Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Playing Nice

Rate this book
What if you found out that your family isn't yours at all? How far would you go to protect them? A gripping new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Girl Before. . . .

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent's worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete's son, Theo, isn't actually his son--he is the Lamberts', switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they've been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.

The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents--or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts' glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

They are done playing nice.

416 pages, Hardcover

First published July 28, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

J.P. Delaney

12 books4,621 followers
J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
13,991 (33%)
4 stars
19,151 (45%)
3 stars
7,167 (17%)
2 stars
1,217 (2%)
1 star
305 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,299 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
October 12, 2020
Can you imagine during your mid-day somebody knocking on your door and when you answer it, you see a man standing in front of you looks like older version of your son!

There are three options for you to express your feelings:

1) Slamming the door shut at the man’s face and form a plan to kill your spouse for her infidelity (you may also hire a contract killer if you have great connections at the dark web. Don’t you dare to ask me how I can know!)

2) Slamming the door shut at the man’s face, moving fast to toss everything inside your valise, grabbing your son and leaving your place from your back door.

3) Scrutinizing the guy’s face, acting like a naïve, gullible person and asking: “could you be my son’s second cousin?’
I know my three options are so stupid! And I cannot imagine a man appears in front of my door telling me two years ago our kids switch at birth and he is biological dad of my son. It’s so devilish, smart, gripping, hooking you from the beginning plot, isn’t it? That’s why J. P. Delaney is one of the great authors: he doesn’t give us stupid choices or plot has more holes than my socks have! (I spent all my money to booze and books! And I love my feet get more air!)

So we have two families: Lamberts-wealthy ones (Miles and Lucy) and Rileys ( wait a minute, we have Pete and Maddie but they are not married and unfortunately they are not financially stable. Pete is journalist, stay at home dad but he is responsible and gets parenting very seriously, spending his time at chat forms for dads to read the comments and try the best options to help his son! Maddie suffered from post-partum depression after giving birth to her child and had problems to connect with him. She didn’t share the same bound Pete and Theo have but it doesn’t make her bad mother and it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him, does it?)

Two switched kids: Theo and David.

Miles’ life completely changes at the day Miles Lambert knocks his front door accompanied with a private investigator, showing him the DNA results and telling him they’re suing the hospital for their crucial and impactful mistake! But a few pages later we find out: there are affidavits indicate that Miles also sues the family and we may sense he’s after the full custody of Theo!

Two families arrange a meeting at Miles’ big mansion, being introduced with David and they find out: little boy suffer from brain damage, introvert kid. They finally decide they are not gonna change anything with children’s life: they will live with the same parents but they also decide they’ll involve their biological child’s life like a family friend do.

Both parties seem like appeased with the solution but wait for it! We have a real psychopath in this equation and a psychopath gets furious when he doesn’t get his way and things get uglier. Could Nate and Maddie resume playing nice around them for their son’s sake? Did they put themselves in danger at the very same day they accepted Lamberts in their lives?

This is gripping, psychological, high tensioned family drama plays with your nerves, making you face with your insecurities and inner fears, nightmares! I was wearing gloves not to bite my nails during my reading so you may imagine I changed 6 pairs of gloves! I may have stress-eaten some of them!

The conclusion of the story and final twists are also well-played, well-written and well-developed.

Overall: I read while I was sitting at the edge of my couch. It was one of the reads make you nervous, edgy, frustrated and when you finish it, you take a long deep breathe and say thanks loudly for not being one of the characters of the book!
This means I’m addictive to this author’s books and I keep going blind and devouring them without thinking a second!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine for sharing this fantastic ARC in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for Mary Beth .
383 reviews1,768 followers
September 30, 2020

4.5 Stars!

The door bell rang and Peter Riley went to answer the door and there were two young men outside the door, and one of them looked exactly like Theo, his son. "Can we come in they asked". "Its about your son they said". "It would be better to talk indoors". Pete let them in and Miles Lambert introduced himself and Don Maguire. "Prepare yourself for a shock, Lambert said." " I am sorry to tell you that Theo is not your son'. "He is mine." Don Maguire says that we both have sons who were born prematurely and they were both transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Alexander's. It's conceivable that at some point during the process the wrong tags were put on the babies.
"So you have our son Pete asked". Miles Lambert nodded. "We call him David". How do you know this, Pete asks. Miles let him know that Don Maguire is a private investigator. We took a sippy cup that belonged to Theo at Theo's nursery. The tests came back yesterday and there is no doubt that Theo is my son. This is how it all begins and life will never be the same again. Pete and his wife Maddie discover that they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe. They are done playing nice.

I was captivated straight from the beginning until the very end. This one kept me on the edge of my seat and was a roller coaster ride. This is a suspenseful dark psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages. I loved the short chapters. This also is a family drama and it's every parents worst nightmare. I loved the shocking twists. There were some dark secrets and lies. There also were a lot of Oh No, moments! I loved the ending and all the characters were very well developed.

