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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
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Never Have I Ever (2019)

by Joshilyn Jackson

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2124285,193 (4.01)9
"Wonderful--suspense and surprises, real characters, and a scary, ominous backbeat.  This feels like the book Jackson was born to write." --Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author From New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson, a twisting novel of domestic suspense in which a group of women play a harmless drinking game that escalates into a war of dark pasts In this game, even winning can be deadly... Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it--teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy's sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night. Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it's naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way--a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did. When they're alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn't give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she's going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another. To protect herself and her family and save the life she's built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can't beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins. A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson's trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Pretty sure this was in the MMD summer reading guide, extra excitement that this is the author’s first thriller. One of my first audiobooks was a previous book by this author, and I enjoyed it.

But I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much. The main character Amy made some decisions I really didn’t like (the secrets she kept), which drove her actions with the protagonist Roux. And I really disliked Roux, especially the way the author read her lines, in a sneaky kittenish nasty way.

One thing about audiobooks - you can’t go read the end to decide if it’s a story you want to finish. But I did look at the reviews for this book, and they were all raves, promising unexpected twists. So I kept on.

Still, ups and downs for me. When the jail time threat was eliminated thanks to Tig, I started to enjoy it. And then the reveal of Char as Lolly Shipley and I was horrified. A low point. But the redemption Amy felt after saving Roux on a dive was good for me - I could like like her character again. Especially when she decides to stop competing with Roux, and decided not to pump her stepdaughter to outmaneuver Roux. Yeah, there’s a conscience!

The ending was a wild ride. Amy’s fury about Philip dumping Char (because of Roux), discovering Luca’s real identity and the confrontation in the living room with Roux. So she saves Roux’s life and then shoots her at the end. A pretty good outcome for a thoroughly bad person.

The focus on scuba was really interesting though. A lot of detail about what is required and what it feels like. And how the activity allows Amy to keep peace in her mind - her old memories and regrettable actions are confined to the deep and don’t torment her everyday life so much. ( )
  BeckiMarsh | Sep 25, 2019 |
Joshilyn Jackson usually writes novels about women set in the South, where the many facets of living in the South, especially in the rural South, are examined with a sharp, but loving eye. Jackson's protagonists belong to families dominated by women, have pasts, and are figuring out their way forward. They're escapist reading for readers who like a little grit and a deep sense of place. With this novel, those elements remain, but for the first time, Jackson is writing a straight up thriller.

When Roux shows up at the neighborhood book club meeting, Amy is annoyed. And she becomes more annoyed as she watches Roux take over the meeting, turning it into a drunken party where far too much is said. But Roux is there to do more than have some fun; she's out to get something. And her target is Amy. So begins a game of cat and, well, cat. Roux is an adept blackmailer, but Amy has a family to fight for and she's not willing to go down without a fight.

This is a lot of fun. It's a well-plotted story, where the elements fit together. It's fun to see a book that focuses so heavily on the minutiae of the daily life of a mother of a young child be so exciting and fast paced. While I prefer Jackson's quieter novels, this one was no hardship to read. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Sep 11, 2019 |
The arrival of an unexpected guest at the local neighborhood book club meeting foreshadows an ever-escalating game of cat-and-mouse between Amy Whey and newcomer Angelica Roux. Faced with the threat of Roux spilling long-held secrets, Amy must find a way to keep the unspoken truths of her past from destroying everything she holds dear.

The characters in this captivating narrative are well-defined: strong, believable, flawed. The unique, captivating plot spins out a story of dark deviousness and stunning, unforeseen reveals. Readers are likely to find it difficult to set this one aside before turning the final page.

Recommended. ( )
  jfe16 | Sep 8, 2019 |
I confess. I almost stopped reading Never Have I Ever several times before I reached the halfway point. I didn’t trust Joshilyn Jackson enough and thought the blackmail story was rather stupid. Plus, I never could figure out why the secret was worthy of blackmail in the first place. However, I kept with it and was rewarded with a fantastic story of secrets, guilt and much more. The elements devoted to self-worth and the definition of family alone were well worth the efforts of sticking with the book. Plus, Ms. Jackson’s descriptions of scuba diving make it sound worth the effort it would take for me to overcome my fear of deep water. Any activity that forces you to focus on the present and the peace that brings is attractive, and Ms. Jackson’s descriptions are enticing. I especially adore how she tackles some fairly sticky topics with gentle reminders that every type of lifestyle that incorporates love has value. There is so much gray area in her characters though that I can see this being the darling of the book club world. I am heartily glad I stuck with the novel, and I will never doubt Ms. Jackson’s writing choices again.
1 vote jmchshannon | Sep 2, 2019 |
Kept me interested from start to finish. ( )
  deb.d | Aug 29, 2019 |
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In this game, even winning can be deadly...

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.
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