictitiously) how one can continue a life after such a horrific past.
Kate and Frances are both stay-at-home mom's whose children attend the same private school. Their two sons become friends and the two women form a close friendship. They are both hiding something. At first we do not know what they are hiding. It is a slow build-up of friendship and the writing is superb. It kept me glued to the story. I could not put it down.
The story is told through three voices. Frances, Daisy, and DJ. This story really makes you question what you know, who you know...
This is a five star winner that I highly recommend!
Thank-you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me the opportunity to read this Advanced Reader Copy.
“Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as what we want to conceal.” Robin Harding’s novel, “Her Pretty Face” gives us a domestic thriller full of lies, murder and deceit. Frances is an insecure, anxiety ridden, overweight Mom to Marcus. We are introduced to Frances at a fundraiser for her son’s private school . Adults are not immune from cliques along with bullying. Just as Frances is feeling uncomfortable and anxious with the “popular” Moms who make her feel inadequate, in steps beautiful, confident and popular, Kate Randolph, to save Frances from the unkind “popular” Moms. The self-assured Kate rushes to Frances’ defense and immediately forms an unlikely bond with her. Their sons become close friends and suddenly Frances and Kate start planning more time together with spouses included as well. Everything is clicking for Frances and her family but with any thriller, things begin to unravel and cracks start to form in everyone’s perfect life. As we learn more about Frances in this domestic thriller, we learn that she has secrets from her past that she shares with no one including her husband. We also learn that the “perfect” Kate has secrets from her past that she fights to keep hidden. Two women with deep dark secrets from the past but one has a much darker secret that will dispel the phrase, “the truth shall set you free.” This book was not that edge of your seat thriller that leaves you hanging until the last page. Her Pretty Face begs us to ask questions about forgiveness and whether a person can really change or are they just wearing camouflage. I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. This did not effect my review of this book. #netgalley #herprettyface
Frances Metcalfe is battling her demons while trying to navigate the theatrics of her family dynamics. Her son is getting bullied in school and he is having difficult assimilating into the elite Forrester Academy that he was recently accepted into. Frances battles with her own acceptance as an adult and mother in the new academic setting as well. Frances is struggling with her weight and her own insecurities—the other mothers are judging her parenting and how she isn't attractive enough for her husband. Frances is dealt with another blow when her son is involved in a controversial bully retaliation at school, leaving the Metcalfe family's reputation in jeopardy. Everything changes when she meets fellow new mother to the school, Kate Rudolph. Kate is beautiful, sarcastic, confident, and everything Frances always aspired to be. The two hit it off almost instantaneously! Kate and her son have not only uplifted Frances, but her son's popularity and academic strides in school have been uplifted as well. Frances and Kate's friendship becomes a bond between two mothers; two soul mates even. As their relationship develops and strengthens, secrets between the two begin to leak out, threatening to divide the duo apart. When one of the women omits the dark and devious past involving the murder of an innocent teenager, the friendship turns sinister .
I never read Robyn Harding's blockbuster The Party, but everyone I know couldn't stop raving about it last year. I was completely enamored by the cover (yes, I'm that bitch), and knew I needed to pick it up. Deception, heart-breaking tragedy, and truly emotionally-driven content—you just can't help but become intoxicated by the characters and story arc in Her Pretty Face. This story is a light mystery and light thriller—perfect for the poolside, relaxing with a few drinks, and the desire to get out of the matrix! This will be the story that unplugs you from the rest of the world and into the world of Frances Metcalfe and Kate Rudolph. I'm telling you now, I binge-read this within 24 hours and I completely ignored everything around me until I finished. Who's the devious, betraying, psychopath? Who's the villain? Who do I trust? Well trust me when I tell you that Her Pretty Face will be one of the most perfect summer reads this year.
Thank you Gallery Books for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Her Pretty Face will be released on July 10, 2018—perfect for summer. I promise!!
