Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.
For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.
In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.
But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared.
Victoria Helen Stone is the nom de plume for USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl. After publishing more than twenty-five novels, she has taken a turn toward the darker side of genre fiction. Born and educated in the Midwest, she finished her first manuscript just after college. In 2016, the American Library Association awarded her the prestigious Reading List Award for outstanding genre fiction. Having escaped the plains of her youth, she now resides with her family in a small town high in the Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and not skiing (too dangerous).
Victoria Helen Stone has crafted an entertaining fast-paced Addictive story. Johnny and Veronica were college sweethearts the perfect couple. BUT as all avid thriller Readers know... no couple is perfect and this one wasn’t even close! So many secrets, so many lies, all that threaten to come out when Johnny earns hero status after rescuing a young boy. SO even though Johnny’s newfound status leads to an increase in Business for his personal training, it also puts this family in a vulnerable position. What happens when you can’t hide from the truth anymore? When all it takes is one falls step? And all the lies and secrets will come crumbling down?
Where to start with this one? Well first off I disliked all the major characters in this book. None of them had many if any redeeming qualities and they all had a lot to hide. I did however have compassion for Johnny and Veronica’s 11-year-old daughter Sydney, the poor girl was caught in the crossfire of all this nonsense. I also had a lot of sympathy for Veronica‘s mother, sister and her sisters wife. Innocent bystanders... I seriously do not think Johnny or Veronica considered how any of their actions impacted anyone but themselves? At times I have to admit this did get frustrating and a little tiring, but then something would happen and I was just hooked! Miss Stone definitely has an addictive writing style that kept me engaged the entire time. I figured out the who and the Y pretty early I just didn’t completely no the how. However this did not detract from the story at all, because at the end I was seriously on the edge of my seat just waiting to see how this all was going to play out! Sometimes it’s not all about the twist, it is about the getting there!If you’re looking for a quick absorbing thriller then this is the book!
*** Big thanks to Lake Union for my gifted copy of this book ***
I finished False Step in one sitting. I just need to say that before I start this review. Last summer, I read Victoria Helen Stone's Jane Doe and immediately became obsessed with this author, so when I was given the opportunity to read and review her upcoming romantic thriller, False Step, I was very excited. If you go into False Step thinking that it's going to be the same style as Jane Doe—PLEASE THROW THAT IDEA OUT OF YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW. It's a different realm of reality, but still delivers the entertainment value that you've come to expect from the author.
Tanner Holcomb has been missing for a few days now, and the entire suburban Denver community is freaking out. They are all worried about the boy's whereabouts, and it's been heavily featured all over the local media. However, Johnny Bradley ends up stumbling across the boy while on a run in the local park. The boy is disheveled, but unharmed, and Johnny becomes the local hero. Johnny is a handsome, attractive, personal trainer—he is the perfect fit for celebrity fodder. The local news stations have painted Johnny as the town's newfound celebrity. His wife Veronica is having issues with Johnny's notoriety and is apprehensive about engaging with the media. Veronica's marriage to Johnny isn't perfect—nobody's marriage is—but will this intense media scrutiny be too much to handle for her family?
The best thing about False Step is the mystery behind the marriage of Johnny and Veronica, so I won't divulge anymore information about it. Go into this story with no suspicions or expectations. Throw everything you know about mystery novels out the window, and get ready for a surprise treat. At first, none of the characters are particularly likable or redeeming, but as the novel grew in intensity, I started seeing myself falling deeply connected to them. Why do I care about these characters so much? They are so vulnerable, and they are battling demons that can resonate with anyone. As Johnny's fame grew within the community, I felt so personally connected to Veronica's family. Veronica, Johnny, their daughter Sydney, Veronica's parents, everybody. It's been a day since I've read False Step, and I'm still thinking about them.