This was a buddy read with my friend, Susan!

I want to thank NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group-Ballentine for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Now Available!

Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,196 reviews3,034 followers
July 28, 2020
Wow, what a horrible thing to happen to a family, to two families! Two years after Maggie and Pete have the agonizing time of their son Theo being born months early, and all the heartbreak that goes with such a tiny premature baby, a man enters their life and tells them that Theo is his son, that their babies were accidentally switched not long after they were born and sent to the ICU for babies. Miles and Lucy, who have baby David, have had him DNA tested so they are positive he is not their son. Miles has also secretly had Theo tested and they know that Theo is their son. Miles claims that they want to work with Maggie and Pete, to not disrupt the life of either boy, but allow both sets of parents to play a role in each boy's life. 

Theo is very headstrong and seems to lack any trace of compassion or kindness to others, but he's just two years old and Pete is a fantastic, stay at home, hands on father, willing to make any changes in his raising and guidance of Theo, to ensure he learns healthy social skills. Theo looks like Miles and even seems to take after Miles in other ways. And little David looks like Maggie and reminds her of her favorite brother, when he was David's age. David has mental and physical challenges from his very premature birth and Miles and Lucy have the money to give him the special care he needs, although their huge home and their life, seems so sterile and cold, to Maggie and Pete. 

Then things start falling apart. Miles is demanding, thinking he's going to send Theo to boarding school when he's older, dropping by Theo's house at night to spend time with him, interfering with Theo, Pete, and Maggie's routine and lives. Miles practically demands that Pete, Maggie, and Theo go on a week long vacation with his family and when Pete and Maggie revolt, all hell breaks loose and their life explodes into a huge legal and moral mess. There is even a suspicion that someone may have swapped the babies on purpose. People have been hurt and murder may even play a part in this story. Things look hopeless for Pete and Maggie and they realize they may not ever get to see either child again. What at first seems like a domestic drama definitely turns into a thriller. 

Publication: July 28th 2020

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,443 reviews7,062 followers
June 11, 2020
“A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path”.

-The Last Seance (from The Hound of Death and Other Stories, also Double Sin and Other Stories)”
― Agatha Christie, The Hound of Death.

Pete and Maggie Riley have a 2 year old son Theo, they’re having a few problems right now with his behaviour, he’s very naughty at home, and doesn’t want to play nice with the other kids at nursery, he resorts to hitting and biting them to get his own way, and there have been complaints from other parents about him - so much so, that he’s in danger of being asked to leave the nursery altogether, but do Pete and Maggie love him? Of course they do! Would they give their life for him? Absolutely!

Pete, a full time Dad, is sitting down to a well earned coffee, after dropping Theo off at nursery, when he’s interrupted by the doorbell. He discovers two men at the door, one being a tall athletic looking guy named Miles Lambert, and what they tell Pete shocks him to the core - they have proof that Theo isn’t Pete and Maggie’s son - the fact is, Theo was swapped at birth with Miles and wife Lucy’s little boy David!

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise just how earth shattering that announcement would be, but nevertheless, after the initial shock, the two families try to adjust to what has been an absolute bombshell, and they all agree that they want an amicable relationship, for the sake of everyone, but especially for the children.

However, events quickly take a turn for the worse, and for Pete and Maggie, it will prove an absolutely terrifying experience, but I won’t reveal any more than that, as I’d hate to spoil it for those of you tempted to read it.

This thought provoking thriller is psychological suspense at its best, completely and utterly gripping, with some seriously good twists - miss this one at your peril!

* Thank you to Netgalley and Quercus Books for my ARC, in exchange for an honest unbiased review*
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,297 reviews27.9k followers
August 14, 2020
This was so flipping good!!!! The premise for this book is the most exciting thriller premise I've heard of in quite some time. It follows this couple Pete and Maddie who are raising their two year old son Theo, when this other couple knocks on their door and tells them their children were accidentally swapped at the hospital when they gave birth. Their birth son David has been being raised by this other couple Miles and Lisa for the last two years, and now they have the difficult decision of deciding what to do next... keep this child that you've been raising for the last two years and have already formed a bond and attachment to, but watch your birth child getting raised by strangers? Or swapping the kids back and raising your birth child, a child you don't yet know.

This topic was FASCINATING to read about and I could literally not book this book down. This book got me out of my weird reading slump I've been in for weeks. I keep talking about this book with everyone I know, asking them what they would do in a situation like this because it's just so interesting to me. This book was a roller coaster and we follow back and forth between Maddie and Pete's POV as they deal with this other couple and trying to navigate the most impossible circumstances. This book was over 400 pages but I FLEW through this book, it ended up being a very quick read for me.

