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Pretty Little Wife

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Debut author Darby Kane thrills with this twisty domestic suspense novel that asks one central question: shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

403 pages, Paperback

First published December 29, 2020

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About the author

Darby Kane

5 books1,083 followers
Darby Kane is the pseudonym of HelenKay Dimon a former trial attorney and current award-winning romantic suspense author. A native of Pennsylvania, Darby now lives in California and runs from the cold. When she’s not writing she can be found watching suspense, thrillers, and mysteries.

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5 stars
14,435 (26%)
4 stars
25,306 (46%)
3 stars
11,985 (22%)
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1 star
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,628 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
November 14, 2022
This is such a brilliant, mind crushing, moving, surprising debut!

Characters are flawed, inaccurate, complex, realistically portrayed and eventually you may find a way to connect with them. Especially the quirky, unique but also stone-faced, tough, determined heroine Lila Ridgefield. She seems like small college town resident, ex lawyer, a brand new, competitive real estate agent, always stylish, looking good, happily married with her charming teacher husband Aaron.

But as you may guess, nothing as it seems. In the beginning of the story, she finds her husband’s secret stashes including another phone( he didn’t even think hard to use another pin, what a moron!) and he is also idiot enough to keep the intimate videos he shot with the girls as he was “playing doctor”!

Yes, ewww! The year of the husband tries to convince his wifey that was just a prank!
And later we learn this husband dearest is missing and an investigation team tries to find out what happened to him.

Lila is also shocked because she is the last one who saw him. And she might have done something to her husband the pervert! But the real problem if there is no dead body found, that means she couldn’t accomplish her mission and her husband the jackass may be out somewhere to plan his revenge.

Aaron’s brother Jared and Lila’s lawyer/ ex colleague Tobias are her side as the investigation team targets her and brings out the skeletons she perfectly hid in her closet.

Yes, she has changed her name for a really important reason. But can the reason to make a fresh start be connected with her husband’s disappearance?

And there’s also a popular crime podcast informs people there are also three missing girls out there and there may be a slightest chance those cases may be also connected with Aaron’s disappearance!

Unfortunately all eyes on Lila: she may be lynched or shunned by small town residents who truly believe the purity and sweetness of Aaron the perfectly punchable face!

I stop right here but I have to tell you: there are so many jaw dropping twists, unexpected, riveting turns and WTH moments of the book so keep on reading! I know you’re gonna love it so much just like I did!

Lila was smart, badass, empowered, unique, logical character. She seems like a victim of her own choices but she’s strong enough to survive and choose another path. I don’t think she reminds me of Jane Doe- another badass, dangerous character- because firstly she’s not sociopath and she can feel deeply but she knows how to control her feelings and never let them cloud her judgment.

Overall: Connectable heroine, balanced and intriguing pace and twisty finale earned 4.5 stars from me and I’m happily rounding them up to 5 blazing, mysterious stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers/ William Morrow Paperbacks for sharing this incredible Arc with me in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
401 reviews3,491 followers
February 14, 2023
10/10 Storytelling....Wow! What a debut novel!

Lila discovers what a swine her husband really is, but never fear. Lila has an in-depth plan to get rid of her husband, Aaron. Only nothing is going to plan. Why isn't Aaron where she left him?

Pretty Little Wife was quite a page turner, and it was told across various short chapters with flashbacks to prior time periods. This format was flawlessly executed to the extent that I was shocked to discover that this is Darby Kane's debut novel. If this is Kane's first try, I can't wait to see what the future has in store!

Overall, pick up this book if you loved Gone Girl. PS The audiobook was amazing!

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews19.8k followers
May 4, 2022
His gaze held hers as his mouth twisted in hate. "You did something to him."
Ah yes, I always know when I'm in the midst of a domestic thriller: everyone acts extremely guilty even when innocent, every small word and action is blown out of proportion, and accusing each other of murder is the neighborhood hobby.

Welcome to Ithaca, New York, the bucolic college town where Lila and Aaron have been living for the past several years. When Aaron goes missing, the spotlight naturally falls on Lila. Is she guilty, or is she just the Pretty Little Wife that has been wrongly accused? With everyone guarding their own secrets, it's hard to tell where the lies end and the truth begins.

This was an easy and fast read for me. The plot was outrageous and it unfolded with plenty of salacious twists and tidbits, keeping me riveted and turning the pages. I found it well-paced for the most part, with plenty of forward momentum that did not let up until the very end.

But domestic thrillers is a well-trodden area, and it didn't feel like this story brought anything new to the table. It's definitely overwritten in the way that is true to the genre, with lots of eye-rolling moments when emotions and paranoia take over. The scent of guilt deftly surrounds every character. And the police are plenty tenacious, and no amount of evidence or lack thereof will throw them off the scent of spousal wrongdoing.