This book is very fast-paced, and at under 300 pages you can definitely read this in one sitting (like me ;) ). There's no moments of sedimentary boredom (new phrase that I just made up, do you like it?) within the story, and there's no slow burn type of moments during the narrative to try to keep the momentum from burning out too fast. The story starts immediately in the first chapter, and the pacing is light-speed fast from there on out. It starts full speed ahead, and grips you from the first chapter. I've noticed a certain charm or wit when it comes to Stone's writing, and I'm completely addicted to it. Keep these stories coming, Victoria!False Step is smart, wild, sexy, and dark—it's definitely been one of the best books I've read this year.
I definitely want to read Jane Doe now! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Tanner Holcomb is a missing child. He’s been lost for days. Then the best thing happens. He’s found by Johnny Bradley on a hiking trail miles away from home.
Johnny was a fitness trainer working hard to make ends meet and now is a hero on every news channel. Johnny’s wife, Veronica, is tiring of the spotlight, though. She’s also worried this focus will cause some secrets about their marriage to be unearthed. Veronica will do anything to keep that from happening.
And then something occurs that causes Veronica to question everything she thought she knew, and it involves Tanner’s disappearance at its core.
Edgy, smoothly-written, well-paced, gripping: I loved my first Victoria Helen Stone book! False Step was pure entertainment. You should know going in it centers on the mystery of the marriage between Johnny and Veronica. There is a big backstory there.
I found the characters in False Step to be complex and fallible, which made them more relatable, even though I didn’t necessarily like them. I still cared about them because of their vulnerability. This is a brisk read, addictive, smart, and oh-so-dark! Grab this book when you are looking for a fun and wild ride!
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
The big reveal in the end wasn't that exciting for me. I figured it out before all of the main characters did. And speaking of the main characters, they had no redeeming qualities. I didn't bond with them or feel any sort of connection to them because they were so pathetic.
Not even sure why I finished this book. It should have easily been a short story considering most of the first half of the book is fluff.
Her job was to help people regain remedial skills, and very few clients were thrilled to have that opportunity.
She’d suspected Johnny of cheating plenty of times, but as far as she knew, it had only happened once. Just once… As for that one time? Well, she’d forgiven him. Or she thought she had. It turned out that frantically gluing the broken pieces of a marriage back together didn’t make for the tightest hold.
Her daughter didn’t notice or didn’t care, and that was a blessing. Children were naturally selfish. Their selfishness protected them from noticing the rough currents of life that pulled in all directions. But they noticed the rapids. They knew when they were being sucked under.
There were crimes anyone might commit, like jaywalking or smuggling a really cool rock home from a national park. Then there were certain crimes you could assign to people you knew well. Trish, for instance, might steal a campaign sign from a bigoted school board candidate and throw it in the trash if no one was looking.
“Mom, though … I swear to God, Veronica, I think she imagined that Fatima and I would have twice as many grandkids because we have two wombs.” “It’s the clear benefit of having a lesbian daughter, Trish. Extra incubation space.”
I’m a bit conflicted on how to rate and feel about this one. The characters were not at all likable or trustworthy as they were actually quite selfish and contemptible, yet my curiosity was tipped and I wanted to know how their story would shake out. The intriguing storylines and subplots were slowly exposed with steadily rising levels of angst and uncertainty over a variety of stressors. Suspected serial spousal infidelities, as well as her own current cheating, were but one of many concerns the highly anxious and deeply resentful main character of Veronica was constantly obsessing over. Her husband’s heroics of finding a lost child brought immediate media attention as well as police scrutiny to her home, resulting in additional complications and spirals of anxiety, and for good reason. The writing and storylines were taut with tension, tragedy, unexpected twists and turns, and an occasional greatly appreciated glimpse of wit.
I had raving reviews about this author with her previous book Jane Doe. I passed on reading it since I had a feeling it wouldn't live up to my expectations. But, decided to give False Step a try! :)
Where do I start with this one? Well.. I have to say definitely to watch your step in this marriage.
