by Kylie Kaden
Published by Random House Australia
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
This mesmerising debut novel is part love story, part mystery, telling the captivating story of two lovers torn apart by tragedy and the secrets they kept of one devastating night.
I'm the most authentic version of myself when I'm around Jack. We've known each other since we were kids, and our relationship was always one of mudpies and mocking. Then everything changed. Beautiful Kate, my best friend, disappeared on a moonlit beach after Jack dumped her for me. Jack was a suspect and, sure of his innocence, I lied to protect him. I know Jack didn't kill her. Our betrayal did.
Thirteen years later, I am thirty, childless and single, attempting to renovate my life rescuing a rundown worker's cottage. All is as it should be in my safe little world - until Jack buys the vacant lot behind my housea and the feelings that we buried all those years ago - the guilt, the love and the pain - resurface.
We can't keep running away from the past - and to move forward we have to know what really happened to Kate.
Fresh out of a relationship with a cheating Merc-driving lawyer, social worker Frankie is desultorily doing up a weatherboard cottage in Brisbane. She is shocked to find her estranged childhood friend Jack Shaw buying the vacant block behind hers, with his partner and toddler. They quickly re-establish their intimacy, but between them always is the mystery of what happened while camping on the beach at schoolies – the night they lost Kate.
Kaden’s romance is a solid debut, with convincing tension in the mystery, a great sense of place, and an engaging voice. One to watch!
‘Hope I’m not distracting you from bidding,’ I laugh.
He scratches his head. ‘Er, not me, no.’
I relax a notch. ‘Phew, now that would be freaky,’ I scoff, and a snort-laugh escapes. I lean in close. ‘Besides, the block is a swamp every time it rains …’
‘Is that right?’ A dimple appears on his cheek. Then he’s side-tracked again, looking around the crowd, at the little boy now on hands and knees with his ball at the fence, and it gives me a chance to suss him out. His clothes are different – brand names, ironed. His hair is longer, with an actual style. He’s better groomed now, not a trace of the greasy forehead and nineties’ chambray shirts, but he is still the Jack I knew. […]
‘Are you here gauging the market then?’ I ask Jack, returning my attention to my Class of 2000 reunion for two.
His lips tighten, his grey eyes thin. ‘Not exactly …’
Behind his shoulder, I see the winning bidder hovering near the officials, staring out at the crowd.
Jack turns to scan the crowd too.
That’s when the lady in black smiles and waves. At Jack.
My jaw drops.
He knows her?
And that’s when the baseball-cap-wearing boy spots him, and races over.
‘Daddy!’ his little knee-high voice chirps. ‘I found doggee. He lickded me.’