I couldn’t put this book down. Another reviewer mentioned the similarities in this story to Karla Homolka and I agree. This story was very unsettling as, even though I’ve read thrillers and murder mysteries, reading one that is so similar to a true story made it more disturbing. The story was very well written and kept me on the edge of my seat but I didn’t find any of the characters really likeable - except Kate’s daughter, Daisy, I just wanted her to be ok.
Frances Metcalfe is a married, stay at home mother of an 11-year old son who is struggling socially, as is she. She’s slightly overweight and doesn’t fit in with the other mothers of the children attending her son’s private school who go out of their way to make her feel socially unacceptable. Enter Karen Randolph, a beautiful and svelte woman who has a son the same age as Frances’ and reaches out to her. They become fast friends, as do their sons, and Frances begins to feel better about herself for the first time in years. Meanwhile, Karen’s 14-year old daughter, Daisy, is virtually ignored and is engaging in risky behavior. When she reaches out to Frances, it starts the unraveling of secrets that may be the undoing of both families.
The story is told through Frances and Daisy in the present and DJ, a young boy who’s the brother of a 15-year old girl murdered years ago, in the past. It wasn’t readily apparent how he was connected to the story and that was part of the allure. The story slowly unfolds through the storytelling of each and putting together the puzzle pieces made this quite interesting. Daisy’s behavior ratcheted up the tension significantly as she had a fierce sense of self quite uncommon for her age but also a fearlessness only found in teenagers who have no sense of mortality.
I found this story fascinating and liked the slow burn for a change. I vacillated in my suppositions, changing my deductions as more information was revealed and still ended up being surprised at some of the resolutions. This is equal parts mystery, suspense and psychological drama, which made it an intriguing brew. I like the author’s style as the transitions between narratives were pretty seamless, not just a trendy literary device. The three narrators delivered strong performances and I am glad I chose audio for this book. All were really good and fit their characters well, helping to distinguish them throughout the story. I’m definitely going to read more by this author.
(I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)
After reading one of Robyn Harding's book several years ago, I placed some of her other novels on my TBR. They were next on my list for May, so I added Her Pretty Face to the queue and read it over the long weekend. It started out quite strong, generating a complex set of characters and a burning desire to know which of the two women was the murderer from the trial we read about in the first couple of chapters. Both seemed slightly off their rockers, yet when the full history came flooding out, it was a lovely surprise.
On the whole, I really enjoy Harding's writing style and ability to craft a strong suspense thriller. I felt parts of it fell apart at times, not incredibly, but enough that I thought... this seems a bit too easy. There weren't a ton of characters, so you knew the ones who had to be connected. I wanted some additional strange relationships to pop up, and one did, which helped add to the momentum. By the time I sorted out the names/initials and the past versus the present, it was a moderate shocker... one that kept me entertained.
The book takes you a wild ride to determine what happened in the two decades between the murder trial and current day. Could one of these women really be a psycho rapist and killer, or was she misunderstood and hiding the truth? I found myself intrigued, but I definitely leaned more toward the protagonist, Frances. She had troubles, but we heard her voice most often, so I cared less about Kate. If you read between the lines, you can see that people don't change significantly... although forgiveness and prison do make a dent in turning someone's personality around enough that they can function in society without their secrets potentially being discovered.
Much of the plot leaves me wondering about a few moments in history, and without the dual POV, it's hard to know what the other was thinking. In some ways, this was good because it amped up the thriller aspects. In other ways, I felt as if I missed a vital piece of the puzzle. Nonetheless, I devoured the book and kept trying to slow myself down so I would enjoy the narrative and dialog... not rush thru to find out the truth. Anyone else have to control their reading speed to not jump forward even when you're enjoying the story? I've marked another of the author's books in my July queue, so by fall, I'll be fully caught up and waiting for the next release. Good one to keep in the rotations.
This book was a quick read, but it was also predictable. I read The Arrangement last month, which I also gave 3 stars too, but I had higher hopes for this book because I saw it compared to Big Little Lies. While I understand the comparison (it’s a lot of privileged private school moms flashing their money) I don’t think this book is nearly on the same level as Big Little Lies.