The story revolves around Johnny and his wife Veronica. There is a missing boy Tanner Holcomb who has frightened the entire town of in Denver. By a miracle, Veronica's husband Johnny was hiking one morning and discovered the little boy Tanner unharmed on his hike.
Although, NOTHING is what it appears to be behind the disappearance of Tanner. Johnny is enjoying the spotlight and being the "hero" for finding this little boy. Veronica on the other hand is feeling anxious with all the spotlight and is afraid that her secrets behind their marriage will come out.
Well let me tell you.... Veronica's fears come to light with the amount of secrets.lies. and deception that are spilled to the core.
This was a solid 3 star for me... I wasn't that impressed in all honesty.
I saw the story play out in my mind and unfortunately I saw it coming a mile away. I have seen this plot before and it wasn't anything new for me.
I was rolling my eyes a bit towards the end and just wanted to finish the story in all honesty.
Stone definitely has talent behind her writing.... but was lacking a unique plot with twists....which is very hard for authors to do with thrillers lately.
Thank you so much to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the arc in exchange for an honest review.
Publication date: 7/1/19 Published to Goodreads: 4/2/19
Veronica is suddenly in the spotlight when her husband, Johnny, finds a missing toddler. Johnny is enjoying being a hero and all the media attention, but Veronica is afraid her secrets may be revealed. When Veronica learns there was more to the toddler's disappearance, she realizes her secrets are the least of her worries.
A combination of family drama and suspense. Veronica is unhappy with her life, primarily with her marriage. When Johnny is the local hero and in all the news, Veronica feels even more overwhelmed. Add in the mystery surrounding the toddler's disappearance, and Veronica life is completely turned upside down.
A fast-paced and entertaining domestic suspense. This is a fairly predictable story, especially for avid readers of thrillers. Still, I found it to be an enjoyable summer read. Dark, fun, and compelling.
2.5 Veronica was a tough character for me to root for during the entire book. She was whiny, selfish, immature and full of excuses. Johnny is a douchy, gym rat who is dumb and gullible. Together they make a match made in “I hate these people” heaven. If you are like me, and characters and character development can make or break it, than this one could be a bit problematic. BUT I think that people who don’t read a lot of twisty thrillers or someone looking to read a quick read could really like this book. I basically read it in a day, I liked the pacing and the story had some murdery bits, which I like, but I just hated all of the people. Maybe that won’t be a big issue for you, so give it a try.
3.50 rounded up! I just finished it so need to think about it before I add any more to the review. I will say right now it's totally different than Jane Doe, and in my opinion, not as good. However, with that being said, I believe Ms. Stone is a stellar writer and a shining star talent, so her 'lesser' effort is still better than most others. The plot had so many twists I was entirely confused on what I thought was going on, and was completely shocked by the ending. I will say none of the characters were even remotely likable, which made this one even more realistic to me! The writing style made the pacing so swift I had to stop myself from reading this in just a couple of sittings! I'd definitely give this one a shot, with the expectation that it will be a completely different bag of tricks than Jane Doe was. I cannot wait for Problem Child to hit my local bookstore's shelves!
I chose this as I had read ‘Evelyn, After’ by this author and really rated it but oh boy, was I disappointed with this one. I didn’t feel that it was particularly well written, there was repetition especially of the main character’s thoughts which frankly were not that riveting anyway, the plot was predictable and rather dull. On the plus side it didn’t take that long to read which I’m sorry to say is about all the positives I can muster. Apologies, as this one was not my cuppa.
A book replete with completely unlikeable, pathetic, characters, and a plot I figured out before the halfway point. I DID finish it more quickly than usual, but I think that was more about me trying to plow through it vs actually caring about what happened. I give it 2 stars for the actual writing, but I found myself feeling disgusted with the characters and story from beginning to end.
I figured out who the bad guys were VERY early on and frankly it was a little predictable. I was hopeful that Veronica would be a better character than she was and not so cliche’. Luckily, i only invested an afternoon reading this. 😕
I haven’t had a lot of luck choosing Amazon Prime Read books and FALSE STEP by Victoria Helen Stone is no exception.