Still, it was a fun and mindless way to spend a few hours. I wouldn't say this surprised me at any point, but it was a steady stream of entertainment from beginning to end, and fans of domestic thrillers will surely very much enjoy it.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,109 reviews2,793 followers
December 29, 2020
Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Books with an unlikeable main character aren't my favorite but this story did a great job of grabbing and hanging on to my interest. Lila Ridgefield, with great preparation and planning, has killed her husband, Aaron, and parked his body and SUV in a field near the school where he taught. She planted his vile sexual videos in the car so people will know that her well liked husband was a horrible predator. But, no one finds the car and the body because both have gone missing. Was her husband not really dead? If not, Lila is in a massive amount of trouble because her husband will be coming after her. Also, since he's missing and no one knows of his preying on young women, Lila is the prime suspect in her "perfect" husband being missing and presumed dead. 

There is a local crime podcast that has been focusing on several missing young women who might be victims of a serial killer. Now that Lila's husband is missing, the podcast is featuring his disappearance, also. Secrets are going to come out. Both Lila and Aaron came from backgrounds involving murder and tragic deaths and those backgrounds are what brought them together. Not love, but a sense of safety between two badly damaged people who will never know feelings like normal, healthy people. But their marriage of a strange kind of convenience is getting old to both of them, to Aaron because Lila is finished acting like a trophy wife and to Lila because she's tired of bowing down to Aaron's dogmatic ways. 

Ginny is the lead detective on the trail of Lila and she doesn't miss a beat. Ginny is Lila's biggest obstacle to coming through this situation without being blamed for Aaron's disappearance/murder. Lila is an unreliable narrator but she has her reasons for everything that she does. In the end, I figured out of a lot of what was going on but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. It's all in the devious planning and plotting that the story holds my interest. I may not like Lila but I do admire her. And I'm definitely in the corner of a strong, smart, savvy detective like Ginny. 

Publication date: December 29, 2020

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers/William Morrow Paperbacks and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
539 reviews619 followers
November 18, 2020
She was the perfect wife....pretty, perfect and smart. She did everything that her equally handsome husband Aaron asked of her. She quit her job as a lawyer, she rarely worked her real estate deals, so she could stay home and be the perfect little pretty wife..she always did what Aaron told her to do..except the day she murdered him....😳

Lila was a clever girl, with an ice cold demeanor, she could pull off most anything, probably even murder. 😬That is what she thought, until her husband's body disappeared! Wait, what??! Was he really dead or did she mistakenly not finish what she started??? That is the question...🤔

Well this was one wicked little story. I must say I felt some Gone Girl vibes...yet it was more like Gone Dude vibes...I kept wondering what was real. Twisted on so many levels, this kept me up late into the night. A really quick easy read that will have you wondering...how does a dead man go missing???🤷‍♀️😳
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
204 reviews781 followers
January 3, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

4.5 stars

Holy smokes, that was good!

Pretty Little Wife, Darby Kane’s thrilling novel of domestic suspense, has kicked off my 2021 with a bang. A very loud, kick-the-door-down kind of bang. A bang that will be ringing in my ears for quite some time, unable to be forgotten.

Lila Ridgefield is the quintessential pretty little wife. Married to Aaron, a beloved high school teacher in Ithaca, her life is enviable to those on the outside. But life is not always as wonderful as it seems, of course, and when Aaron suddenly vanishes, the town is thrown into a frenzy.

Because Aaron’s disappearance is not the first in Ithaca. His is only the most recent in a string of three women who have mysteriously vanished over the last few years. With the public demanding answers, the police are scrambling to find a link – if one even exists.

The one person not seemingly worried about Aaron? Lila – his pretty little wife.

But you see, she is worried. Only for a different reason. For not only is Lila the last person to see Aaron alive – she is also the last person to see him dead. And now, his body is no longer where she left it.

Oh, what a tangled, dark, and contorted web Kane has weaved inside the pages of Pretty Little Wife. And the web begins with one of the most gripping opening scenes in a suspense novel that I have ever read.

Seriously. I write this with the utmost sincerity. The novel’s initial chapter is one of the best I have ever come across. It leaves you completely breathless because it’s written so amazingly well. Within a span of a few sentences, Kane instantly drops you into the midst of Lila’s complex mind, and then she takes off running at top speed, leaving you flailing behind.

The novel is intense, exciting, and smart. There is never a dull moment, and the pages turn at an astonishing rate because it is nearly impossible to put the book down.

And the story will keep you on your toes. It is tightly written and seamlessly plotted, and there are unexpected twists and fun red herrings galore, making it so I never felt confident in any of my arm-chair theories. Even when I finally did put the correct pieces into place, I continued to waffle back and forth . . . and back and forth. . . and then, back and forth again, due to Kane’s superb skills of misdirection.

Pretty Little Wife, however, would not be the exceptional novel that it is without Lila. She is enigmatic and fascinating. Extremely intelligent and resourceful. Focused and strong. My personal feelings for her ran the gamut while I read the novel, as she is so complex. But ultimately, I always liked her, and I couldn’t stop myself from rooting for her, regardless of her cool demeanor, misdeeds, and questionable morals.

In fact, I enjoyed all the women in the novel. Kane injects every one of her female characters with a cleverness, a fierceness, and a formidableness that is not consistently seen in this genre.

