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The Au Pair

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Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

360 pages, Paperback

First published September 12, 2018

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About the author

Emma Rous

2 books798 followers
Emma grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives near Cambridge in England with her husband and three sons, and her rescue dog and cat.

The Au Pair was her first novel, published in eleven countries in ten languages. The Perfect Guests is her second novel, out in January 2021.

You can find out more, or follow her on social media, here:

Website: emmarous.com
Facebook: EmmaRousAuthor
Instagram: emmarousauthor

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,379 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.7k followers
December 29, 2018
*3.5 stars*

The Au Pair is more than a decent read, the difference between good and great coming down to the reader’s acceptance of the serpentine ending—a la V.C. Andrews—and the author’s reliance on a particularly weak plot device.

Stylistically, Emma Rous blends contemporary fiction with domestic noir, setting her mystery at a country home. A yellow-bricked, seaside, family estate, Summerbourne's history and its inhabitants shrouded in secrets. The most jarring tale making the rounds, twins not faring well. Except for the last set that is, the summer born at Summerbourne—Seraphine and Danny.

Following the accidental death of her father, Seraphine, now twenty-five, comes across a photograph of her mother holding a baby. Having thrown herself from the cliffs behind Summerbourne the day she gave birth to Seraphine and Danny, makes her pleasant expression and the single baby she’s holding suspect. The family has never discussed that fateful day, prompting Seraphine to start asking questions.

Seraphine’s underlying feeling of not belonging ignited, she’s inspired to track down the one woman who might have answers. Laura, her older brother Edwin’s au pair, was the one to take the picture, before fleeing into the night, never to be heard from again.

The mystery unfolds with rivaling chapters, Seraphine—present day—and Laura—twenty-five years earlier, as the young au pair—taking turns at the wheel. The result, a journey that takes little effort, the pages almost turning themselves. Although, the experience isn’t without a few potholes.

Rous opts to move the plot along, on more than a few occasions, by administering her characters doses of the *oh, I remember now* serum. It's storyline development that feels lazy and uninspired. Memories resurfacing at the most convenient of times, in conjunction with the convoluted climax, knocked my overall enjoyment down a few notches.

The page-turning quality to the story isn't enough to overcome the identity crisis faced by many of the characters or the blurred familial lines the reader is left to make sense of in the end. Best described, in my mind, as confusing and overdone. But have no fear, all of that messiness is still somehow wrapped up with a neat little bow.

*Thanks to Berkley Publishing for providing a copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Holly  B .
849 reviews2,013 followers
January 7, 2019
Mystique, atmosphere, and surprising twists!

This novel was so captivating that I did not want to put it down! There is a compelling aura of mystery that hovers around the birth of the twins- Seraphine and Danny.

The twins were born at home at the family's beautiful, sprawling Norfolk estate. A photograph is taken of the parents, their older son Edwin, and their mother, Ruth. Although, she is only holding only one of  her newborn twins.  Where is the second twin? Which one is in the photograph? The novel will reveal the unpredictable answers.

The setting with the estate's beautiful gardens, the near-by beach and the menacing cliffs was atmospheric. The gardener who tells spooky tales. and a young nanny hired by the family, make this story enchanting and seductive with some gothic vibes.

The secrets come out in the second half of the story and you may be able to catch some hints to what is going on along the way.  I was flipping pages as fast as I could while more twists continued until they turned into a full blown tornado!   I thought I was ahead of the game, but OH NO, take my word for it, I was stunned.

An elegantly written suspense novel with some gothic vibes. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
814 reviews12.7k followers
November 28, 2018
3.5 stars

Twisted, compulsively readable psychological thriller that centers on deeply hidden family secrets.

25-year-old Seraphine buried her father 3 weeks ago and is struggling. While she has her twin brother, Danny, and older brother, Edwin, to offer support, she feels like an outsider in her family--she always has. Her mother committed suicide the day she and Danny were born, and now parentless, she seeks to find answers to the questions she had about her mother’s death.

As she tries to uncover what happened the day her mother died, she begins to question her own origins. There is only one person she believes has the answers she seeks: Laura, Edwin’s childhood Au Pair, Laura, who was present for her birth. She tracks down Laura, but in doing so finds herself in danger. But one begins to wonder if Seraphine really is in danger or if there is something else at play?

The narrative alternates between the past in 1991 to the present, with the events being recounted by Laura and the present by Seraphine. Seraphine made for an enthralling narrator. Many a time, I was questioning the reliability of her version of events.

I couldn’t put this book down--it takes a bit for the story to really take off, but as it became clear that there were many secrets and lies to uncover, I got sucked in! I had a theory early on about some of the mysterious secrets and I was correct...but while I figured out the who, I could never have guessed the how and the why. I love a book that keeps me guessing! I knocked this down a half a star due to the believability factor. It gets a little overly complicated and convoluted towards the end but at the same time the fascinating narrators and web of lies to expose kept me riveted. Overall I found this to be a captivating read!

I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,076 reviews59k followers
September 28, 2019
The Au Pair by Emma Rous is a 2019 Berkley Books publication.

A wickedly dark, wildly entertaining, mesmerizing tale!

Seraphine Mayes is mourning the untimely death of her father, who died in a freak accident. Staying on at her family’s summer home, she is going through her father’s things, when she finds a photo of her mother taken on the day she committed suicide by throwing herself off a cliff. But, what strikes her as odd, is that her mother had just given birth to twins- Seraphine and her brother Danny- when the photo was snapped. However, her mother is only holding one baby.

At the edge of the photo is a woman, later identified as ‘Laura’, the au pair, who had been hired to care for Seraphine’s older brother, at the time.

