Lauren Summers is in hiding. Her fashion house internship was supposed to launch her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she can find comes with little pay, but at least it offers a free place to live–a rundown cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Planning to live on savings until she figures out what’s next, she’s unprepared to be contacted by a reporter.
Kendall Joiner is researching Charlotte Montgomery, a former Hollywood ingénue who lives a reclusive life in the cliff-side mansion. Rumors have swirled for decades about Charlotte, and now Kendall wants to find the real story. In return, she may just have the key to getting Lauren back into the fashion world. Desperate to get her life back on track, Lauren's not sure she can turn down the offer--but as she and Miss Montgomery get to know more about each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.
Excerpt from back of book
Lauren, Lauren, Lauren.
Honestly, I loved this girl.
While she could easily have been one of those "to good to be true" characters, Cushman was able to bring life to Lauren through her relationships, her honest wrestling with life's issues, and the growth she showed over the course of the plot.
This depth was equally matched in Frances (another favourite, I loved her patient loyalty), Charlotte, Kendall, and to a lesser degree Willow (who fit her role perfectly).
This was important as I felt the other characters: including Lauren's current and past coworkers and the other neighbours didn't hold as much weight and were quickly forgotten. The effort put into crafting the central characters was thoroughly evident I just wish there had been more "world building" in that area.
I also enjoyed Cushman's style when it came to telling her story. The interactions felt natural as did the use of the flashbacks to explore character history. The flashbacks, in fact, were a great addition to help readers enter into the mystery of Charlotte Montgomery. There were times when the transitions felt a little jarring but that could also be due to me reading at 1am.
Overall, Cushman presents a great read. There's a solid mystery with some twists and turns I couldn't predict. Central characters with stories that connect, reach out, and give this characters life, and a wonderful story of finding one's way back when life comes crashing down.
4 out of 5 stars.