The House Guest
reviewed by Valerie J. Brooks
valeriejbrooks.com | Goodreads
Alyssa Macallan sits in a bar, destroyed by the unexpected—her husband has moved out and wants a divorce. She wouldn’t be so emotional except Alyssa has had not one warning sign.
What did she do wrong? She quit law school to devote herself to Bill. Bill Macallan gave her everything, took her to the top of society, and made all her dreams (even ones she didn’t know she had) come true. Everything she did, she did for him.
The cruelty of her situation worsens as she finds her husband has been in the house, moved things around, and taken away her security. She thinks she’s being gaslit. Then Bree Lorance walks into the bar, and they connect. Alyssa invites the troubled Bree to stay in her guest cottage. Why not? Men have screwed them over. Alyssa will lose everything because Bill is all-powerful and there was no prenup. Bree will be safe from the man who is tormenting her. They quietly find strength in each other.
Or at least that’s what we’re meant to believe.
When Alyssa helps Bree find a brother she didn’t know she had, Bree discovers she’s inherited millions, and Alyssa finds happiness in helping her. But when an FBI agent comes for Alyssa, accusing her of her being in cahoots with Bill in defrauding people of millions, Alyssa doesn’t know what to do. She knows nothing of her husband’s business or financial investments. He would never tell her. Then the FBI agent informs her that there is an offshore account of millions in her name. Alyssa feels more gaslit than ever. She knows nothing of this account.
Now with their futures flipped, Alyssa and Bree try to figure out what to do. But can Alyssa trust Bree? Bree has gone from poverty to wealth, and Alyssa will be poor when Bill gets through with her. Alyssa has no access to the offshore account and doesn’t want it. But what is real and what isn’t? Alyssa begins to have her doubts about everyone and everything. Yet, she likes Bree, so the women hold onto their friendship.
Hank Phillippi Ryan once again takes us on the fast track to trouble. So many times, the notes I wrote about THE HOUSE GUEST were, “Not who he/she says he/she says they are.” So many times, I was wrong and crossed the out the comment. Who is the villain and victim? Ryan writes in short chapters and each one leaves us hanging. She weaves in and out of time flawlessly and builds the wealthy world of Bree and Bill’s with colorful details. Bree is more elusive but a believable and sympathetic character.
Ryan is a master at writing a thriller with so many twists and turns and believable characters that you can’t help but wonder how she can flip a story so many times without it falling apart.
Thanks to Hank Phillippi Ryan, NetGalley, and Forge Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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