Stone initially drew me in as Veronica learns her husband has found a missing boy. Suddenly a hero, Johnny ate up the spotlight, which draws police attention. What ensues is a convoluted plot where most everyone, except Veronica’s sister and her wife, is a villain, some more than others. FALSE STEP is filled with inadequate parents, bad marriages, dishonest characters and dysfunctional relationships.
Stone’s writing did keep me engaged enough to read until the end, only to see if my theories, which I guessed early in were correct and they were. The ending was the low point of FALSE STEP and left me feeling disappointed.
Last year one of my favorite and most memorable reads was Jane Doe so of course False Step was high up on my list of most anticipated reads for this year. I loved how original and unique that one was and I adored Jane as a character even though I probably shouldn’t have loved a sociopath as much as I did. I’m so sad to say that this one just didn’t work for me at all.
While initially I was very interested to see where this one was going by about a quarter of the way in I had worked out exactly what was going to happen. I also hated every single character besides the young daughter, Sydney. Veronica was endlessly annoying to me and the whole cast was hypocritical and so exhausting. I’m not gonna sit here and endlessly bash the book because I still really enjoy Stone as an author and will gladly be reading Problem Child as I’m a fan of her writing style. This was just predictable and cliches and just not the right book for me. If you haven’t read JD though I highly recommend that one and if you’re not a seasoned thriller reader this one may work better for you than it did for me.
This 280 page book could be condensed to a 25 page story, and you wouldn't miss a thing. Tedium abounds.
None of the characters have a single redeeming quality. Veronica stays in an unhappy marriage, her behavior spiraling from unscrupulous to unforgivable, all to "protect" her daughter from... divorce? Seriously, no. Johnny is a caricature of a stereotype, who does appalling things for personal gain, plays the roll of victim when caught, and then Veronica accepts his rationale. I wanted them both to die.
Nothing about the plot is surprising, aside from the characters being too dumb to see what was happening.
And that sums up my feelings on this one.
*I received a review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.*
This book gets one star solely for providing an opportunity to say how angry I am that I wasted time reading it. The initial premise of the story seemed intriguing, but the plot became preposterous as the story unfolded. As other commentators have written, the characters were entirely unlikable, but worse than that, they were boring and utterly predictable. There are great novels where the main character is flawed, but this book had no redeeming qualities. I plowed through to see if my prediction of the ending was accurate, and it was. The best I can say about this book is that I borrowed it from the library and didn’t buy it.
1.5 stars rounded up. This story was so incredibly boring with unlikable characters that I had to skim read the first 160 some pages. It seemed to center on how everyone cheated. It picked up some the last 100 pages as it focused more on the plot but still I wasn't vested in the characters or the story.
Hard to recommend this one as I was simply glad it was over.
If you haven't read Victoria Helen Stone's Jane Doe yet, stop everything and pick that book up immediately. I did last year and it was one of my favorites for 2018. I've been anxiously awaiting the next Jane Doe book but in the mean time, Stone has given us False Step. Keep in mind, Jane Doe lovers, that this book is different than Jane Doe so walk in with an open mind.
Stone proves again that her writing style is easy to read and keeps you turning the pages. This one is a domestic suspense/thriller and while it's predictable, it was a lot of fun to read. (I've also spent a week of reading legal documents for work so this was the perfect lighter read that I needed to relax and be entertained). The relationship between Veronica and Johnny felt very real - the issues they have.. the reasons they stay together anyways. The things they do to make it ok to continue to DO THE THINGS THEY DO. And then there's the twisty plot that was thrown in. I could've just read about their relationship, their dog (Old Man) and their daughter without the other story and have been just fine. I've also learned never to trust any men with biblical names (ha - just kidding).