Why is there only one baby in the photo? Which baby is in the picture? Is it Seraphine or Danny?

With no one willing, or able, to answer her questions, Seraphine goes in search of the only other adult present that day who can provide her with answers- the Au Pair.

This is a bizarre, twisted family saga filled to the brim with secrets, misconceptions, coverups, and deceptions. The atmosphere drew me it immediately, as did the stylish blend of noir mixed with contemporary Gothic. The dual timeline is the perfect format for this type of story, with Laura narrating events from the past, and Seraphine providing the present -day narrative. The past and present slowly converges with ripples of shockwaves building to a massive eruption, leaving every single character-and the reader- shaken to the core.

There’s plenty to chew on if one wishes to delve into the psychology of the story, which is deeper than it may appear. Seraphine, especially, has specific fears which drive her to obsessively seek proof of her heritage and identity. The folklore tales of “Sprites” and the rumor of a family curse only heightens Seraphine’s paranoia. The many revelations and mind-bending twists, however, are jaw-droppingly entertaining.

This book has been compared to the V.C. Andrews’ style of shocking Gothic family theatrics by some editorial reviewers, as well as to Kate Morton, who famously combines the past with the present, and adds a Gothic flavor to her stories, as well. Initially, I scoffed at such a notion, but strange as it sounds, the two styles do complement one another. So, I’m going to concur. However, I think this book can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is historical fiction, a domestic family drama, and a suspenseful mystery. Also, if you are a fan of Gothic novels, old or new, or if you like a story with a ‘noir-ish’ atmosphere, this book is one you might want to consider.

Overall, this is my kind of book! A gripping, spellbinding tale and a very impressive debut by Emma Rous!
Profile Image for Deanna .
687 reviews12.5k followers
April 17, 2019
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

This book opens in August 2017. Seraphine's father recently passed away so she is sorting through his things. She comes across a picture of her mother, father, and older brother, Edwin. Her mother is holding a baby in the picture. The writing on the back of the picture indicates that the picture was taken the day Seraphine and her twin brother, Danny were born.

Seraphine and Danny were born surrounded by grief. There is a six-month time frame where apparently no pictures were taken of any of the Mayes family. So Seraphine is surprised that this picture exists. Her mother appears calm and happy in the picture. It’s hard to believe this picture was taken in the final hours of her mother’s life. This photo was taken the day EVERYTHING changed for the Mayes family….

“the same day Danny and I were born, our mother jumped from the cliffs behind our house and killed herself.”

Serephine wonders who her mother is holding in the picture. Is it her or Danny? Why is there only one of them in the picture? Her older brother, Edwin is as baffled as she is. But his attention is caught by another picture in Seraphine’s hands. It is a picture of Edwin as a toddler, having fun on the beach with a dark-haired teenager. He remembers her. Her name is Laura and she was his au pair. She left the day the twins were born.

Seraphine has always wanted to know why her mother committed suicide and what happened in the hours beforehand. She thinks there is only one person who can answer her questions...


Everyone tells Seraphine to let it go but she just can’t. Her family is haunted by tragedy. Their lives filled with secrets and lies. Seraphine just wants answers, but there may be people who want to keep her from finding out the truth.

Will Seraphine find the woman who can tell her what happened on that fateful day? Will searching for answers put Seraphine and others in danger?

I thought this was a great debut novel!

The characters were fascinating. The chapters alternated, telling the story from both Seraphine and Laura’s point of view, in both the past and present. Although it was a little slow at times, the plot was intriguing and kept me guessing.

The Au Pair” is a well written and entertaining novel full of surprises with an ending I didn't see coming.

I think that Emma Rous is a writer to watch. I am excited to read what she comes up with next.

I'd like to thank Berkley Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Michelle .
911 reviews1,406 followers
December 21, 2018
Seraphine Mayes recently lost her father in a tragic accident. When cleaning out his belongings from their home, Summerbourne, she finds a long lost picture she had never seen before. In it is her mother, Ruth, and her father, Domenic, holding a new born baby. It was taken the day she was born but where is her twin brother Danny? Why wouldn't all four of them be in the picture? And why did her mother throw herself off the cliffs into the sea below only hours after their birth?

Seraphine questions her older brother Edwin about the picture. He can't tell her much except that the picture was taken by his au pair, Laura, who never returned after their mothers suicide. Seraphine makes it her mission to track down Laura in hopes that she'll provide her the answers she's looking for.

The chapters alternate between Seraphine in the present and Laura in the past when she moves into Summerbourne as their new au pair.

I could not stand Seraphine. I found her completely annoying. I thought her behavior more often than not was atrocious and I found it very hard to garner any sympathy for her plight. This woman went from 0 to 60 in 1 second after finding that picture. She went from a grieving daughter to - Who am I? Who are my "REAL" parents? From here she accuses pretty much every one around her of lying to her. My urge to smack this woman grew with every turn of the page.

I found Laura's chapters much more interesting which gave me the resolve to finish this book. While it may of been interesting it quickly morphed into the ridiculous towards the end.

And what's up with that ending? The "who" and the reasoning for it (not to mention you never really do know anything for sure because the "who" never does admit to anything)~ Not impressed!

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thanks, Goodreads! 2.5 stars!
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
315 reviews2,418 followers
December 16, 2018

The Au Pair is a delicious, old-fashioned mystery complete with a gothic setting and a clever plot puzzle that just begs to be solved.

While not exactly a psychological suspense type story, I found it to be just as page-turnable as any thriller. I thought I had most of the puzzle figured out, but it is a bit complicated and I could never work out one piece of the puzzle. That piece, indeed, turned out to be the biggest reveal at the end.