I saw one of the twists coming at the end, but the one I didn't see coming left me freaking shook!!! I was just so genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this, definitely one of my favorite thrillers of 2020 so far. This is my first book from this author so now I'm super interested in checking out more books from them!
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,189 reviews2,253 followers
July 28, 2020
JULY 28, 2020

If I were Forrest Gump, or perhaps his mother, I would say, “J P Delaney books are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Nothing formulaic, about this author’s work! The first was suspense, the second read like a screenplay, the third had a sci-fi feel, and now comes “Playing Nice” one that will feel like a family drama for the MAJORITY of the book but, don’t worry...not everything is what it seems!


Until it wasn’t.

A knock on the door changes everything for Pete and Maddie, our two narrators, when they are told that they took home the wrong baby, from the hospital two years ago...two babies accidentally switched at birth.

At first, Miles and Lucy, the other parents involved, are “playing nice”.

But, it is just an act, and since Miles is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants is his biological son, Theo, he will stop at nothing to get him back!

My favorite chocolate in the box...caramel pecan turtles...yummy!
My favorite Delaney book-“Playing Nice”!

But set aside a chunk of time to read it-you WON’T be able to put it down!!

Thank You to Netgalley, Ballantine books and the author for the digital arc I received in exchange for a candid review!
Profile Image for Bridgett.
Author 22 books465 followers
July 28, 2020

Hello, friends! Meet my first 5-star stunner of 2020!

I've had a few 4.5 star reads which I've rounded up, but Playing Nice has become the understated hit of my reading season thus far.

I confess, after The Perfect Wife, a story of which I was NOT a fan, I honestly didn't have high hopes going in. However, since I really enjoyed The Girl Before, I was absolutely willing to give J.P. Delaney another shot.

I'm so glad I did!

This book is everything I never knew I wanted. Swapped baby stories are such a cliché, but Playing Nice is so much more. This is a story about mental illness, addiction, abuse, murder, lies, betrayal, the law, and most importantly, it covers just how far parents are willing to go to protect the child they love, despite the multitude of nightmarish scenarios facing them. It's a total roller-coaster ride. My emotions were all over the place!

It's terrifying and addicting.

I had to force myself to stop reading last night. I've had an incredibly busy day, and it's made me totally grouchy because all I could think about was getting back to this book.

Any of you who know me, and have read my reviews for awhile, know I'm not one to gush...but I am so gushing right now.

Just do yourself a favor and read it.
Available July 28, 2020

**Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy.
Profile Image for Deanna .
687 reviews12.5k followers
August 17, 2020

A fantastic and thought-provoking domestic suspense novel!!

I started off reading this novel but switched over to the audiobook a few chapters in as I wanted to get a few things done around the house. I found the beginning of the book a little hard to get into, but honestly, it wasn't long before I was completely HOOKED!

This book had me feeling all kinds of emotions. I don't normally think about jumping ahead with books, but at times I was so anxious that I contemplated skipping chapters to see how it ended. I resisted the urge though.

The scary thing is that a lot of what happens in this book could really happen. It's terrifying being a parent at the best of times, but I can't even imagine going through the things these characters went through.

I normally take notes when I read or put stickies on different parts of a book I want to remember for my reviews. With audiobooks, I'm still figuring things out. And with this book, I couldn't stop listening long enough to write anything down.

An exciting, intense, and intelligent novel that I highly recommend!

I've enjoyed all this author's previous novels, but this is definitely my favorite. I'm really excited to see what J.P. Delaney writes next!

July 28, 2020

Playing nice is not something Miles Lambert has ever even tried to be good at. Mid-way through the book we will find out just how manipulating and forceful he can be.

Pete and Maggie have been raising a son, Theo, for two years, loving him, teaching him to learn and to “play nice” with his friends. Theo is a great little boy, energetic and intelligent but has been having trouble at nursery school with sharing and learning how to play with others. He was very premature and so there was a long period when Pete and Maggie had to stay in the hospital while Theo was in the NICU. This was very difficult for both of them, although Pete seemed to handle it very well. He quickly learned how to comfort and love Theo. Maggie had more problems, especially when Pete was away. They were just getting to feel confident in how things were going with their relationship and with their son.

It was “just an ordinary day in Willesden Green, north London” and Pete was dropping Theo off at his nursery school. Pete noticed a “ trio of people, a woman and two men, on the other side of the road watching us.” By their dress he assumed that they were possibly looking in the area for child care sites. Back home while Pete was making some coffee and spending time online with fellow “stay at home dads”, the doorbell rang.

This would be the changing point of the entire book and the story of two sets of parents and two little boys who it becomes known were allegedly switched at birth. Miles Lambert is the person on Pete’s doorstep and he has come to tell him that Theo is actually his son and that Pete’s son has been living with Miles and his wife Lucy. There is a third person involved, Don Maguire, the Lambert’s lawyer, because they have already begun proceedings to sue the hospital for the mix-up and had taken a cup used by Theo and tested his DNA, he is definitely Miles’ son.

What begins as a “civil” decision to make it possible for the parents and children to get to know each other quickly escalates into an impossible situation.

