Book: The Man Next Door
Series: Orchard Heights #2
Author: Roya Carmen
Release date: 21 May 2020
Main characters: Abigail Cooper, social worker, who has managed to rise above her childhood circumstances. Noah Reed, new neighbour, who’s keen to know about Abigail, but reluctant to share his own past…
I was just a girl, a young neglected girl with issues. I was a mess. A mess he wanted nothing to do with. He knew better. But I certainly didn’t. All I knew was that I liked what I saw.
I grew up in small town Michigan, raised by a single alcoholic father and two older brothers who never gave me the time of day. All I had were my best friends, Izzie and Gavin, a reclusive broken man, ten years my senior. My father forbade me to see him, but I didn’t listen. I was crazy about him and he adored me. Even when our small community was rocked by a heinous crime and Gavin was the main suspect, I still loved him.
When tragedy struck, I finally escaped. As far away as I could.
I’ve been in Chicago ever since, trying to forget all about my past. Yet, I find myself still thinking about my past, about Gavin and Izzie, about my other life. I’m not truly living anymore, just going through the motions. Until…
Noah Reed. My new neighbor. Beautiful, sweet and intoxicating. There’s something about him I just can’t put my finger on. He’s the first man since Gavin I truly let myself fall for. I think he might be the one. Until…
… the day I discover his secret.
Why you should read it: Well, if you thought book one (The Girl He Loves) was a wild ride, you’re going to lose your mind at The Man Next Door! It was a well-told story which moves between the present and past with frequent flashbacks to Abby’s youth. I found her childhood story captivating as it really contrasted who she was then versus now. You really get a strong sense of the trailer park she grew up in, and the lingering sadness that seems to follow all of the characters around is tangible. It’s not an idyllic adolescence by any means and there were scenes that some may find disturbing, so proceed with caution. The balance between Abby’s first love story and the potential for her present one was quite a contrast.
What you may struggle with: Abby’s relationship with Noah was based on comparatively few interactions, so at times I was sceptical as to how they could claim to be so in love so quickly. I guess this may be because her relationship with Gavin grew over years, and Noah and she was a matter of weeks. At times it felt a little ‘Tell me’ rather than ‘Show me’.
The small-minded attitude of the place Abby grows up in is claustrophobic but very true to life. The era of slut shaming and misogyny is alive and well in the story and it rankles, but I cannot say it’s not realistic.
Rating: 3.5/5. All in all, it was an engaging story – not perfect in terms of the pacing in the present narrative perhaps, but an engaging tale, if I did guess the twist early on, it wasn’t a problem. Can I also say that I was very excited by the appearance of a very familiar, much-loved character from another book who will be featuring in book 3 at the end of the year!
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/39uajnz
AMazon CA: https://amzn.to/2ygvDAi
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2WPGo6F
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2XSZb1C