If you are an Agatha Christie fan at heart, you will adore this haunting and lovingly told cozy mystery. Also, perfect for fans of Rebecca and The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

Many thanks to Netgalley for my early copy! Strictly my own opinions.
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,024 reviews15.7k followers
January 10, 2019
An exquisitely spun web of spellbinding secrets and dark deceit!

This suspenseful story Will keep you riveted from first line to last... a magical tale that will awaken your imagination and stretch your mind....Emma Rouz has woven together an enchanting story that will make the unbelievable believable....

This book is like a walk on a foggy morning... when you start out you can barely see your hand in front of your face... but as you go on the fog begins to Clear... The path is Windee with some unexpected twists and you may not end up where you originally thought you would.... but every step was SO worth the satisfying end....

A grande estate, a set of twins, a mysterious photograph, and a rumor of a curse... Seraphine has always felt as though she didn’t quite belong... so when she discovers a picture after her father passes away... A picture with only one baby...Seraphine is more convinced than ever that things are not as she’s been told her entire life.... is the baby in the picture her or her twin brother Danny? And why are both babies not in the picture? And how can her mother look so happy when merely hours later she takes her own life? So many questions and only one person who knows the answers....

This book was told from duel perspectives... Seraphine and her struggle to finding who she really is... and Laura, The au pair, in 1991 when she was working for the family taking care of Edwin the twins older brother.... both these characters were likable and sympathetic, but I have to admit Laura really stole the show for me.... A better au pair you could not ask for.... not to mention the girl was thrown into this dysfunctional family’s drama...

A captivating creepy story with a gothic vibe that will keep you glued to those pages! A dark deceptive tail that will leave your mind reeling and your heart racing! An absolute must read! Strongly recommend!

*** huge thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
828 reviews4,705 followers
January 21, 2019
Oh, what a tangled web! 🕸 3.25 convoluted, family secrets filled stars ⭐️ for The Au Pair

Within hours of her birth Seraphine Mayes' mother Ruth had thrown herself from the cliffs near their family home. 25 years later, as Seraphine mourns the death of her father she comes across a hidden, old family photo. Seraphine never had a photo with her mother but in this photo dated on the day she was born her mother sits, smiling, cradling an infant, surrounded by her older son and husband. This photo would be a welcome discovery if not for the fact that there should be two babies in the photo. Seraphine has a twin brother, Danny. So which of them is in the photo and why is one of them missing?

Seraphine's mind becomes a swell of emotions, memories and stories. Growing up there had been many rumors shared about the Summerbourne twins. That they were not really from Summerbourne, they were sprites or worse - children Ruth had stolen at the height of her madness before killing herself. Seraphine can not shake the uneasiness this photo ignites in her. She becomes obsessed with finding out what happened on the day she and Danny were born. With both her parents dead and her grandmother Vera unwilling to discuss anything about the past Seraphine is determined to track down the only other person who knows what truly happened that day - her older brother Edwin's Au Pair, Laura.

The mystery unfolds, via alternating chapters of the past detailing Laura's eleven months spent as an Au Pair with the Mayes family and the present chronicling Seraphine's journey towards discovery of the truth. It is a slow unraveling of long hidden family secrets brought to light in much too convenient ways at times. I had definite theories early on about who was responsible for certain acts in Seraphine's present as well as what went on in the past. I was correct in both cases though I did have the twin aspect figured out incorrectly.

The story gets very confusing and convoluted at the end- a bit too much for my liking. I had a hard time accepting some of the reveal but overall the story was entertaining and definitely kept me turning the pages. If you enjoy stories about family secrets, tragedy, mental instability and deception everywhere then this one is definitely for you.

Thank you Emma Rous, Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,780 reviews14.2k followers
December 22, 2018
3.5 Doesn't it just figure that after making the decision to read many less psychological thrillers next year, I would finish this year with a couple I actually liked. This one begins with a death and a picture. A picture that sends a young woman, one of a set of twins, scrambling for answers. One baby, when there should have been two.

A gothic toned storyline, a past that holds many secrets and deceptions, and a determined young woman bent on finding answers. There were so many babies in this, it made my head hurt trying to figure out whose baby belonged to whom. Where do they all belong? A young au pair that finds herself right in the middle of a drama. Folk takes about twins where one doesn't survive, because of a myth, a curse, human hand? Quite interesting trying to figure all this out before the denoument. A big bad wolf in someone else's clothes? That part I didn't figure on, but I actually did quite well with the rest of it.

The end, a little too dramatic for me, almost lost me there, but did enjoy getting there so...... Why don't authors realize that less is sometimes more and that they can leave out the kitchen sink.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,349 reviews3,005 followers
September 18, 2018
4.5 stars

Such a page turner, I ended up finishing it in a day. It's just one of those good old popcorn eating reads in which you can't wait to see how everything unfolds.

Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were only hours old when their mother committed suicide off the cliffs of the Norfolk coast. Now an adult, Seraphine is mourning the death of her father. While going through his possessions at the family estate, she uncovers a family photograph of her parents, older brother Edwin, and a baby on what looks like the day she and Danny were born. But what strikes Seraphine is odd is her mother is smiling in the photo even though in a mere matter of hours she kills herself and there is only one baby in the photograph. What does this mean and will she be able to find the answers she is looking for even though so many years have passed?