Miles Lambert will settle for only one thing, getting Theo back. He begins to show up at Pete’s house at all hours insisting on seeing Theo. He gives him gifts which are usually inappropriate and even goes so far as to offer up a scholarship to the college he attended.

Lucy and Maggie quickly become concerned at what will happen next. Lucy knows how volatile and demanding Miles is and Maggie has her own way of “reading” him and knows that the solution to this situation will not be an easy one.

This is the third book I have read by this author and definitely my favorite. I enjoyed the character development and how the atmosphere in the book changed from amicable to diabolical by the end of the book. What really wrapped this up for me was the great ending, of which I won’t speak a word!!

If you enjoy a great character driven thriller, this is the book for you.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Virginie Roy.
Author 2 books624 followers
February 6, 2021
First 5-star read of 2021! 🏆This book was unputdownable... A roller-coaster of emotions from page 1 to page 400!

What if you found out your 2-year-old son wasn't your genetic son? What if he had been switched at birth?

Believe me, I don't get so enthusiastic often. I couldn't rave enough about this book, so let me go straight to the point: if you enjoy domestic thrillers, read it. If you're ready to be confronted to ethical questions and to feel strong emotions (positive and negative as well), read it.

Delaney's books are all very good, but this one is my favorite so far. I just can't wait to see which theme he's going to chose for his next book.

If it's not already done, you can now add this book to your neverending TBR. 😉 Happy reading!
Profile Image for Debra .
2,415 reviews35.2k followers
August 7, 2020
Talk about domestic suspense which turns into a psychological thriller!


What a nightmare! Pete Riley unknowing opens the door one and has everything turned upside down. Miles Lambert and his attorney inform Pete that his and Maggie's two-year-old son, Theo is not actually their son. That there was a a mix up at the hospital and that Pete and Maggie brought home, Miles and Lucy Lambert's son and they in turn took home, Pete and Maggie's, son who is named David. The Lambert's are suing the hospital and naturally want to get to know Theo, who is a rambunctious boy who gets in trouble at school for not getting along with other children, while David has developmental delays.

Whew! Two babies switched at birth. Two sets of parents. Love, nature vs nurture, family, the law, betrayal, mental illness, protecting your child, secrets and abuse. This was a compelling read from the very first chapters. How many times have we seen, read, watched switched at birth stories but J.P. Delaney made sure to not make this one cliched. I was glued to the pages and found this to be an absorbing and quick read. The characters are interesting, flawed, well-formed and I am not going to say much else.

This was a very enjoyable read that had twists, turns, revelations and bits to chew on. This had me thinking about the plot well after I finished it. This is a thought-provoking book that was another solid read by J.P. Delaney.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,126 reviews3,709 followers
September 1, 2020
The premise of this book quickly got my attention. Having read the previous book by this author “The perfect wife,” I knew this was a must for me!

Pete Riley answers a knock at his door to find his life won’t ever be the same! (This is exactly why I never answer the door). On the other side of the door is Miles Lambert, exuding an air of confidence, teetering on downright arrogance. Miles has some rather interesting news to share with Pete. The child Pete has raised from birth actually belongs to him. There was a mistake made at the hospital! What!? Are you serious? Then what about the other baby?

This was a fun, light thriller that’ll make you cringe at the thought of this actually happening! The book sites other cases, though I’m not sure if that was part of the fictional tale. I have yet to seek out the all- knowing, all-powerful google!

The only gripe I had was with the naiveté of Pete. Personally, I’d be speed-dialing my lawyer before the visitor took his second step into my house. (While also dispensing a serious dose of Mace!) But that’s just me!💁🏻‍♀️

An enjoyable read, though The Perfect Wife is still my favorite!

A fun buddy read with Susanne!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for an ARC to read and review
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,708 reviews25k followers
June 10, 2020
JP Delaney's latest offering is a tense and riveting blend of family drama and psychological thriller that explores the emotionally charged feelings and complexities of the dilemma faced by parents in London, making the shocking discovery that their two year old toddler son is not their child, he was mixed up with their actual biological baby at the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital. Stay at home dad, journalist Pete Riley and his long term partner working in advertising, Maddie, are bringing up their son, Theo, a veritable ball of energy and a real handful, trying to get him to play nice, to share and interact more positively with others, areas he has difficulties with. Their life is derailed when Miles Lambert turns up at their door, informing them that Theo is his and wife, Lucy's son.

A secretly carried out DNA test bears this out, not to mention the fact that Theo bears such a strong physical resemblance to Miles. The Lamberts are bringing legal proceedings against the hospital, which triggers an official investigation into what happened there. Initially matters are cordial as Pete and Maddie agree to the well intentioned and understanding civil decision for both couples and the children to get acquainted with and getting to know each other better. The couples are markedly different from each other, the Lamberts are wealthy, Pete and Maddie are more ordinary, struggling to make ends meet. Maddie feels a strong connection to David, her brain damaged son that the Lamberts have raised, a David that will need life long care. However, as it becomes clearer that the psychopathic Miles has every intention of getting hold of Theo, by any means, matters spiral into a living hell for Pete and Maddie.