And had it not been for a slightly too-quick final showdown that contained one or two implausible actions of the characters, I would have awarded Pretty Little Wife a full five stars.

Because it’s that addictive. It’s that compelling. It’s that excellent.

Do not miss it.

My sincerest appreciation to William Morrow and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.

*This was a fun buddy read with a few of the lovely ladies from The Traveling Sisters. Thank you for allowing me to join you. I enjoyed our lively discussion.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for Michael David (on hiatus).
625 reviews1,536 followers
December 29, 2020
HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to one of my favorite books of 2020!!

5 stars for this perfectly-plotted, unputdownable thriller!

Lila Ridgefield seems to have it all. She’s married to Aaron, a high school teacher, works whenever she wants as a real estate agent, and is always impeccably dressed.

Things are definitely not always as they seem. Beneath the facade of a perfect life, Lila learns something very disturbing about Aaron. Things take a turn for the worse when he goes missing...but how is that possible? Lila left his body where she knew it would be found...

With detectives on the case, a local podcast discussing missing women that eventually starts discussing Aaron, threatening messages being left for Lila...she really needs to get to the bottom of what is going on and figure out what happened to Aaron’s body.

I am shooketh...totally surprised by how much I loved this tale. It has everything you need in a mysteriously suspenseful thriller: possibly unreliable narrator, perfect pace, questionable characters that are WAY more than meets the eye. There is not one thing I’d change about this one. While I suspected one of the twists, I didn’t see the rest coming. I was completely engrossed all the way to the ending, which had more than one “Holy Shit” moment!

And don’t get me started on the fantastically written character, Lila. She’s so complex and awesome! Totally fleshed out.

Darby Kane is a pseudonym for a romantic suspense author. This is her first foray into different territory. If I have my say, we will all know her name and know this book by the time it comes out 12/29/20.

Thank you to William Morrow, Darby Kane, and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
504 reviews249 followers
December 8, 2020
Hmmm. How this was November's BOTM selection is kind of baffling to me. It was an average suspense/thriller, at best. Nothing bad about it don't get me wrong.. but, nothing stood out and made me love it either. Maybe it was the writing style (not written in first person), which made it hard for me to connect with our protagonists, and I also found it hard to keep the characters straight at times, and there weren't even that many!!
At the beginning of this story we meet Lila Ridgefield, who is unhappily married to Aaron. In the initial chapters we find Lila as she's digging through her husbands personal, hidden belongings, only to find a cell phone she knew nothing about! Just as Lila starts nosing through the cell phone she uncovers a horrific video that depicts her husband in a less than favorable light! She's slowly realizing she has no idea who the man is she married when he arrives home from work early and catches her in the act! After this, we jump forward in time and Aaron is knowingly dead to us (and Lila), but is missing to everyone else. Did Lila kill him because she discovered she'd married a monster? Or did Aaron just take off? When Lila is told by police her husband is not in fact where she last placed him the mystery begins! What happened to Aaron Ridgefield??
Throughout my reading experience I had side characters Jared and Ryan confused on multiple occasions, even through the last chapter! When that happens and there are not a ton of characters to keep straight to begin with, it usually means I'm either not that invested in the book but want to finish it, or is it the author just not doing a good enough job at creating unique characters that are easy to distinguish? Whatever the reason, I was incredibly confused by the male characters pretty much up until the end. The 'reveal' of the bad guy didn't surprise me for the most part, but then in another way it did because I was trying to remember what relationship this specific character had with our protagonist, that's how confusing it was, I'm telling you! I felt the storyline kind of read a bit long at times, and that it could easily have been edited down to a 300-page story, rather than 400 pages. If I had to grade this by a letter I would give this a "C" . It was a good effort, and I will continue to keep my eye on Kane's work, it just won't be on any of my top lists for 2020, and it's probably the second most disappointing BOTM selection I've made this year (The worst by far being Leave the World Behind!). I would never discourage anyone from reading this book as it really did have its moments, but overall it didn't do a lot for me. I think everyone should give it a shot because maybe this is completely on me, I'd lost a pet earlier in the week and was in an emotional place and irritable, so perhaps I was reading this book at the wrong time, who knows?! I would classify this mostly as mystery, with some suspense, so it may appeal to those who don't exclusively read suspense/thriller. Anway...on to the next great read!
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,067 reviews3,609 followers
November 1, 2020
Lila is a lucky lady. She has the perfect marriage. Until she discovers a shocking secret her husband was keeping. What’s a wife to do?💁🏻‍♀️

When her husband mysteriously vanishes, suspicious eyes turn toward her. But Lila knows she isn’t responsible for his disappearance…even though she was the last to see him. Well that doesn’t look good!

This is a debut thriller from a new talent that I’m sure will be rocking the thriller world over the next many years.
The characters were colorfully brought to life as the plot developed and played out perfectly. Well done!
I certainly look forward to more of her great work!

A thrilling buddy read with Susanne.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers - William Morrow Paperbacks for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,139 reviews1,877 followers
December 30, 2020
Everyone in the small town of Ithaca, New York is worried about the whereabouts of beloved high school teacher, Aaron Payne.