In terms of sheer entertainment, this was a 5 star read. I loved the dual timelines of the present with Seraphine and the past with the au pair, Laura. The story does become a little complicated towards the end and there were times I had to pause and get everything squared away in my head before I could continue reading. I think some valid points could be made on whether the story is realistic however this book has that weird, creepy but fun, trainwreck type vibe that whether or not it is believable doesn't really matter much to me. This is the type of book you read when you want to escape from your life and read about the crazy, messed up lives of other people. A perfect vacation read!

I received a free copy in the mail from the publisher but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.5k followers
March 13, 2019
I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars, so I'll round up.

Seraphine and Danny Mayes are twins, born at Summerbourne, their family's estate on the English coast. Not long after their birth, their troubled mother, Ruth, leapt off the cliffs and fell to her death.

And as if that tragedy wasn't enough chaos for one day, the family's young au pair, Laura, also fled Summerbourne, never to be heard from again. While the twins were raised by their father and their fiercely protective maternal grandmother, the local townspeople never ceased whispering about the events of that day, talking about family curses, sprites that steal babies, and other dark magic.

Years later, the twins' father has died in an accident and Seraphine is in mourning at Summerbourne. While going through her father's possessions, she finds a photo that intrigues her. The photo is of their parents and their older brother, Edwin, and in the photo her parents look blissfully happy. But what's mysterious about the photo is their mother is only holding one baby, and it was taken the day they were born, just before their mother's suicide.

Who is the baby in the picture, Seraphine or Danny? Why isn't the other baby in the picture? Seraphine has always felt that her grandmother treated her differently than Danny—does she know something about her parentage? What caused Laura to run away all those years ago? And why, on what seemed to be one of the happiest days of her life, would their mother commit suicide after giving birth to both of them?

With no real information except the photo she found and a copy of Laura's au pair contract, Seraphine decides to try and figure out what happened that day. She wants to determine the truth of who she is, and why everything went so awry that day. Little does she know that there's someone determined to keep those secrets secret, and the more she digs, the more she puts herself—and others in her family—in danger.

The Au Pair is full of family drama and intrigue. I just can't get enough of novels about family secrets, and you throw in a little mystery and I'm totally there. Emma Rous throws in lots of twists and turns—so many that at one point I had to re-read a section to be sure I was clear on what was happening—and while there might not be many surprises (if any), she created a compelling enough story to keep me flying through it.

The story shifts back and forth between Seraphine's attempts to figure out the secrets around the day she and Danny were born, and Laura's time as an au pair, until everything comes to a climax. If you're like me, you'll suspect practically everyone, and even wonder if there was a little of the supernatural involved as town legend would have it.

If you like your mysteries with a healthy dose of family melodrama, pick up The Au Pair . It's a fascinating read, and it feels like it would be a terrific made for television movie. Read it before it gets adapted!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/.
Profile Image for Lindsay L.
679 reviews1,323 followers
January 14, 2019
4 stars! A gripping, atmospheric and jaw-dropping read!

This novel follows the Mayes family, whose history holds many secrets. Seraphine Mayes is grieving the death of her father. While helping to clear out her father’s vast estate, she stumbles across a photograph that leads to some unrelenting questions. Seraphine knows that on the day of her and her twin brother’s birth, their mother took her own life, leaving the family in complete devastation. She has always harboured countless questions about that time, never receiving explanation from her father or grandmother. Laura, the au pair living with the Mayes family during that time, fled that same day, never to be heard from again.

I thoroughly enjoyed the unfolding of this engrossing mystery. The pace was perfect, the dual perspectives were excellent, the flow was seamless. I absolutely loved the “feel” of this story. It was a thrilling ride that had me itching to click on that 5 star rating, until the last 20% when the story lost some steam. There was too much drama at the end and I felt some storyline twists were over-the-top. I do recommend this novel as the writing, the characters and the atmosphere are all unforgettably exceptional, just be prepared for a lot happening at the conclusion.

This was a Traveling Sister read. To find this review, please visit our blog at:


Thank you to Edelweiss, Berkley and Emma Rous for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Expected Date of Publication: January 8, 2019.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,181 reviews30.5k followers
January 9, 2019
4 gothic and complex stars to The Au Pair! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Seraphine and Danny, twins, are born on the coast of Norfolk, England. Not long after their births, their mother commits suicide, and their au pair flees.

After that, the village goes wild with rumors about dark things that may have happened within the grand estate.

Seraphine is now an adult grieving the loss of her father when she finds a mysterious family photograph. The photo is from the day she was born, and in it, her mother appears happy, but she’s only holding one baby. What happened that day and where is the other baby?

The Au Pair is a solid page-turner with a gripping premise and a haunting mystery at its heart. The narrators’ voices are fascinating, and I was absolutely riveted by this story. Consumed, really! An intricate web of lies is exposed, the atmosphere is perfectly drawn, and finally, that ending: it blew my mind! Overall, The Au Pair is a remarkable literary thriller, and Emma Rous is an author I’ll be keeping on my radar.

Thanks to Berkley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews941 followers
December 20, 2018
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Yay me!

I entered the giveaway because the blurb compared it to V C. Andrews work which, we all know, is beyond compare. I know, you don't need to say it. Lesson learned.

I kept putting off reading it in favor of other books that I felt I would enjoy more. Then all of the raving reviews started coming in and I quickly moved it up my TBR list. Again, I know, you don't need to say it. Lesson learned.

As usual I am going to be the Debbie Downer with my review of this one.

It's taken me five days to get through this book. FIVE LOOOONG DAYS.

This is a domestic thriller told through two POVs, Seraphine from present time and Laura from the past. There's nothing worse with a dual POV narrative than enjoying one and equally hating the other.