This story kind of reminded me of Big Little Lies meets A Simple Favor. I kept picturing Frances as the Anna Kendrick character and Kate as the Blake Lively character. From the beginning there is something so mysterious about Kate’s character and her past, and both women have secrets they are hiding. I love the fact that we are getting two timelines happening in this book, one taking place in the 90’s when a teenage girl went missing and was killed and then the present day chapters with Frances and Kate, and trying to figure out how they are connected.
Unfortunately, I felt like this story was really predictable. There wasn’t a single plot twist that I didn’t see coming. But regardless, I was still invested in the story and I finished this book within twenty four hours. But this is definitely a slow burn thriller that is more mystery than thriller, which I personally don’t mind. I loved the intense friendship that forms between Kate and Frances, and I love all the seemingly random POV’s we get: Frances, Kate’s daughter Daisy and this kid DJ from the last who’s older sister was killed.
I think this is a decent thriller for someone who is new to the genre but for someone who reads thrillers often, you’ll probably see all the plot twists coming. However, I just really enjoy Robyn Harding’s writing and even though I haven’t loved any of her books, I’m still willing to give her other books a chance because her writing is very compelling and easy to read.
Thank you to Gallery Books for the sending me an advanced copy of Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding. First of all, can we talk about this cover?! Amazing! This was a very fast read for me. The story is told in three different POVs with short chapters which is always nice! Most of the chapters are in present time but we also have flashbacks.
Frances Metcalfe is a wife and a protective mother. Her son, Marcus, has just been accepted to the private Forrester School. Her awkward son is big and is being bullied right away. Frances can feel the judgey vibes coming from “the cool moms”. She feels like an outcast until she meets Kate.
Kate is everything! She’s beautiful, skinny and has a beautiful clean house. The two woman quickly become friends. It also helps that Kate’s son becomes friends with Marcus. Kate also has a daughter named Daisy. She’s in high school and goes through all the ups and downs of a teenage girl.
The flashback chapters are mostly from DJ. We learn that his sister was murdered. Everything about the crime was gruesome. I enjoyed the whole court setting and trying to figure out who “Amber” was.
As the two women get to know each other more, dark secrets from both of their pasts are close to being revealed and it will change their lives forever.
Lies, secrets, murder, betrayal ooo so good! I give this 4.5 stars! I definitely recommend!
With friends like these, who needs enemies?!! Her Pretty Face was an immense improvement on Harding's previous novel, The Party! I could not put this book down once I got into it, which was about 20 pages in. I did a little research and made myself aware of the real life true story this book supposedly is very loosely based off of, and because of this information and knowledge it made this book all the more creepy and thoroughly satisfying! Something about the way Harding rights just makes it so easy to devour her novels, I couldn't get enough of this one! This novel had a lot of everything for me - very flushed out, likeable and even unlikable characters (I think a combination of the two is essential for a great read), drama, sex and mystery... The only thing I thought this book could have used was a little more of a climactic ending, which made this a very solid 4 star rating for me! Harding is now one of my automatic buy authors and I cannot wait for her next novel to come out! I would very enthusiastically recommend this book for anyone that likes psychological thrillers, dramas and mostly True Crime (my personal favorite)!
Frances is struggling. She feels overweight and socially inept, struggling to keep up with the beautiful, wealthy mothers at the fancy private school, Forrester Academy, that her son Marcus attends. That struggle is made even harder by an incident with Marcus and a classmate, Abbey Dumas, that sets the other moms against her. Even worse, no one knows about a horrible event in Frances' past that haunts her: not even her husband, Jason, and Marcus. But she feels rescued when she forges a friendship with a beautiful mother, Kate Randolph. She's funny, irreverent, and almost seems to recognize a kind of darkness in Frances. Suddenly, life at Forrester--and life in general--seems bearable. Meanwhile Kate's teenage daughter Daisy feels as if her mother has stopped loving her. Every few years her parents uproot her and younger brother to move yet again. What is the purpose of trying at school--in life--she wonders? Then a startling discovery comes to light, changing everything for Frances, Kate, and Daisy.