For most people, it's because Nia Simms podcast, Gone Missing, has speculated that his disappearance could be linked to the three students who had “gone missing”from the area, in recent years-Karen Blue-Julie Levin-and Lara James.

But, for his wife, Lila Ridgefield, it's because she killed him and left him for dead in his car, in the school parking lot, and both have vanished without a trace. (gulp)

It isn't possible that she didn't finish the job, is it?
She thought everything had been meticulously planned...

So, begins a battle of wits between Lila, and the lead investigator in the case, Ginny.

Lila is one cool customer.
But, Ginny is whip smart.

Who will prevail?

This story had everything that I look for in domestic suspense-
intelligent characters
surprise twists
red herrings and misdirection
and, for a bonus...a murderer (?) I could root for!

Because Aaron's public persona was not the same as his private one.

Thank You to William Morrow for my gifted copy. it was my pleasure to provide a candid review.

Profile Image for Kat (on hiatus).
226 reviews541 followers
February 6, 2021
Lila Ridgefield is a woman who’s had enough. She’s survived traumatic family events from her past, only to find out that her husband, Aaron, a popular high school math teacher, is involved in sordid activities with some of his female students. Emotionally, she’s pretty numb to it all and just plain over it.

Most women, at this point, would just leave their husband, right? Not Lila. She plans a more permanent solution - only, things don’t quite go as planned when his SUV with his body inside goes missing from the school field she meticulously staged him to be found at.

Where is he? Did he somehow survive? Who’s leaving notes for her that clearly communicate that they know what she did? And the biggest question of all: Is she going to get away with it? To complicate these questions, we’re told through Nia Simms and her popular Gone Missing podcast, that three other young college-aged women have disappeared from the area as well. How do they fit into the picture? These are the questions that propel the story along to its gripping conclusion.

One could argue that this is a female empowerment story, not in the sense of arguing that women should go out and off the men that annoy them. (Breathe easy, guys.) Rather, this book is full of strong female characters, motivated by their own personal experiences and sense of morality to pursue what they believe is right. Lila is mortified by her husband’s secret, which initially only she knows, and she’s defiantly unapologetic in her actions to remedy the situation and seek justice for her husband’s victims. She’s also smart and cunning enough to know how to cover her tracks. Ginny Davis is a highly intelligent lead investigator who’s smart enough to know the truth of what happened but lacks the evidence and support from her male superior to wrap up the case. The cat-and-mouse game between these two ladies is the high point of this book, and I was honestly rooting for both of them, despite them being on opposite sides of the case!

As with many thrillers, I felt most of the men were a bit too stereo-typed: stuffed shirt, alpha male, largely unlikeable, temper-tantrum throwing, woman-oppressing jerks. I get its purpose in the storyline, but it gets a little old after awhile. On the other hand, at least this story avoided the equally ever-present, women as confused, over-emotional, unreliable, weak and whiny trope, so there’s that. Yay us! There were few real surprises for me, but it’s a solid mystery/thriller with a fantastic and rewarding ending, and I had a lot of fun with it!

Profile Image for Nicole Bertsche.
66 reviews6 followers
November 15, 2020
Around page 188 I decided I simply must start writing this review, to capture my evidence that a human woman DID NOT write this book, it must have been an algorithm. Between many grammatical errors, misspelled words and a litany of over worked metaphors that add nothing to the experience of reading this novel, I am convinced my theory on a bot being the true author is the only logical explanation. Call it occams razor or an outright denial that this author has a (multiple?) published work(s), but that is where this read has left me emotionally.

Below is my list of the most grievous offenses/ some Mid-read thoughts. Complete with page numbers if y’all want to follow along! I would personally recommend gouging your eyes out instead....

(98) “Christina shook her hear.” That has to be a typo right? Disappointed to see this was published, by HARPER COLLINS nonetheless. It is downhill from here....

How many times is she going to beat it over my head that the main characters are all “Broken” in some way. Yes, we could all use therapy, being cold and unemotional due to childhood trauma is not enough of a personality to carry a narrative. (127/144/188)

For characters who have many times over mentioned their intelligence and skill at verbal sparring, they are really bad at verbal sparring. My condolences to anyone who had this author as their trial attorney. (146)

Why does the word fidgeting appear in spades every time the investigator is interviewing a witness or suspect? Does this author know how to use a thesaurus? (99/146/232) update: in the 200’s she diversified to flinching and shifting too.

Please tell me the pseudonym is also concealing the authors gender- I refuse to believe that a woman would write the following in this year of our lord 2020 “Only a man would find solace in such flimsy excuses at a time like this. Women were programmed to fight to be believed” 🤢 UGH so gender normy (171)

Who the frick constructs a metaphor like that? “It was almost as if he’d been emotionally running and had finally fallen”. (186)

“She turned the alarm system being back on for one reason.” Is not a proper sentence, right? Am I going crazy? (189)

On page 193 let it be known that I have lost all ability to determine if the author is building sexual tension or a case for sexual harassment between characters? At this point I am reading out of stubbornness.