The Laura chapters were by far the more interesting of the two. Her character was engaging and the story that unfolded in her chapters was fascinating and believable. Her storyline hints at a tragic past that is glaringly obvious. I'm thinking maybe her chapters only SEEMED more readable because of the complete absurdity of the alternating POV.

...and that brings us to the Seraphine chapters.

I found Seraphine, as well as all of the other players in her chapters, frustrating, tiresome and one-dimensional dolts. Seraphine's actions were so unwarranted and ludicrous. A seemingly innocuous photograph sends her off on a farcical journey to discover a truth that she had never before questioned. Nothing about this photo suggests a long covered up family secret.

The ending was so elaborate in it's attempt to be shocking that it became tangled in an almost comical way.

The estate of V.C. Andrews should send a cease and desist order to the publisher.
Profile Image for *TUDOR^QUEEN* .
461 reviews478 followers
November 25, 2018
Thank you to the publisher Berkley who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.

Summerbourne is an English country estate set against the beach and cliffs, a beloved refuge of the Summerbourne family. However, over the years it has suffered heartbreaking tragedies involving the death of a twin, and the suicide of a mother. In 1992 Ruth Mayes (Summerbourne heir) threw herself off the cliff in back of the house on the same day she gave birth to twins Seraphine and Danny. Several years earlier she had given birth to twins Edwin and Theo, but Theo died after falling from the cliff shortly after his second birthday. In fact, Summerbourne has a mystic reputation among the villagers for not letting the family keep their twins. In the years since their births, Seraphine and Danny have been nicknamed the "Summerbourne Sprites" by some of the neighbors. There was no midwife at the house when Seraphine and Danny were born. Also, Seraphine was much larger and robust than Danny, and she sported a different skin tone. As they grew their sizes became comparable, but the mystery and horror of what their mother did always left an unsettling feeling and unanswered questions.

Seraphine loves the Summerbourne estate more than her twin brother Danny and hopes that one day her grandmother Vera will leave it to her. She's still reeling from the recent accidental death of their father Dominic, who was found bloodied and fallen from a ladder by the garage. She's exploring the contents of her father's desk and finds a family photo from the day she and Danny were born. However, in the photo her mother Ruth is holding just one baby. This fact ignites the old uncertainties surrounding her birth and that of her twin brother Danny. Her mother looks serene in the photo, with no inkling that she would throw herself off the cliff just hours later. Also, Seraphine remembers that an eighteen year old au pair named Laura had worked for the Mayes that year, but left the family right after the births. Did Laura take the picture? Maybe she can provide critical insight of that momentous day in 1992, because SHE WAS THERE. To that end, a determined and driven Seraphine sets off to find the former au pair.

This is a story of a privileged family that has known tragedy and is guarding secrets. It is a slowly unraveling mystery that culminates in a riveting, yet sobering conclusion.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,285 reviews1,329 followers
August 13, 2018
A House of Mirrors......

You know the experience. Where things are completely distorted and take on highly exaggerated shapes of their own. What exactly is real and what is not?

Seraphine Mayes returns to the family estate on the coast of Norfolk. She is joined by her twin brother, Danny, and her older brother, Edwin, for their father's funeral. There was a terrible accident when Dominic fell off a ladder while repairing the garage roof.

But the Mayes family have experienced great tragedy in times past. Their mother leaped to her death from a cliff on the estate. It was the exact day that the twins were born. The three children were raised by a revolving door of nannies through the years. Their father tried his best. Their grandmother, Vera, the ruling matriarch of the family, had a say in all things.

As her brothers return to London, Seraphine finds herself going through boxes and drawers. She comes upon a photo of her father, Edwin, and her mother holding only one of the newborns. It must have been taken only hours before her mother's death. Who had taken the photo and why was there only one baby in the picture? This simple photo will be the impetus that sets this family unraveling at a frantic pitch. As Seraphine digs deeper into the past, she will come upon rumors that the little village keeps on a slow boil for years.

Emma Rous begins her story with quite the appeal. It's a debut novel. As readers, we are intrigued with the premise and find ourselves leaning into it. But as incidents begin to surface, we find that there's a sunami of threads to unpack here. The knots become more and more apparent as they tangle and fray. Because of this, there requires page after page of explanations and ironing out the wrinkles to tidy up before the final curtain. Perhaps in her next offering she won't be as tempted to take on quite so much extraneous baggage.

I received a copy of The Au Pair through Berkley Books. My thanks to them and to Emma Rous for the opportunity.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,707 reviews25k followers
March 22, 2019
Emma Rous writes an enjoyable atmospheric, gothic flavoured debut, a psychological thriller set in the stunningly beautiful Norfolk coast, where the large Mayes family estate, Summerbourne House, is located and where twins, Seraphine and Danny were born. The Mayes family has a history of tragedy, and shortly after Ruth gave birth to the twins, she proceeds to commit suicide. Amidst the locals, rumours, gossip and supernatural explanations swirl around the 'cursed' family. Seraphine is now 25, grieving over the recent death of her father, Dominic, a result of a tragic accident. She is going through things at the house, when she discovers a strange photograph, featuring her parents and her older brother, Edwin, Ruth looks happy, but is holding only one baby. Which twin is it? Where is the other baby? What on earth made her mother kill herself so soon after?

These questions pierce Seraphine to the core, part of her has felt like an outsider in the family, she wants answers to these mysteries and clarity as to what happened on the fateful day she and her twin were born. Her grandmother, Vera, is unwilling to open up about past history, and only one other person knows what happened, Laura, the au pair looking after Edwin, who disappeared at the time. However, not everyone is happy that Seraphine is digging into the past as she faces warnings and threats. In a narrative that goes back and forth in time, we are given the perspectives of Seraphine and Laura. Twins figure large in the story, Edwin's twin, Theo, died earlier, and Ruth's mother lost a twin in utero. What is skilfully revealed is that Summerbourne House harbours a troubled dysfunctional family history, with plenty of intrigue, family secrets, lies and deception, and mental health issues.