Delaney's character driven novel is markedly different from his previous books, it is a compulsive read that explores the age old debate of nature versus nurture and the family dynamics that ensue upon facing the emotional quagmire of raising a child that apparently turns out to be not biologically their own. The characters are suitably flawed, whilst Miles is utterly reprehensible as a human being in this story of twists and turns. A fascinating roller coaster of a read that touches on mental health issues, what it is to be a parent, deception, secrets, legal issues, abuse and murder. Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
465 reviews1,114 followers
July 28, 2020
Happy publication day (28th July) to this unsettling gem!

A gripping, unsettling, well written and researched psychological thriller!

What would you do if you found out that your child was not your child?
How far would you go to protect your family?

Pete and Maddie find out that their two year old son, is not their son, that they took the wrong baby home from the hospital, after a mix up in the NICU. At first, both families seem to have the best intentions, but what happens when they stop 'playing nice?'

Wow this book had me gripped, and in an emotional state for the whole time! It was like something from one of my worst nightmares! Playing Nice built up tension slowly with it's tense atmosphere, and it kept me in an almost constant state of anxiety! Seriously, I was biting my nails, my hands were shaking, and I had an uneasy, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach the whole time! I was so stressed! Nevertheless, I couldn't stop reading this addictive and unpredictable book, and I needed to know the final outcome!

I enjoyed that we had Maddie and Pete's POV, but not Miles and Lucy's, the other couple involved, as it added tension, and made me question everything! There was also evidence from court, which added to the story.

J.P. Delaney wrote incredibly flawed characters, who all had their fair share of disturbing secrets! Mental illness, lies, betrayal, gender roles in parenting, nature vs nurture, and what is the best interest of the child were explored. I was shocked and terrified by how quickly events escalated legally into a nightmare!

I'm not sure I could say that I enjoyed this book, but it certainly had an impact on me! I spent a lot of time gasping, and shouting at my kindle in a shocked, angry and hateful manner! I will definitely be thinking about this tale, and holding my babies a little bit tighter for a while!

This was my first J.P. Delaney book, but it definitely wont be my last! I own The Perfect Wife but what other ones are good?!

Published on 28th July 2020, grab yourself a copy!

Many thanks to Quercus and NetGalley UK for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Farrah.
221 reviews606 followers
August 12, 2020
A super enjoyable book that blended a few different genres.

I found the writing really convincing.
How terrifying it must be for people caught in the system!

The ending merged all the different parts of the story in a way that was consistent with the rest of the book - more sincere, rather than excessively over the top.
May 3, 2020
Most of us would do anything for our family, especially our children. But imagine finding out your 2-year-old isn’t your biological child? That during an emergency in the NICU there was a mix-up at birth?

This is the dilemma facing Maddie and Pete. In the beginning, everyone is playing nice as they attempt to work out an amicable arrangement. Both sets of parents appear to want what’s best for the children. It’s difficult to say much without giving away key plot points, but as you would expect, there are ulterior motives and not everything is as it seems. How far would you go to protect your child?

To make matters more complicated, one family is wealthy while the other is not. One family has a healthy child, while the other child has significant developmental delays. Parenting styles are different and the age old question of nature vs nurture is explored. The characters are well-developed and I found myself questioning everyone. Who to trust when everyone involved is harboring secrets?

The plot sounds cliché with a story line that has been done to death. However, in this author’s hands, this story is so much more. I particularly enjoy a story line that delves into psychological issues, and this book has that, and more. This is an excellent character-driven story with an engaging plot that leaves the reader with much to ponder, although for thriller fans, no worries. There are plenty of surprises in store. And that ending! Don’t forget to read the author’s note in the afterword.

Marialyce and I were looking for an engaging read while we are sheltering-in-place and this provided a much welcomed escape!

• I received a digital copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest
• Publication date of July 2020 by Random House, Ballantine
• This was a buddy read with my friend Marialyce. For our duo reviews please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
Profile Image for Ceecee.
2,078 reviews1,658 followers
May 27, 2020
For Pete Riley, freelance journalist and stay at home dad and partner Maddie who works in advertising, it’s just an ordinary day getting their boisterous son two year old Theo ready to go to nursery. Theo has difficulty ‘playing nice’ if he’s doesn’t get what he wants. Then their world is turned upside down, so much so it’s like they’ve fallen into some alternate universe following something as everyday as a knock at their door. Standing there is smugly arrogant, wealthy Miles Lambert who claims that their premature babies are swapped in the NICU and that Theo is his son and David, who he and wife Lucy have been raising is theirs. What starts as something friendly in order to sort this out, descends into a dangerous court battle with Miles having no intention of playing nice. The story is told in alternating perspectives by Pete and Maddy which works extremely well and is interspersed with evidence gathered for the court case.