(299) shifting and fidgeting that’s all these characters do

(351) between all the cheese ball lines of “ ‘You shouldn’t be in here.’ Story of her life” or “well, she didn’t have an alibi but she had her attention now” I’m waiting for the DUN DUN *cue law and order opening theme song*

Ending my commentary here because the rest may give away the “twist” at the end. But man that was a rough journey. Two stars because the idea of someone killing someone, staging a suicide and then being thwarted when the body disappears was enough to pull me in and read 400 pages of enlarged text (wide margins too). Otherwise, a huge swing and a miss for me.
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
457 reviews1,024 followers
December 29, 2020
Happy publication day Darby Kane! Now available (29/12/20)

A dark, twisty, addictive thriller, where nothing is as it seems!

Lila is confused because her husband has gone missing, but she's sure that she definitely killed him, and left him somewhere where he could easily be found! So where on earth is his body?!


Wow! I really enjoyed Pretty Little Wife, and couldn't stop reading so that I could find out what happened! Did Lila really kill Aaron, or did she not manage to finish the job? I was sucked fully into Lila's world, and grabbed every spare snippet of time to read this over the busy Christmas period!

Lila was such an interesting character! A pretty little wife, who seemed to have it all, but behind the façade of a happy marriage to an upstanding school teacher, and a perfect life, what was really going on? Lila was so deeply flawed, with a horrific past, and could come across as very cold, almost indifferent, but I still liked her, and rooted for her (most of the time!). I also really liked Ginny, the lead detective, who was so smart, hardworking and likeable!

Between intelligent, driven detectives, local podcasts, missing women and threatening messages, I didn't know which way to turn or what to think! The plot was fab, characters so well written, and the pace was fast, I was impressed! Even though I did have one part figured out, the rest of the twists and red herrings totally threw me! The why really shocked me!


Pretty Little Wife was a wild ride of a book, and I enjoyed every second of it! Despite unlikeable and unreliable characters, I flew through this, and felt pretty satisfied at the end.

I definitely recommend this book by Darby Kane if you like a twisted domestic thriller!

😱 😱 😱 😱 1/2 Stars (4.5)

Many thanks to Edelweiss, William Morrow and HarperCollins for my DRC, in exchange for an honest review!
Well that was sick, twisted and I loved it! Rtc
January 8, 2021
The Pretty Little Wife here has had enough, and she is not to be underestimated. When she finds out what her husband has been hiding, she takes matters into her own hands. Things get complicated for her and us in more ways than one.

When Lila's husband goes missing, she is under suspicion, of course. Lila is one smart woman, and so is the detective on the case, Ginny. They are not going to let the other one outsmart them. This added some fun dynamics and banter between the characters, and I had to chuckle to myself a few times. I didn't know who to root for as each one was entertaining. I also enjoyed their inner banter with the men in the story who thought they were smarter than the women.

Darby Kane brings us one twisty domestic thriller here with enough unlikeable red herrings to keep you guessing right up to that entertaining, action-packed climax to the story. I was a tad bit disappointed with how Darby Kane to wrap things up, however, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. She doesn't just use red herring to throw us off-track or rely on layering those clues. She held back some details, and that left me a bit unsatisfied with the ending. The ending requires some suspension of disbelief, but that added to the story's entertainment for me.

There is a bit of a feminist side to the story here with the strong, stand on their own women here; however, the ending did kind of take away from that. lol

Overall this is a fun, entertaining twisty page-turner. I highly recommend it when you need to escape the world with a thrilling story.

This was a Traveling Sister read and made for a fun one to discuss those red herrings!!

I received a copy from the publisher on EW.
Profile Image for Holly  B (Short break!).
812 reviews1,861 followers
September 3, 2021

Loved the first half!

I was hooked and just had to know what happened to pretty little Lila's hubby, Aaron.

We know who the killer is, she tells us early on....

BUT could he possibly still be alive? She felt his pulse, there wasn't one?!

I just had to know what happened and even thought about flipping to the end, but I kept reading.

Loved the build up, wasn't a fan of the second half or the conclusion.

I felt similar with both her novels in that the premise was super intriguing, but the explanations and motivations were a massive stretch and didn't give me the thriller high I was looking for, sigh.

I'm a bit of an outlier, check out the other amazing reviews.

Library loan/ Read in August 2021
January 10, 2021
3.5 stars.

Lila’s husband, Aaron, teaches at the small town local high school where a student went missing. Months later Aaron disappears without a trace. Lila was the last person to see Aaron. Police investigate to determine if there could be a link between the disappearances.

This one started off strong! I loved Lila’s character and what her perspective brought to the story. The writing and storyline gripped me initially and had me curious to see how it would all play out. The podcast was a fun added element.

Something seemed to change around halfway. The writing lost its spark. The storyline took an unfortunate turn into unrealistic territory. I lost my connection with Lila’s character and I wasn’t as invested in the outcome of the storyline.

Overall, it was an entertaining, fast paced and easy read that was good but not great for me.

Thank you to Edelweiss for my review copy! This was a fun Traveling Sisters read - lots of great discussion!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
October 20, 2020
Marriage. It’s so idyllic isn’t it? Then again, I guess that depends on who your spouse is.