Rous's novel is an intricate construction and well plotted, with plenty of suspense and tension, as I raced to find out what happened in the past. In a story of twists and surprises, the narrative does at times boil over into over the top melodrama. I found myself more drawn into Laura's part of the story than Seraphine's, I was more captivated by her character and story. The location itself is intrinsic to the book, serving as a chilling background and framework to the family drama that unfolds. Providing you are prepared to suspend your sense of disbelief at times, this is an entertaining and immersive read, for those who enjoy a dark and gothic twisted yarn with great characterisation. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,071 reviews363 followers
November 18, 2018
The Au Pair by Emma Rous is part gothic suspense with a full measure of domestic noir!

if I were asked to choose the perfect suspense novel, it would There is absolutely nothing that I love more than dark, domestic tales of suspense and murder. The Au Pair has it all. 

Seraphine and Danny are twins who, along with their older brother, Edwin, have been raised on an old Victorian estate in Norfolk (UK.)  Their lives would appear charmed to the outside world, but there is a darkness within the family that pervades their existence. On the day that the twins were born, their mother threw herself off of a cliff. Now the siblings are attempting to cope with their father's tragic, accidental death. While going through their father's belongings, Seraphine discovers a photograph of their parents with one of the twins taken on the day they were born. Their mother looks blissfully happy. What possibly could have happened to make her kill herself and why is there only one twin? With stories of changelings, faeries and sprites haunting them all of their lives, Seraphine is determined to find answers. But will those answers be the ones she is hoping to find or will it lead to more heartbreak for this cursed family. 

Told from two points of view, Seraphine's and that of Laura, the au pair at the time of their birth, Rous weaves together a story of a wealthy family with mental instability, far too many secrets and characters who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden. The complex plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways and takes the reader on a journey from the present to the past and back again. Although I am one who does not like surprises in my noir novels, this ending will absolutely blow your mind! The resolution, however, is perfection! 

For those who love domestic drama, suspense and fast paced fiction, this is definitely a book you will want to read! Mark it now, order early, it will be published January 8th

Thanks to @BerkleyPub for my copy of this fantastic book!
Profile Image for Mackenzie - PhDiva Books.
473 reviews14.4k followers
January 8, 2019
Even deeply buried secrets have a way of coming out. It takes only a small thread of information to unravel a tightly woven web of lies. And when we find those threads, it’s pretty hard not to pull them. But what if the truth is worse than the lie? That’s always the problem with secrets… Once a secret comes to light, it can’t be reburied.

In the stunning debut novel by writer Emma Rous, an old photograph leads to the discovery of a terrible secret. With a sense of mysticism and lore, a seaside estate with a dark past, and dual timelines, The Au Pair is truly captivating. I couldn’t put it down!

See my full review on PhDiva.blog!


This book had a bit of a gothic feel mixed with domestic noir and a splash of folklore. The names of the two houses alone have an atmospheric vibe—Summerbourne and Winterbourne. Winterbourne is the much-needed escape from Summerbourne, where a darkness and loneliness seems to plague the yellow-bricked escape.

Twins never survive at Summerbourne, states an old curse. The villagers love to talk about Summerbourne because of the wealth, society, and tragedy plaguing the family homestead. Amidst whispering of changelings, babies replaced by sprites, and more sinister stories, Seraphine and her twin Danny managed to survive when their mother did not. There’s the sense that perhaps she was the sacrifice for the Summerbourne twins to finally survive.

I loved the town stories and the characters in the village. I could so vividly picture all of the settings in this book. Rous has a way with descriptive language that really builds an atmosphere to the story. I felt the swirling mist upon the cliff, and the heat of a summer day. The perfect place for a child to grow up, if it weren’t for the stories…

Seraphine was a completely fascinating character. These very differences that make Seraphine feel isolated also lead to her allure. Seraphine doesn’t think about things the way her brothers do, and that’s why she can’t drop it when she finds the photograph.

Every other chapter is narrated by the mysterious au pair, Laura back in the year before the twins were born. Laura is a bit withdrawn, but incredible as an au pair to Edwin. But as time went on, everything became twisted. Laura becomes more and more embedded in Summerbourne. Isolated from her friends and family for the year, Laura is the one who holds the secret to what happened that day…

As the clues start to be uncovered, this book is nearly impossible to set aside. I found myself thinking about the mystery while falling asleep, turning over possibilities. I completely loved the entire novel—and I loved the way it haunted my thoughts when I put it away. Rous has an incredible talent, and I’ll read anything she publishes next.

Thank you to Berkley for my copy to review
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
617 reviews20.5k followers
November 30, 2018
This was a gripping, mysterious, and captivating read. Once I started it, I could not stay away from it.

Seraphine is mourning the death of her father and looking through old pictures when she stumbles upon an odd photograph, in it her mother is posing with a baby the same day she and her twin brother were born. She asks herself why is only one baby in the picture when her mother has just given birth to twins? And she won’t stop until she finds the answer to this question.

I absolutely loved this novel. It is an entertaining tale of dark family secrets, an engaging page-turner.

The story is told in alternating timelines and takes place in a small English town. The setting was perfect for this type of mystery with all the gossip and tragic events surrounding the estate.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to readers of mysteries, thrillers, and contemporary fiction.