The format of this novel makes it an incredibly quick read: we get present-day events told by Frances and Daisy, interspersed with snippets told by a young boy named DJ, whose older sister, Courtney was murdered by a man named Shane Nelson in the 1990s. I found this to be a fascinating thriller: it keeps you wondering the entire time, with some very interesting and unexpected turns. I always appreciate a novel with some twists that I'm not expecting. I especially enjoyed how Daisy grew on me--her character was really well-done and while, at first, she seemed out of place in the story, by the end, she was my favorite, and I couldn't imagine the book without her.
In many ways this is a more character-driven book than a straight-up mystery. While, as mentioned, there's definitely some unexpected moments, there was no explosive ending, which I thought might happen for a while. In the end, though, I think that was appropriate--you become somewhat attached to these characters and Harding does a good job of bringing you into their (often twisted) worlds.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. It was compulsively readable, with some great twists and turns and interesting characters. I've had THE PARTY on my Kindle for a while--this has definitely motivated me to push it up higher in my TBR pile. 4 stars.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 07/10/2018.
⭐️4 Stars⭐️ A chilling tale involving school mums, killers and the vulnerability of children
Frances Metcalfe is a stay at home mum, her son has just started at an elite school where she feels like an outsider amongst the snobby mums whose children attend there. She is hoping Marcus will thrive there.
Eleven year old Marcus has an incident at school which is disturbing to say the least, it leaves Frances in an awkward situation with the other mums. She hasn’t made any friends yet and this is all she needs to feel like an outcast. The mothers of the other children want Marcus expelled.
Frances meets Kate one of the other mother's at the school and they form a strong friendship bond, their sons get along well together and Charles is good for Marcus.
It just happens that both women have shocking and dark secrets in their past which come undone.
A story of friendship, betrayal, murder and hiding your past. This was a page-turner for me!
Stay-at-home mom Frances doesn’t really fit in with the other Seattle private school mothers. To say her son doesn’t either is the understatement of the year. So when the fabulous Kate decides to take Frances under her wing, she’s absolutely delighted . . . . . until the past starts potentially catching up to the present and long-held secrets threaten to be revealed.
Now I’m not saying you need to have a vagina to enjoy this book, but I am saying it probably helps if you’ve been faced with this accusation before . . . . .
I requested this simply for the cover and title. I don’t think many avid readers of mystery/thrillers will be surprised by the reveals contained and there certainly were no moments like this . . . .
Good news is there weren’t a whole lot of moments like these either . . . . .
The three narrators and wibbly-wobbly timeline worked for me and even though there was not a lot of shock and awe in figuring out the goings on, I couldn’t stop turning pages. And really? Give me characters with internal dialogue like this . . . .
“She’d offered him her virginity, and he’d thrown it back in her face like . . . tickets to a Nickelback concert.”
And I’m all like . . . . .
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
I cannot say enough good things about this book! I was seriously kept guessing the ENTIRE time. Her Pretty Face is told from three perspectives, Frances, Daisy & DJ - but how they are all related will take some time to come to light. You will theorize, you will think you know, but if you are anything like me, you will be WRONG! And you will love it!
Do not miss this one when it is released on July 10 and thank me later!
Thank you to Simon & Shuster/Scout Press for an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
3.5 Stars → Awkward Frances doesn't fit in with the snobby moms of elite Forrester Academy, so she's surprised when the beautiful and perfect Kate wants to be her friend. The two women become very close. However, neither one knows that the other is harboring a dark secret, and one of them is a murderer.
HER PRETTY FACE is very much a slow-burner; there's not a big mystery to figure out or fast paced suspense. The story alternates between past and present, and between three characters' points of view: Frances, Daisy (Kate's teenage daughter), and DJ (the wild card). Can criminal sociopaths change, and if so, should they be forgiven after serving their sentences? Do they deserve anonymity, or does society have the right to know who and where they are?