When Lila Ridgefield’s husband Aaron goes missing she is the prime suspect. Of course, she’s guilty as charged.

The problem is that she thought she planned the perfect murder until his body disappears from where she dumped it and now she’s up a creek without a paddle.

That, of course, is not the only problem.

Oh boy. Lila is in deep doo doo! Luckily for her, she’s not the only one!

Hang tight my friends, “Pretty Little Wife” is a roller coaster of a ride that will not let you off until the very end.

The writing in this novel started off a little choppy - which admittedly made it hard for me to connect to at first and then all of a sudden it smoothed out around 25 - 30%. Once the writing settled down, I was hanging on for dear life. A fun, crazy, wild read that had me totally engrossed even though you have to suspend disbelief.

A fun buddy read with Ms. Kaceey!

Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins Publishers - William Morrow and Darby Kane for the arc.

Published on Goodreads on 10.19.20.
December 26, 2021

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Oh look, it's a stealth read! I've been reading this on the DL for the last week or so because I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to continue it. This book was a gift to me from my sister who knows how much I love my fucked up lady thrillers, as I call them, and PRETTY LITTLE WIFE had such a fascinating premise that I was really hoping it paid out. Plus, all I want to read lately is thrillers, apparently, and this totes fit the bill.

The story, on the surface, sounds pretty basic. Lila is the perfect wife with the perfect marriage and the perfect living in the perfect little college town. EVERYTHING IS SO PERFECT Y'ALL. But perfect is as perfect does, and when her husband, Aaron goes missing, things get sus on a bus. Especially since there have been other disappearances in town, too. Young women. The two events seem totally unconnected until it seems like maybe they are. And suddenly, oh noes, everything isn't perfect after all. BUMMER.

There are several plotlines in this book. There's Ginny, the police lady investigating the case, and Lila herself. There's also dual timelines, with Lila before and after her husband's disappearance. It gets a little confusing in the beginning but all the switching is necessary for gradually dealing out info like a literary PEZ dispenser. And just like a PEZ dispenser, you aren't going to settle for one tiny piece of candy. You want alllll the candy. So you keep turning the pages, hoping for more, even if it gives you a stomachache.

Ultimately, I did like the book. There's a bit of a feminist spin on this story, which I really liked. Lila is such a cold and compelling heroine and I found her pretty refreshing from the frazzled and messy heroines that usually populate these sorts of books (even though I relate more to the frazzled and messy characters on a personal level). The twists were truly fucked up and one of them honestly shocked me, so props to the author for that. I found the story a little long-winded and started skimming at several points. Multiple timelines usually work for me but I didn't really like how it was done here and I kind of wish we got more action and maybe even a little smut to make the plot juicier. I kept hoping Lila would find hot and sexy romance with a dangerous murderbae (hi Heather) who understood her needs.

IDK, maybe it's the dark romantic in me. Anyway, I SO did not get that, so boooo.

But the lack of romance fit the story, too, and so did the SERIOUSLY, FUCK MEN narrative. I know, I know, #NotAllMen. But Lila just seemed like such a shit magnet, and you could really feel her frustration on page as she is thrust into this horrible situation that she might or might not be a part of. Which makes the ending even more satisfying. No, no spoilers. Just read it and see.

3 stars
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,813 reviews474 followers
February 14, 2021
I breezed through this book!

Pretty Little Wife had two excellent female characters. The cool aloof Lila Ridgefield and perseverant Ginny, the detective investigating her.

Lila becomes the center of an investigation when her husband goes missing. Lila learned something terrible about Aaron, her husband, just a few weeks before he disappeared. Did she kill him and if she did, why?

In addition, through a popular podcast, a total of three women have disappeared in the area. Are the cases connected?

Really loved reading Pretty Little Wife. From the first chapter, I could tell, I was going to enjoy it. I rooted for Lila from the getgo. From the outside, she was a mixture of a trophy wife and a Stepford wife. She was beautiful, always dressed well, she seemed untouchable. Yet, on the inside, she was a mess. She suffered from anxiety and possible PTSD.

Ginny was great too. She could read Lila when no one else could. She knew Lila was hiding something and she wanted to know what it was.

I also like Tobias, Lila's only friend and also a lawyer.

The ending is wrapped a little too well but no harm done.

Pretty Little Wife is one I can recommend.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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Profile Image for Michelle .
878 reviews1,271 followers
February 3, 2021
Pretty Little Wife is a winner of a domestic suspense novel. It took me about 15% in before I became completely invested. At the start I will admit to some confusion but that is likely on me and not the author. This is seriously unputdownable. The character of Lila Ridgefield had me riveted to the pages. I found her fascinating and I continually swayed back and forth in my feelings for her. In the end, I should let it be known, I loved her. I also very much enjoyed the character of Ginny the police detective in charge. I appreciated that the author made these two unique woman intelligent.

I found the ending satisfying but a little over the top at the same time but that in no way hindered my reading experience because the ride there was rollercoaster worthy. A most worthwhile read with enough twist and turns to keep a reader satisfied. 4 stars!
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.2k followers
January 21, 2021
Great hook, sizzled, and then picked up again near the end.