Received ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Profile Image for Virginie Roy.
Author 2 books624 followers
January 30, 2021
An interesting story in an atmospheric setting: a manor on the Norfolk coast, a rich family, suspicious deaths and even more suspicious characters.

I knew the plot was exactly my type so I read it despite a lot of 3* reviews from my GR friends. I'm glad I did! I appreciated the writing of Emma Rous and the dual timeline was enthralling (my favorite being the one in the past).

Now, about the ending... Let's say it was satisfying enough. I'm really difficult when it comes to endings so I never expect much. In this case, even if it wasn't jaw-dropping, the book deserves a 4.5* rating. I loved traveling to the Norfolk coast and following the nanny working for the Mayes family.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
January 12, 2019
3.5 Stars! Gripping, twisted & captivating!

THE AU PAIR by EMMA ROUS is an engaging, dark, mysterious and gothic tale of suspense that immediately piqued my interest and took me on a thrilling and bumpy roller coaster ride. I definitely found the premise of this book quite appealing and totally embraced the feel of this novel. I felt all those dips and curves while I was reading this story but then the ride took a drastic turn near the end to leave me feeling quite perplexed and spent.

EMMA ROUS delivers an atmospheric, entertaining and well-written read here with a great mystery to unravel. I absolutely loved all of the many secrets and lies that there was to uncover along the way that definitely made this quite the page-turner. Even though I thought I had some of those secrets figured out there was absolutely no way that I was ever going to guess the actual reveal of the who and why.

The story is told in dual timelines by Seraphine (love that name) in the present and by Laura, the au pair from the past. I thoroughly enjoyed both timelines and perspectives equally.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Intriguing, gloomy and a fitting representation to storyline. I actually quite like the scenic artwork to the cover.
Title: The title immediately intrigued me and definitely enticed me to read this book.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, entertaining, and engaging.
Plot: Engrossing, suspenseful, atmospheric, interesting, complex, fast-paced, and entertaining with some over-the-top elements.
Ending: Convoluted, dramatic and complicated that left me feeling a little blasé when everything was all revealed.
Overall: Even though I was a little bit disappointed in the end it was still a worthwhile, pleasurable and entertaining read and I enjoyed the ride! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Edelweiss, Berkley and Emma Rous for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a review!

Review can also be found on our book blog:

Profile Image for Oscar.
256 reviews98 followers
October 5, 2020
"My life was tied up with Summerbourne now. It was in my blood. It wasn't the sort of connection I could just walk away from."

The story is divided into two perspectives: Lauren Silveira narrates her working experience 20 years ago as the nanny or au pair for the Mayes, a rich family living in the Summerbourne house by the beach. Another is Seraphine Mayes tells us about the present and her quest in finding about the truth: Why did her mother, Ruth Mayes, jumped off the cliff merely hours only after the birth of her and her twin brother, Danny? Seraphine goes back to Summerbourne to look out the answers for her questions but something or someone does not want her there looking around.

"It's good to have you, Laura."

The Au Pair is my first read from Emma Rous and I decided to give a playsafe three stars not because it was badly written but more of I feel cheated by it. The whole book was 'okay' for me. It was a 'so-so' novel, meaning it wasn't bad but for me it wasn't that good either. I started this because I was expecting this psychological thriller/mystery/suspense kind of story but at the end of the day it checked only the mystery category.

"Those twins weren't right."

This book was loaded with family drama and some shenanigans within the walls of Summerbourne. I honestly enjoyed the first half of this novel especially in Lauren's perspective. I love how it all unfolded in the eyes of Lauren, the outsider, the family's au pair. She noticed things usually family members wouldn't give a shit about. But I could feel the burn out or exhaustion when I realized that this book was basically family drama with a little bit dash of thrill.

"It's them sprites, you know, stirring up trouble at Summerbourne as usual. Don't you go upsetting them or they'll make you pay."

The author's writing was very vivid and gripping though. I remember I couldn't put this book down last night because I just wanted to devour as many pages that I can. She crafted this perfect 'summery' setting with this gorgeous beach and delicious picnics in my mind. The writing wasn't boring nor tiresome too. I was little taken back with the first 5 chapters or so because apparently it was these mountains of paragraphs after paragraphs making each chapter very lengthy. I'm not used to this but I didn't really mind. Just like I said, Rous' writing was very gripping especially on Lauren's perspective as the nanny 20 years ago.

"Where are you going?"
"To the cliffs."

The twists with regards to what happened to Ruth that night were good and indeed shocking. Some felt very convenient but I'll still take it. There were those I could get behind and there were those that made my eye roll. This book's ending was quite cheesy too. It went out like a lifetime drama movie.
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews412 followers
December 17, 2018
An eerie, claustrophobic family saga. Cross V.C. Andrews with Agatha Christie and you have The Au Pair.


On the day twins, Seraphine and Danny Mayes, were born, their mother jumped from the cliff at their Norfolk estate – Summerbourne. Twenty five years later, mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine stumbles across a photograph among his belongings that she’s never seen before. It’s a family snapshot taken the day of her, and Danny’s, birth – showing her father, older brother, and mother – happy and smiling only hours before committing suicide. And in her mother’s arms is not two babies, but one? Where’s the other baby, and what really happened that day? Desperate for answers, Seraphine is determined to track down the Au Pair, Laura, who fled Summerbourne House that same day under mysterious circumstances.

Suspenseful, moody, and atmospheric! Crammed to the brim with all the gothic horror elements I love so much. The isolated, gloomy, yet picturesque setting, befallen by unspoken tragedy, and shouldered in mystery, hidden family secrets, a village riddled with rumours of stolen babies, forbidden romance, and creepy Norfolk folklore had me turning the pages at lightning speed. And then there was the ending – as twisty and shocking as it was emotional and moving.