The subject matter is dark and disturbing, and according to other reviewers, this book was inspired by true events. I was hoping for a stronger mystery element, though the identity of DJ revealed at the end threw me for a loop. I listened to this on audiobook, with performances by Rebekkah Ross, Cassandra Campbell, and Kirby Heyborne. I'm already a fan of Ross and Campbell, and all three voices fit well with their character.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Frances Metcalfe is a stay at home mum who is fighting to get through each day. When her son gets accepted into the elite Forrester Academy, Frances thought her life was starting to improve, but she was sadly mistaken. Being overweight and feeling lonely was only made worse when she attempted to fit into the "Forrester" world. Then went an incident happens at the school Frances gets snubbed more than ever and she feels more alone than she ever has before.
Kate Randolph is the utter opposite of Frances. She's got confidence, beauty and money, so why does she desire to be friends with Frances and not the other women in the Forrester Academy. The two women set off to form a friendship, but all is not as it seems with one of these women as one of them are not who they say they are.
Her Pretty Face was an intriguing thriller, mystery that will have you turning the pages at speed as you try and piece all the parts together. With thanks to the publishers for my uncorrected ARC proof copy to read and review. Recommended.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.
Frances Metcalfe is trying to care for her troubled son, Marcus, and maintain her marriage to her almost-perfect husband. When her son finally gets into the elite Forrester Academy, Frances sees this as a positive sign that her life is about to change. Then, when she meets the beautiful and charismatic Kate Randolph and is suddenly accepted into the social circle of the other Moms, Frances is overjoyed. Kate and Frances form a fast friendship however, one of the women holds a deep, dark secret. One of the women is Amber Kunik, an active participant in the rape and murder of a teenaged girl years ago. When the secret comes out, how far will the other go to protect her friend? Will she abandon her entirely?
In “Her Pretty Face” by Robyn Harding, it is pretty predictable right off the bat which one of the women is Amber. However, this does not make the book any less appealing. Kate and Frances are both utterly likable and completely dissimilar characters, and their friendship is a very typical one (I mean, I guess? I can count my close female friendships on less than one finger.)
The novel is well told, although it didn’t really get going until about the midway point. Most of the beginning is spent detailing the budding relationship between Frances and Kate, and telling their respective background stories. Once I got through this part of the novel, I became thoroughly entertained.
Even with the predictable ending, this novel was definitely exciting to read. This novel played out in a very similar way to the Paul Bernardo murders that occurred down in my area so I felt a personal connection to this novel too (makes sense that the author was Canadian). It helped that this novel touched a personal note, as it made the story completely relatable and the characters of Shane and Amber completely despicable.
If this novel completely surprised me, I would have given it five-stars. However, since the novel was predictable and too much time was spent focusing on the women and their “sisterhood” relationship, I downgraded it to a four. It is definitely worth a read though, especially for those who have an interest (like I do) in the inner workings of a sociopaths’ relationships.
A thought-provoking book that answers the tough questions, like whether a person who commits a violent crime can ever be reformed, or whether a psychopath can truly love her children, as well as form and maintain genuine friendships and relationships with other people. I knew going in that it was going to be fairly predictable as the back of the book clearly states that the murderer hiding in plain sight, formerly Amber Kunik, is either Frances or Kate, so you with only two people to look at it’s not hard to figure out. There were other surprises though, one in particular really threw me for a loop, so I was pretty pleased by the close of the book.
The content is an odd mix – on one hand it’s light-hearted contemporary drama with an insecure mum trying to fit in with the other bitchy, cliquely, glamorous school mum’s. There’s fundraisers and play dates, flirting with strangers, and dinner parties with recreational drugs. Then there’s the court case for a crime that is not only brutal and sickening, but also described in graphic detail. I was okay with the switch as I’m used to disturbing crime and horror with strong themes, but not sure it would work for everyone. Furthermore, the cover for the AUS/UK edition (pictured above) is rather misleading – a tube of lipstick screams fun and tame.
It’s an easy, fast read – perfect for times when you’re too busy to read a lot, for those on-the-go, and would also make a great beach read. It’s not mind blowing, nor does it have twists galore, but it is interesting and engaging enough to keep you reading.
A fantastic read, that I enjoyed immensely, and I look forward to reading Robyn Harding’s previous novel, The Party.
