Who Can You Trust? A review of “The Stranger in Our Bed” by Samantha Lee Howe

Whooboy! “The Stranger in Our Bed” is a tightly packed psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

In order to keep up appearances, Charlotte has become docile, just going with the flow, letting her controlling husband Tom and his doting mother Isadora make decisions and basically manage her life is somehow easier than trying to assert herself. And to what purpose? She has everything she could want, yet she feels useless and empty. So when a handsome stranger pays attention to her, she feels desirable and more herself.

After several months of stolen liaisons with Ewan, they declare their love and make plans to leave together. Charlotte packs her bag and tells Tom she’s leaving but when Ewan doesn’t meet her at the prearranged place, Charlotte is worried. When she tries to locate him, his number is disconnected, the owner of the apartment where they met for months claims never to have heard of him, and the company he said he worked for doesn’t even know him.

Charlotte is devastated but Tom is uncharacteristically magnanimous, even doting as he slips back into his control freak personae. Only now Charlotte realizes his passive-aggressive tendencies have become more aggressive and she is frightened of him. When their daughter is born Charlotte is content and to all appearances Tom is a proud papa. But appearances can be deceiving. Can she really trust Tom? For that matter, is there anyone she can trust?

Author Samantha Lee Howe has written a dark, tightly packed psychological thriller guaranteed to keep you riveted right to the end. The plot is full of twists and turns and fast-paced action. As to characters, Tom is a psychotic terrorist and Charlotte is too weak for words early on but eventually she grows a spine and redeems herself. Isadora is Tom’s enabler even though she means well. Its just that he’s so far gone you can’t help wondering if he’s salvageable. What a mixed up trio! But Howe does a fantastic job of fleshing out her characters and setting the scenes for all their misdeeds.

As her thriller debut, I think author Howe has realized her calling in this genre. What keeps this from being a five star review is the many instances of mixed up homophones, i.e. bale/bail, chilly/chili, elicit/illicit, dose/doze, etc. A skilled writer should know the difference. Whoever was responsible for proof reading should also have caught those errors. And that doesn’t count the many typos and dropped words. I realize that the world of self-publishing has altered the landscape but if I was the author I would make sure that my manuscript was printer ready before hitting that Publish key. Four stars.

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