This is addictive, brilliant, compulsive and gripping reading. Although none of the characters are perfect (who is?) I did like Pete and Maddy with Maddy in particular being honest about her feelings. If ever a character deserves a sock on the jaw it’s Miles. He made me so angry at times my fists clenched and the odd naughty word might have popped out of my mouth! Oh boy is he odious. Theo is, shall we settle for a live wire? He presents us with a good discussion on nature versus nurture, is he indeed like his biological father or can nurture reduce some of his less desirable instincts? This is a fascinating part of the story which is engrossing from start to finish. There are bombshells, shocks and twists along the way which make you gasp and there’s so much tension at times, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. I think the end is clever too and works extremely well.

Overall, J P Delaney has done it again. The Perfect Wife was a brilliant read in 2019 and he’s provided us with another in 2020! The premise is fantastic, it preys on every parents nightmare and fears and keeps you interested and invested throughout. This is without doubt a best seller. Highly recommended.

Big thanks to NetGalley and Quercus Books for the ARC and to the author for the entertainment!
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,234 followers
July 23, 2021
I couldn't put it down. Believe the hype.
Profile Image for ScrappyMags.
597 reviews256 followers
July 28, 2020
Guess what? Your son is not your son. He was switched at birth. But we want to work all this out amicably, k?”

Yeah... 😏 That’s my synopsis.

If you’re like me, you’d be like, “What the whaaaaaaat?” Yup, Pete and Maddie are living this. The Lamberts enter the picture, delivering the news that they are the biological parents of Theo while Pete and Maddie’s biological child is THEIR child David. (Head scramble). Pete and Maddie are then thrust into a bizarre situation, navigating unknown parental terrain as they sue the hospital that did this and try to adjust to this shocking, life-altering news, working along with the Lamberts because that’s in everyone’s best interest right? (Right?) But are the Lamberts the kind couple they project or is there something more sinister afoot? What secrets might be uncovered as their worlds are shaken to the core?

My thoughts: SUMMER HIT! This is the one I couldn’t put down. It made me angry, sad, scared, surprised... allllll the feels and I’m kid-free and it still punched me in the gut. The plot
is so cliche but Delaney adeptly adds the unexpected making for an amazing summer thriller. Had I merely read the description, I might have thought “meh”. Don’t do that! This is one you can’t and won’t put down!

All my reviews available at scrappymags.com at time of publication.

Genre: Domestic thriller/ Domestic Fiction

Recommend to: Beach reads, Fast reads, this best fits the “domestic thriller” genre.

Not recommended to: obvi - if you aren’t into the domestic stuff, avoid.

Thank you to the author J.P. Delaney, Random House Ballantine and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for making me miss all my favorite TV shows as I just COULD NOT STOP READING! 😂
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
August 6, 2020
A Dilemma of Epic Proportions: Finding out the Son You’ve been Raising is Not Yours and that he was Switched at Birth!

That is the situation faced by Pete Riley and his wife Maddie in JP Delaney’s “Playing Nice” when Miles Lambert shows up on their doorstep and shatters everything. Miles and his wife Lucy have been raising David for two years and who they recently discovered was not theirs. After hiring a PI, they found out that the Riley’s were raising their biological child, Theo. Initially, both families try to work together to salvage things and form a relationship

Unfortunately for the Rileys, Miles Lambert has other ideas and the gloves quickly come off!

These circumstances are hard to imagine and yet they have happened in real life! This thrilling suspense terrified me and also really got me thinking. What I truly appreciated is that this storyline provided lots of discussion between my book buddy Kaceey and I. While I enjoyed the novel admittedly, I found it to be a bit far fetched which is the sole reason for the lower rating. That said, on the whole I enjoyed this mystery/suspense and would recommend this tense read to everyone looking for a captivating thriller. 3.5 Stars.

This was a buddy read with Kaceey!

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and JP Delaney for the arc.

Published on Goodreads on 8.5.20.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,449 reviews1,086 followers
December 3, 2020
3.5 stars

If you want to feel visceral frustration and anger towards almost every single secondary character's actions then this is the book for you. Very early on in the story Pete and Maddie find out that their son Theo was switched at birth (it's in the blurb) and then spend the rest of the time handling that situation. Which goes terribly wrong like 99.9% of the time with almost everyone set against them. After a while you just kept wondering what else could possibly go wrong, and then yet another thing would happen. It definitely set an anxious/ominous tone, but at the same time it got to be a little overboard towards the end.

However, where things really went wrong for me was how the 'real son' of Pete and Maddie was handled in the book. He is almost completely ignored in the story, and I just felt that was really unrealistic. If I just found out I had a biological child out there somewhere and that the child I thought was mine wasn't actually mine, I would be EQUALLY distraught about both children. Because both children would feel like mine. I would want to know everything about my 'real' child. Instead we just get a book completely focused on Theo.

And then there is the ending, which felt very drawn out and even more unrealistic in how it was solved and resolved.