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Whenever I receive such a book, I feel honor bound to give it a shot. Though I tried to, and got up to page 75, I said, "Enough is enough!" I believe my friends refer to this as a DNF.
To begin with, I did not feel happy reading this. Even though the characters were described by their settings and how they reacted to them, I just could not connect to them, and I found I did not want to. It was like when I was watching the movie "Freeway" with Reese Witherspoon. Just as I got to where I could take no more and was about to turn it off, there was a twist and it turned out great. Well, that didn't happen with this book, and I decided that I wasn't going to read 300 pages of unhappiness before I maybe got to a good part. The characters were all dysfunctional in their own way. The main character, Frances, had a dark secret, of which the impression I got was homicidal. Her best friend, Kate, did provide moments of humor when she would go off on somebody, such as the botoxic bitches soccer moms, to defend Frances. But those moments were few and far between.
Probably my biggest turnoff was with the author's obsession with working the characters' sex life and desires into the story. You can do it with taste, you can do it to be outright vulgar, or do it not at all. Adding it to the story to make the people seem real did nothing for me. I don't care who comes first or what hand they wipe with, some things can be left out.
I really enjoyed this one-a solid 5 stars for me. Her Pretty Face is a mystery/thriller that centers around main characters Frances, Kate and her daughter Daisy. Newly found friends, Frances and Kate are vastly different-Frances is overweight and unsure of herself and Kate is pretty and confident. Frances and Kate both have had a major traumatic event happen in their younger years-one accidental and one sooooooo not. One of these ladies is really Amber Kunick-who participated in the torture and killing of a teenage girl. An incident that was so horrific, it made national news. Told in 3 POVs, Her Pretty Face is well-written and an addictive book. Highly recommended to mature fans of mystery/thriller books.
Well I'm a little bit mixed on this one. The framework for this story appears to be loosely based on Canada's most notorious serial killers Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. I wish the author had provided a warning that Her Pretty Face is loosely based on true events. Had I known it mirrored Homolka's crimes, I probably wouldn't have chosen to read this book in the first place. As a result, i felt like the author took advantage of a horrendous crime (that is still kind of a sensitive topic to many Canadians) and sensationalized it as thriller fiction. I'm think I would have had a much different experience reading this story if I wasn't already familiar with the Homolka case.
The other part that I had a hard time relating to was the ethical dilemma posed within the story. Essentially, this book seemed to question whether a person's past choices (that involve the murder of a child) could be forgiven with time? Are they a different person 20 years after the fact? My short answer is NO! I don't even need to give that one ounce of consideration. How could any person with a conscious find themselves in that situation??? Therefore there was no moral deliberation for me.
As for the mystery element, it seemed a little weak to me. Even not knowing the details of Homolka, there are only 2 choices of who the real psychopath is and it didn't take Sherlock Holms to figure it out right from the start.
With that said, fans of the thriller genre will probably get swept up in the prose to some degree. The writing is good and it is the type of book that keeps the reader engaged with a dose of suspense. I gave 3 stars because it is an okay read but probably forgettable for me and not much of a wow factor. A quick read that is easy to put down and pick up when you have time.
Thank you to publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Her Pretty Face is now available for purchase.
Frances and Kate seem very different, but soon became friends. Their sons go to the same private school, and neither one quite fits in with the other parents. Frances is somewhat ostracized because of her son’s behavioral problems. Kate is confident and not all that interested in blending in with the other parents. As the women’s friendship grows, one learns of the other’s secret. A disturbing secret of a past murder.
Told with alternating timelines (past and present) and three alternating points of view (Frances, Daisy, and DJ). Frances is insecure, but wants to be liked. When she meets Kate, she is happy to finally have a friend. Daisy is Kate’s lonely teenage daughter. DJ is a young child. Frances and Daisy’s timelines are present day, and DJ’s story is in the past.
Her Pretty Face is great domestic drama. It is character driven, which makes for a somewhat slower-paced read. There is intrigue and suspense with the story as well, which makes for a compelling story.