I had a really hard time with the first half connecting to the way the story was written. I thought it was a bit choppy and didn't flow all that well for me. I almost called her quits around the halfway mark but decided to keep going. I thought the end was much better than the beginning even if the ending didn’t all add up.

I received a copy through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,226 reviews1,275 followers
October 17, 2020
Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve.

And the universe is filled with evil, bad deeds, animosity, and just plain murder and mayhem. We humans can shake the dirt out of any situation and breathe it all in. Again and again....

Lila Ridgefield, from all indications, is the exquisite wife without a hair out of place. She's a lawyer and successful realtor in the beautiful background of Ithaca, New York. Her husband, Aaron, is a well-loved high school math teacher. But there's a chill in Lila's veins. She's seen plenty in life. And Darby Kane is about to open the door on just that.

The initial scenes reveal a highly manipulative and controlling side of Aaron. And Lila is at the receiving end of all that. He insists on room darkening curtains in their bedroom that can never be opened and dumps out drawers if things are not to his liking. Kinda like Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy on steroids. Aaron's persona is like a quick-change artist depending on the company that he keeps.

But one morning the principal of the high school calls Lila and tells her that Aaron never showed up for class that day. Hours and hours pass and Lila finally involves the police. Days go by without word from Aaron. And then eyes rest upon Lila. Who else could it possibly be?

Darby Kane unfolds this package of doubt, curiosity, and just plain head-swimming confusion. As readers, we're not privy to being witnesses to any crimes here in the making. Kane holds back for good reason. And it all comes hurling down on us like an over-packed closet when the door opens. Expect the unexpected in this one. The cast of characters is a strange little bunch and the writing is clever and highly creative. Pick this one up to see exactly what this Pretty Little Wife has been up to.

I received a copy of Pretty Little Wife through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Harper Collins Publishers and to Darby Kane for the opportunity.
Profile Image for Bridgett.
Author 19 books422 followers
November 20, 2020
"My taste in men sucks."

Yes, Lila, it really, really does.

Pretty Little Wife is chock full of excellent writing, believable characters, effective dialogue, and pulse-pounding pacing. The one thing that prevented me from giving this book five stars was that I'd mostly figured it out by the 17% mark, and had completely figured it out by the time I'd reached 30%. Thankfully, the fairly obvious red herrings didn't detract from my enjoyment of this story. And, oddly enough, I actually quite loved Lila.

Darby Kane just became my latest must-read author. I'm definitely recommending this one!

Available December 29, 2020.

Enthusiastic thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for my review copy.
Profile Image for Jen.
133 reviews207 followers
July 7, 2021
Wow, what an opening chapter!

No seriously. Quite possibly the best opening to a thriller I’ve ever read. And I read a lot of them.

Lila Ridgefield has found some very incriminating evidence against her husband. Over the years he’s gradually molded her into his perfect “pretty little wife” who bit by bit has lost her say in the marriage. But not anymore. Slights against herself, those she can tolerate, but this: evidence of him harming others… that cannot stand. What’s a woman to do? Well murder him and make it look as though he’s become a victim of his own guilty conscience and killed himself of course! But when his body isn’t found as she’s staged it, in fact is not found at all, things go sideways quickly. Lila may be cold and calculating, but could she have met her match in Ginny, the shrewd detective assigned to the case?

I should have loved this. I did love it for a good portion of the book. I really enjoy cat and mouse games between smart characters and competent law enforcement. However, I walked away feeling as though I’d been cheated. I don’t mind unreliable narrators. Misdirection can be really fun. But I just straight up felt lied to. Part of the ending made no sense and invalidated too much of what had happened earlier. I know mind-blowing twists are all the rage right now and I can’t blame authors for wanting to capitalize on this. But for a twist to be mind blowing it has to actually be plausible. I want to be going back to previous chapters, searching for what I missed and how I could have possibly been deceived. There’s being clever and then there is just straight up bait and switch, and this book fell into the latter category. I apologize for getting a bit ranty here, but it hurts the most when books that would have been great without a nonsense ending or twist do this. This was one of those books.

Also, I really hate to nitpick editing errors, and I never will for an ARC, but I did read a published copy of this book and I have to say there were SO MANY glaring errors that it took me out of the experience. I’m not sure what happened here, and I’m not going to let it affect my star rating because really this is more of a publishing issue than a story or author issue, but it was *an issue*.

3.5 stars, rounded down because I simply cannot abide by a twist that doesn't add up. On a more positive note, I didn’t want to put it down and the strength of the beginning of the book still has me very excited for what Darby Kane has in store for us next.
Profile Image for Jenna.
21 reviews3 followers
January 3, 2022

Lila Ridgefield kills her abusive husband Aaron after discovering that he is a serial predator, sleeping with his high school students, but then his body disappears. Did she really kill him? Was he still alive and stalking her? Kane’s plot is interested and unique but falls short in two major areas.