I still spent most of the book on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next, so I rounded it up to 4 stars despite my reservations regarding the plot.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,141 reviews2,757 followers
June 14, 2020
4.5 stars, rounded up
The book’s blurb describes this as a parent’s worst nightmare and I think it’s probably true. What if you found out your child wasn’t your child? One afternoon, Pete opens the door to Miles and his lawyer. Miles has discovered that an accidental switch at the NICU has left each family with the other’s child. Playing Nice is very aptly named. The parents start off all agreeable and on the same wavelength. But it doesn’t take long for cracks to appear.
This book raises all sorts of delicious questions and dilemmas. Nature or nurture? What is in the best interest of the child? How much say should the biological parents have in certain decisions? Delaney’s books are always based on ethical quandaries, this most of all.
As the book goes on, the thriller aspect takes over and it becomes quite dark. It had me on the edge of my seat. A character in another book talked about the creepy crawly feeling of anxiety. That is exactly what this book gives you! It’s terrifying and sad because you can just see how it could all play out as written.
I also found it profoundly interesting that the current political climate played into Delaney’s reasons for writing this book. That he wanted to write “about two ordinary people who try to resolve a near impossible situation through dialogue and compromise…”
I’ve read all of Delaney’s books, but this is by far his best.
My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
530 reviews1,349 followers
September 6, 2020
4 stars

Swapping babies at birth has always been a huge fear of mine. I remember when I was young I used to ask my mother, “how could anyone know that they took the right baby home? I mean, what if something happened and your baby was swapped with another one?” She looked at me and said, “Oh things like that never happen!”

I guess that was a motherly denial as for her something like that was unimaginable, she couldn’t even think it’s a possibility. That’s why reading this book was an intense stressful unimaginable experience. Because it’s too scary to think about something like that. The book was so gripping even though the thrilling aspect of it wasn’t so strong, but the main idea of the book was enough to creat a stressful read.

I drove myself crazy thinking what would anyone do if they were in a similar situation. As soon as I finished the book I asked everyone I know, because what’s supposed to be the right answer for something like that? I’m curious to know everyone’s answer. What should anyone do? Would you chose to keep the baby you took home and raised or the one you gave birth to?
Profile Image for Oscar.
256 reviews98 followers
July 31, 2020
This book fucked me up so good I’m not even laughing. All the emotions and thrills are worth it. All the overwhelming hype surrounding JP Delaney’s Playing Nice are real and well deserved. No wasted moment. Right from the very beginning, I was invested and gripped with the whole story’s dilemma. Yes I know it could be slow at certain parts but reading a complex story about characters, you loved and got frustrated with, is just a magnificent time.

It’s almost 5 in the morning! Oh my.
Profile Image for DeAnn.
1,357 reviews
July 28, 2020
5 Holy Cow Stars

This was one mind-spinning book and my first from J.P. Delaney. I found it compulsively readable and quite the page-turner! I read it in two sittings, I just had to get to the end! The premise is a fascinating one – how would you feel if someone showed up on your doorstep one morning and told you that you brought the wrong baby home from the hospital two years ago?

The gentleman on the doorstep is Miles Lambert, and he and his wife Lucy want to amicably work through things, get to know each other. Or so it would seem . . .

Pete and his partner Maddie are still in shock that Theo is not their son, he is not the easiest child to raise, but after two years, he is an integral part of their lives. Pete stays home with him and tries to work on teaching Theo to share. This book brings up some interesting notions of nurture vs. nature and made me ponder this a bit more.

Turns out that Miles is a slick operator with money in his pockets for lawyers to sue the hospital. Things take a turn for the worse when skeletons come out of the closet and Pete and Maddie realize they are in for the fight of their lives. I was anxious as this one came to its powerhouse conclusion. I definitely recommend this one!

Thank you to J.P. Delaney, NetGalley, and Random House/Ballantine for an early copy of this one to read in return for an honest review. I predict a summer blockbuster! This one is now available!
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
527 reviews262 followers
October 30, 2020
This was my favorite Delaney book, hands down! His writing has definitely improved since his earlier works and this novel had a little bit of everything. I went into this one with the impression that it would be a domestic drama, and in fact but off reading it for 3 months on account of that impression, but i'm incredibly thankful I decided to give this one a chance for my final October read! The custody battle, the psychopathy of Miles, the occasional unreliable narrator, and many many twists and turns this story took me through only to culminate in a fantastic ending...what a novel this was indeed!! This was a great overall drama/suspense/thriller that I believe will be considered by many more than just me as his best release yet!
Profile Image for Marialyce (on our way to Venice).
2,038 reviews710 followers
June 4, 2020
Everyone makes mistakes. We all go through life making simple mistakes and also those that were not so simple. Although in most cases a mistake does not change the course of your life.

