Tainted by Brooke Morgan

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Tainted by Brooke Morgan

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This is a taut, but easy to read story with a psychological twist. Set in small-town America, this debut novel is all about listening to your inner voice - and the sometimes catastrophic results - if you don't.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0099536277

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The English male and the all-American girl. It's a classic duo. And it works time and time again in books and in films (think Notting Hill). Brooke Morgan is an American living in London and this is her first novel. It's set in quintessential small-town America with only a handful of characters. The setting may be semi-rural but there's a definite sense of claustrophobia. Here life is lived in the slow lane where most folks amble along.

Enter Jack, a good-looking and enigmatic young man with a cut-glass English accent and several lives start to hot up a bit. There's Holly, who has experienced great loss with the death of both parents. As if that wasn't enough she has been unceremoniously dumped by the father of her daughter. She's a young single mother trying to bring up her rather introverted daughter, Katy. Katy doesn't seem to have any friends of her own age. Her two best friends are her elderly great-grandfather and his elderly dog.

Although the central plot with a main character disguising, in some form or other, a shady past is hardly original, it works here in Tainted. The well-known sayings 'Never judge the book by its cover' and 'Still waters run deep' apply here in spades. For me, Jack's unnatural and in a sense admirable self-control is chilling in the extreme. He appears from nowhere, with no baggage (which is normally a good thing, but not here) and sweeps Holly off her feet in a matter of weeks. He is literally her Prince Charming.

It's only when they are married that worrying signs in Jack's behaviour emerge. He is moody, controlling and tells lies regularly.

For me, a crucial element in Holly and Jack's relationship, right from the start, is that Holly thinks she is simply not good enough for Jack. It's almost as if she is metaphorically running in order to try and keep up with him. The saying - it's not what you say but how you say it, is relevant too. Holly appears to be almost reduced to a constant soporific state brought on by her husband's seductive accent.

The essence of the book is about 'doing bad things' and their consequences. Morgan's writing is tight. So much so, that it is more about what is not said, than what is. I was aware of the huge gaps in Jack's background which made me want to turn the pages. Holly is emotionally blind-folded. She is so desperate to secure a father for Katy and therefore have the ideal little family unit, she chooses to ignore her inner voice - until it's too late. Well-meaning friends and even her estranged partner warn her against Jack. All to no avail. She even fails to notice that her husband spends more time with his new step-daughter than with her. Jack's past is unravelled eventually and there's a nice twist at the end.

If I have a criticism it would be that some of the dialogue is a bit twee and cliched in places.

Morgan cleverly ends the story ready for a sequel - should she choose. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Hidden by Katy Gardner.

Buy Tainted by Brooke Morgan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tainted by Brooke Morgan at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tainted by Brooke Morgan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tainted by Brooke Morgan at Amazon.com.


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