First, her writing includes many grammatical errors and typos that distract from the story. She also uses short choppy writing that becomes tiresome. For example, “The alarm system” comprises a complete sentence in one chapter. When an author does this sparingly it can be punchy and effective but Kane does this so often that it seems gimmicky and clunky.

Second, Kane builds up to a great plot twist and then ruins it. Aaron’s brother Jared is a serial killer who is responsible for the many missing women in the area. He is also the one who took Aaron’s body and tried to frame him for the murders Jared committed so he could run away without being tied to them.

I originally was going to rate this book 4 stars because I loved the unique twisty plot in spite of the less than masterful writing. I had to bump it down to 2 stars after Kane threw in one final twist: Lila knew about Jared the entire time and has been plotting his murder too.

This doesn’t add up for many reasons. Why would Lila be so alarmed by the ominous notes left on her windshield if she knew it was most likely Jared? Why would Lila give Jared the new password to her alarm system? Why would she need to compare the rocking chair in her attic to the one at the serial killers cabin if she knew it was Jared’s? Why leave her hammer outside the cabin where Jared can get it and use it as a weapon? Why go to the cabin alone in the first place if she knew Jared was dangerous? And finally why did Jared have her listed as the recipient of his trust if he died?

It seems to me like Kane wanted to shock readers and relied on a cheap trick to do it. She lied to her readers the whole time, never letting us in on Lila’s real thoughts. We saw her inner thoughts about how loving and trusting Jared was and nothing else. I’m a huge fan of being deceived by the author and seeing all the pieces fall into place in the end but this was not one of those novels. The final twist was thrown together sloppily and left me frustrated.

Ultimately Pretty Little Wife had a lot of potential but fell victim to clunky writing and a poorly executed final twist.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jessica.
325 reviews365 followers
December 30, 2020
Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane is a twisted domestic thriller.

Pretty Little Wife had so many twists, I could not figure out what actually happened. All of the characters are very complex. Ginny is the lead detective on the case and Lila’s only concern. Lila thinks she knows what happened to Aaron. Is she wrong? The story is told from the perspective of Lila and Ginny. There is also a True Crime Podcast featuring Aaron’s disappearance. Lila’s point of view switches between past and present.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Xe Sands. Her narration was great and added to a great story. I loved how much emotion she used. I really felt like I was listening to Lila talking.

I highly recommend Pretty Little Wife to domestic thriller fans especially if you like twisted stories with unlikeable characters.

I highly recommend Pretty Little Wife to domestic thriller fans.

Thank you NetGalley, Edelweiss, William Morrow Paperbacks, Harper Collins, and Harper Audio for Pretty Little Wife.

Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...
Profile Image for Joey R..
249 reviews321 followers
April 7, 2021
4.0 stars— When I saw that this was Darby Kane’s debut novel and it received numerous positive reviews, I decided to read “Pretty Little Wife”. “Wife” tells the story of Lila who is married to a popular local school teacher and coach, Aaron. When Lila finds numerous sexually explicit videos of Aaron and his students on his phone, she decides to take matters into her own hands and comes up with a plan to make Aaron disappear... for good. When Lila’s plan goes wrong and Aaron disappears after she thought she killed him, the story begins and the mystery starts to unfold. The author introduces several characters into the novel that might know something about this as the pressure builds in the community for the police to find the beloved missing coach. The lead investigator, Ginnie, is introduced into the situation and she is a welcome addition to the story. Ginnie is very intelligent and the cat and mouse game between her and Lila is enjoyable to read. Luckily the story focuses on this dynamic for most of the novel. This book was very fast paced and never boring so even though the ending was contrived and predictable I still give it a very high recommendation.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
991 reviews2,761 followers
April 13, 2021
I'm just rating my experience with the audiobook. I am a few hours into it and I just really don't like the narrator. Her voice grates on my nerves and the main character propels the story so I really won't be finishing listening to this one. This was a library Overdrive book so I don't feel badly abandoning it!!!

The book may be great but I would advise against the audiobook :(
Profile Image for GirlWithThePinkSkiMask.
395 reviews1,333 followers
May 8, 2022
Writing: 4/5 | Plot: 4/5 | Ending: 3.5/5


Lila is pretending to be a trophy wife when her husband goes missing. Because she made him disappear. She's been planning it for MONTHS. But something in her plan goes wrong, and suddenly she's facing off with the police and the mysterious saboteur.


I was surprised by this one. I honestly can't remember what drew me to it—I think it was one of the few available reads at my local e-library. Anyways. I'm not a big fan of these kind of set ups: controlled trophy wife and unhinged, narcissist husband who are masquerading as couple of the year. BUT, the reveal at the beginning that Lila was responsible for her husband's disappearance, locked my ass in. Ok, go off Lila.

I liked the writing and the storyline. Lila is a tough ass woman, and I appreciated a housewife lead that wasn't poppin pills like they're Pez candies. Darby Kane did a great job taking a traditional (frankly overused) psychological thriller trope and taking it to a new level.

This book does require you to look past reality, but it was tolerable.

Pros: Great take on a traditional domestic thriller, good writing, likable lead character that doesn't just shrivel up and wallow in pity
Cons: Ending was like... a smidge doing too much.
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