When a knock comes to the door at the home of Pete Riley and his partner Maddie, a mistake is revealed that will change their lives. For behind that knock is Miles Lambert bearing the news that the baby Pete and Maddie thought was theirs is not theirs at all. The hospital made a mistake and switched babies and now the child living in Miles's home is the blood child of Pete and Maddie and the child living in Miles and Maddie's home is really the son of Miles and his wife, Lucy. How could this be, and yet it turns out to be true. A nightmare really, but the parents decide to keep the status quo, letting each child stay where they now reside. So civilized, so understanding, so accepting they are!

However soon things crop up that challenge that ever so civilized understanding. There are discrepancies between the families. Pete and Maddie struggle making ends meet while Miles and his wife are wealthy. The babies also are markedly different. Theo is an active child, headstrong and showing signs that are concerning in his behavior while David, deprived of oxygen at birth, is brain damaged.

As the tale continues, we see the four characters play out one against the other and as we delve more into their personalities we find very troubling details that threaten the very being of both the children and the couples involved.

Told with an open eye towards the various stages of psychopathy, this book delved into an area we often find fascinating as some professionals say that one out of every four people is a psychopath or has psychopathic tendencies. Certainly this character study of the protagonists, particularly the men was fascinating and will keep you riveted to the story. I definitely recommend this one for it provides an engrossing read and one that certainly will divert you from the craziness of today's world.

Thank you to J.P. Delaney, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and NetGalley for a copy of this book due out on July 28, 2020.

Looking once again for a take me away from the craziness happening in our lives, Jan and I decided to read J.P. Delaney's new book Playing Nice. It provided just the diversion we were looking for and gave us many hours of riveting reading.
To see our duo reviews: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews596 followers
September 10, 2020
Audiobook... narrated by Ben Elliot, Amelia Cormack, Peter Forbes

I was in the mood for a psychological thriller... and picked this one based on the high ratings from the Goodreads community...
pegged as “one of the good ones”....
It was good - but exceptional? I wouldn’t go that far.

Things are so strange these days in my community - the sky is sooooo ugly filthy and dark ( ashes from fires)...that it looks we are living on Mars...
The apocalyptic life has arrived....
while listening to this book - during a depressing walk-later during a pool soak ( less depressing - but still creepy as can be outside)....about switched births-
I found myself LAUGHING .... ...
.....[tension release]...
At scenes like this:
Miles: “Did you read my email?”
Pete: “Yes, well, the first few lines anyway. It was rather long actually”.
Miles: Hangs up the phone angry after basically telling Pete to f#ck off.

I found the dialogue between the adults funny as can be throughout this book.
But.... don’t mind me...
my mind is warped.... victimized from the air quality here in San Jose.

So....All I could do was laugh....( not at the two - two year old toddlers)..but at their parents.

“Playing Nice”, was suspense interesting- not thriller scary-
It was FUNNY....with characters that were whining weenies.
Lucy was kinda sweet & charming....
Pete, Miles, and Maddie could use a makeover.

As a comical psychopathic behavior-study ...”Playing Nice”.....
was a successful play-date connection.

Profile Image for Mark.
1,200 reviews
July 21, 2020
How do I review this book and do it justice? I will try....

Pete and Maddie have a good life with their 2 year old son Theo
All is fine and dandy
Until one afternoon Peter opens the door to Miles, and his solicitor, who inform him that their children, Theo and David, were swopped at birth....and here is the DNA proof
Talk about a bombshell
It’s hard to describe how utterly compelling the next 400 pages are suffice to say your emotions and feelings will be churned and flung around as you discover at first the depths one of the 4 will go to to get what they want from the situation, this then changing to ‘what depths all 4 will go to’ as the book goes on
It’s fair to say I read a lot and it’s unusual for me to shout in frustration at a situation, this book made me, its so intensely done it really gets to you ( in a good way)
It’s brilliant, the whole thing, the characters, the atmosphere, the writing, the interesting factual side to what has happened ( past cases etc ) and the way the investigation into what has happened are told in such a way it keeps you entranced with every word
Expect a roller coaster and a feverish excited tense and amazing read right till the last full stop
5 Big Stars
Profile Image for Javier.
816 reviews210 followers
November 7, 2020
Who would have guessed that a story about swapped babies could be so gripping and compelling! While the premise could seem a bit trite, it's written in such a fantastic way that I found myself glued to the pages. I think my anxiety levels went through the roof at some points. I could feel the blood boiling in my veins as all the misfortunes happened to Pete and Maddie. I neither confirm nor deny that I maybe shouted at my kindle more than once.

I found very interesting the nature vs. nurture debate the book presents. I also loved how it's not a story about good people vs. bad people (well, one of them it's pretty bad) but pretty much all the characters are flawed and maybe, thanks to that, they're easily relatable.

This was a brilliant and terrifying read. I've only read one of the author's previous books but, if they're all as riveting as this one, I will have to check them out.

4,5⭐️ (I seem to be on a streak of 4,5-5⭐️ books. Fingers crossed to make it last!)

Thanks to Netgalley and Quercus Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,299 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.