Chapters alternate between Seraphine and Laura – past and present on a non-stop collision course to reveal the truth. I cared about both characters, and their narratives had me fully immersed from the get go. Supporting characters were just as interesting and intrigued, especially the brothers/sister bond between Seraphine, Danny, and Edwin.

A quick, engrossing novel, that I couldn’t put down. One of my top ten reads for the year no question. I will be waiting with bated breath for Emma Rous’ next book.

UK Edition: 6th December 2018 (Out Now!)

US Edition: 8th January 2019
Profile Image for Kendall.
644 reviews653 followers
January 9, 2019

Happy publication day to this mysterious read!!

WOW...... what a book!

Mysterious, beautiful, and addicting!

Ok... let's all acknowledge that cover... ok it's fantastic! This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018 and I have to say that Emma Rous did not disappoint ;).

There is a underlying mysterious story to the two twins Seraphine and Danny. Both twins were born at the beautiful family's estate in Norfolk. A picture is taken of the mother Ruth and their older son Edwin, and only one of the twins. Which one is it and where is the other twin? This story will take you on one nail biting ride behind this family and the underlying secrets that will have your eyes bugging out.

The story is seductive with a gothic mystery at your hands. Emma Rous beautifully interweaves her characters with ease through this story that you will not want to put down.

The only minor issue I had with this one was once the story finally was revealed it was a tad bit unbelievable in some parts. And the drama between the family members was a little over the top towards the end. Despite this minor issues, the web of dark lies kept my interest peaked to the core!!!

You won't want to miss this novel!! Must read!

Huge thank you to Berkley Pub for my copy in advanced for an honest review.

4 riveting stars!

Pub date: 1/8/19
Published to GR: 1/5/19
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
238 reviews166 followers
December 10, 2018
4 Stars!

Why did he say I was impossible? Who Am I?

Seraphine is mourning her Dad's death with her twin brother Danny and their older brother Edwin. They recently buried him when Seraphine starts searching through his things. She comes across a questionable photograph that sends her mind into a million questions. The biggest one is Am I who I think I am? Seraphine starts to do some research and finds out who the Au Pair was the day she was born and who else was close to the family. She tries to track these people down and tries to get answers. Each time she finds someone they tell her to stay away and they continue getting threatening letters. That then raises the question of Who is sending these threats and what are they trying to hide?

The book switches from Seraphine's story during present day to Laura's story back in 1991-1992, when everything transpired. It was an interesting parallel as we were finding out what happened as Seraphine was discovering it. I personally enjoyed the flow of the book and thought it went back and forth nicely. Each chapter continued to keep me engaged and I really wanted to continue reading through as I really wanted to know what happened and who was sending these threats, although I had my theories and was right a few times!

I read the title of this - The Au Pair and went in expecting there would be a family and then there would be an affair with the Au Pair and the father. Typically that is what happens in these kinds of stories. However there was more to it than just affairs. There were a lot of intermixing of characters and their story lines which gave it a lot more depth than just an affair or maybe affairs...you'll just have to read to find out.

This is the author, Emma Rous's first novel and I will definitely pick up her future novels!

Thank you to Berkley Publishing for sending me an advanced copy of this book. This one comes out January 8, 2019 and I highly recommend picking it up!
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 9 books398 followers
May 1, 2023
A fun mystery trying to unknot secrets of the past and figure out parentage when many of the people who could tell the truth aren’t able to do so any more. Told in dual timelines, Seraphini has always suspected she doesn’t quite fit in, that she doesn’t look like the rest of her family, and that the circumstances surrounding her mother’s suicide on the day of her birth were suspicious. She has a twin, along with an older brother, and in the months leading up toher birth, that older brother was cared for by an au pair (as per the title), who is the other pov in this. It’s definitely an interesting narrative, and even if a stretch to believe in places, that makes it no less entertaining. I enjoyed the twists the deeper in we got.
Profile Image for Diana | Book of Secrets.
797 reviews596 followers
February 19, 2019
4.5 Stars → Seraphine and Danny are twins, and on the day they were born back in 1992, their mother jumped from the cliffs behind their coastal estate of Summerbourne. Much later, after the death of their father, Seraphine comes across an old photo from that fateful day that raises suspicions about their family. The one person that may have answers to her questions is Laura, the au pair who disappeared shortly after her mother's suicide. But as it turns out, someone is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the truth buried.

I greatly enjoyed this twisted tale of family secrets, told in dual timelines and points of view with Laura in the past, and Seraphine in the present. I couldn't resist the Gothic feeling and setting on the windswept coast of England. The writing and descriptions were lovely, and I had to pause and reread certain passages to savor. I enjoyed trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces fit, and nope, I did not have it right! I was easily entangled in the mystery of this dysfunctional family. Highly recommended for fans of domestic suspense.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪 | Instagram | Pinterest | ✿
January 21, 2019
Seraphine returns to her family's home after her father's funeral. She is joined by her twin brother Danny and her older brother Edwin. While cleaning up her father's possessions, she discovers an old photograph that raises some troubling questions. The photo is dated from the twins’ birth but their mother is only holding one baby. Which child is her mother holding and why aren't both babies in the photo?

The photo also shows her mother very happy and proud yet that is the same day she committed suicide. Seraphine decides to pursue the irregularities surrounding the photo and her mother’s death. She starts her search by contacting her former nanny who snapped the photograph.

This is a debut novel by Emma Rous. The story is told from two points of view referencing the past and present. The Au Pair was a suspenseful and well-paced story with engaging family dynamics.
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