My latest read (following a different book that I had to abandon around 30% through) is The Wife Before Me by Laura Elliot. This book reminded me of the movie Sleeping with the Enemy before I was even halfway through it.
The book has three main parts. The first is Elena’s life starting with meeting handsome, charismatic Nicholas Madison at her mother’s funeral. They develop a relationship and ultimately marry. His aggressive side starts to show when she questions him about his previous wife (who died tragically when her car veered off a cliff into the ocean below). Elena feels that she will never live up to Amelia’s ghost. Nicholas continues to show violence followed by apologies and blames it all on the stress of losing his wife. They have two children. One night, she lashes out and almost kills Nicholas. She is placed on probation and is allowed supervised visits with her kids. This is when she really starts learning the truth about her husband.
Meanwhile the story switches back to Amelia’s life with Nicholas which was definitely NOT perfect. He was abusive to her, killed her father and controlled her until she was a shell of her former self. When Amelia finally confides in a couple friends, they start the plan to save her and the life of her as yet born child (an earlier pregnancy ended due to his abuse). The plan does come together and Amelia was able to rid herself of his horrible entrapment and abuse.
In a solid twist, Elena and Amelia end up working together to take Nicholas down once and for all, including some help from a ghostly presence (an odd addition in my mind, but it works!).
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I really hated Nicholas and his mother! It’s frightening what someone may endure out of fear, hope and a twisted sense of love.