Combine and unhappy marriage with a kidnapping that brings out secrets best left in the dark meshed with a twisty ending then you get an entertaining read. At under 300 pages, this is an easy one sit read. I can tell this will be a little divisive - especially for those who have read Jane Doe and expected something similar.
At the end of the day, if Victoria Helen Stone writes it, I'm gonna read it.
Having been a huge fan of Jane Doe last year, I was really excited to get my hands on False Step, but this one was not as amazing as Jane Doe for me (they can't all be five stars)!
What worked for me: -False Step is a quick read and the plot definitely moves along at a quick pace
What did not work for me: -Protagonist was extremely unlikeable and it was hard to sympathize with her perils when you couldn't root for her - how do you love a woe is me character when she brings the woe on herself? -Plot was predictable and cliched
I will say I think there is a part of me that has read too many thrillers where I can see the twists from a mile away. I'd say for a casual thriller reader who isn't oversaturated on them, this will work better. Sadly, that wasn't me.
I will say, bring on Problem Child - the Jane Doe sequel coming in 2020.
I received an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
I couldn't put this book down and 24-hours later from picking it up and I am finished! It was brilliant and it feels like I have been pulled out of my reading slump, thanks to this offering from Stone. Not having encountered this author before, I won't hesitate to look out for her other books in future.
The plot of this novel drew me in immediately. It was thrilling, immersive and gripping. I could not predict the final outcome and I enjoyed how Stone implicated other characters in the plot. The protagonist, Veronica, is quite woeful - literally! A bit like Eeyore, she finds her marriage to Johnny has completely lost its spark. If it wasn't for their daughter, Sydney, Veronica knows she would have left her husband years previous, especially as it is revealed that he cheated on Veronica and she, subsequently, has been harbouring jealous thoughts about many of the women that Johnny works with.
However, an unexpected curve ball was thrown by the writer when it is eventually revealed that Veronica herself is not as innocent as we initially believe. The clues that the writer provides lead to a revelation about Veronica, which becomes one of the main driving forces behind the plot. Whilst the community is still reeling from Johnny's rescue of the missing toddler, we find that there is more to the story than initially presented. And with the police investigation drawing closer to her door, Veronica begins to feel even more pressure on her life.
Veronica was quite a likeable character however, her pessimism was quite draining! All part of the characterisation, I really enjoyed how Stone creates such a claustrophobic environment surrounding Veronica, and how oppressed she appears, especially in contrast with her extroverted husband. She gradually grows in strength during the novel and soon learns that she needs to take control of her own life and its path.
This novel had me guessing incorrectly all the way through. Some people have reviewed this story as predictable but for me, I just immersed myself into the plot and didn't worry too much about whether my guesses were correct or not. I enjoyed the read and the pace that this book offered; it was not too heavy and the subject matter, whilst it centralises on a missing toddler, is certainly not suffocating.
A jolly good thriller that makes you realise that you need to appreciate what life has to offer, rather than wishing for an escape! I was a bit sad when this finished but I just could not put it down, eager to know the resolution. This is certainly one of the better reads I have encountered in the last few weeks.
I adored Jane Doe - it was one of my favourite reads in 2018 - and really enjoyed the author's (vastly different) Evelyn, After. Although False Step kept me entertained, it didn't wow me.
It's very well-written, Ms. Stone is a skilled and talented writer, and the characters truly came alive. I just know that the protagonist, Veronica, and her husband, Johnny, will stay with me a long time. The opening scene hooked me and I eagerly turned the rest of the pages. Unfortunately the ending was a bit predictable; a few red herrings would've really added to my enjoyment. I also found it hard to believe that the main character could be quite so blind to the truth.
Nevertheless I am glad I read it, and I'll definitely read Ms. Stone's other books. Recommended.
Around a year ago I picked up Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone, which turned out to be not only the best book I read all year, but one of the best I've read in a very, very long time. Judging by other reviews on this book, I'm not alone in thinking that.
Much excitement, then, when False Step appeared on the First Reads list, an instant no-brainer to choose it. This shows the difference expectation makes to the enjoyment of a book. When I read Jane Doe I had no expectations. To be honest, I chose it because none of the books on the list that month particularly grabbed me. This time, I had very high expectations because of the author, and sadly that led to a degree of disappointment. I might have rated this book 4 stars on another day, but the fact I had expected and hoped for more dropped it to three stars.
This is still a good book. Apart from one notable "continuity" error, where Veronica looks for a phone only to discover that Johnny has taken it with him, but then a few pages later, she has the phone in her pocket as Johnny has left it behind in case it gets found, the book is well constructed and well written. The problem for me isn't even the plot, which is a good premise. It's the basic lack of anything interesting for a big portion of the book. Until half way through we don't even know what it is we're supposed to be wondering about. It reads much like some kind of kitchen-sink drama, not like a suspense or thriller book.
The last quarter of the book saves it. Once the mystery starts to reveal itself, it unravels quickly. Yes, I saw the twist coming before it was revealed but it still develops well and creates a good amount of tension. I like the way the author manages to avoid her characters being "black and white" (much as she did in Jane Doe), understanding that good people sometimes do bad things, and sometimes bad things are done for good reasons. Happy endings are for fairy tales and sometimes endings are just endings, partly happy, partly sad. All of this gives a good depth and realism to her characters.
This book will certainly appeal to readers of books like The Girl On The Train, and similar psychological suspense books. It was a good book. It just wasn't Jane Doe, and that's why I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped.
One afternoon, Johnny Bradley is running in the woods with his dog and discovers a missing 3-year old boy named Tanner Holcomb. Johnny’s Wife, Veronica, sees her husband’s face plastered on the news before even touching base with him—in the blink of an eye their lives are in the spotlight.
As Johnny becomes known as the town hero, Veronica is wishing for his minute of fame to pass. Veronica’s been struggling in their marriage and feels stuck because they have a daughter together—10-year old Sydney. But as their personal life is put on blast, the cracks in the Bradley’s marriage start to become more apparent. Veronica worries that the secrets she has been hiding will be uncovered. And she no longer can pull the wool over her eyes about her husband’s lies.
What seemed like a stroke of good luck quickly seems like the worst thing that could’ve happened to this family.
False Step is Victoria Helen Stone’s latest stand-alone thriller. I’ve read one book previously by this author—Jane Doe—and enjoyed it, so I was excited to get my hands on her newest release. This book is different from Jane Doe, as False Step is more of a domestic thriller. At first, I found the story to be on the slow side, but once it picked up, things got so good! The twists along the way were timed well and the final reveal was the cherry on top to a great read. 4.5/5 stars.
This book was way too long for what it was. I feel like it would have packed more punch as a short story because so much of the beginning was just unnecessary and boring.
Veronica is bored as fuck in her loveless marriage to her high school sweetheart Johnny, who she married after finding out she was pregnant and then later found out Johnny is a narcissist. It's been ten years and she's literally counting the days until her daughter is old enough to "handle" them divorcing. *eye roll* As a child of divorce myself I hate when people think it fucks up the kids....it's more fucked up to stay together and your kids totally can see that! Anyways, apparently her daughter was really messed up over Veronica's parent's divorce, but they never really explain why or how and so we are left to wonder. The kid is just a side note who seems sheltered and annoying tbh. Veronica has daddy-issues and wonders to herself about them frequently.
Johnny is a personal trainer who happens to discover a missing child of a wealthy family on a hike one day and then omg the press are out in full force to make him into a hero and Veronica is very much not into it and wants it all to go away because she's a grump and also keeping a typical secret form her hubby. Hubby is keeping secrets of his own and wow the kid being discovered wasn't so random after all.
I expected so much more after reading and loving Jane Doe, but this was such a run-of-the-mill thriller with a predictable plot that I yawned my way through it waiting and wanting more than it provided. False Step? More like False Start.