Title: Beneath the Marigolds
Author: Emily C. Whitson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Date of Publication: September 21, 2021
Publisher: CamCat Books
When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles’ retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.
Ann quickly realizes there’s more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?
Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the “journey to true love” and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.
Beneath the Marigolds is a fast-paced psychological thriller that mashes up the reality series The Bachelor with Gone Girl.
Told in three parts, the story alternates between the points of view of Ann and Reese. Ann is heading to Phaux Island under the guise of finding love, but she’s really searching for Reese, her close friend who went missing a month earlier. Reese’s point of view scenes begin when she first came to the island, eager to find her soulmate.
There’s a distinct writing style change between the two heroines’ points of view, which made it incredibly easy to recognize whose chapter I was reading. Reese is a flighty, immature-for-her-age, hopeless romantic, and her chapters read as such. Ann, on the other hand, is far more reserved. She’s a realist. She’s a lawyer, who, like her best friend, is unlucky in love. Her chapters have a far more analytical style, and even the way she views what’s happening at the retreat is coloured by her experiences and her profession.
Both Reese and Ann are recovering alcoholics, and this is a theme throughout the novel. Because they’re at a romantic retreat, of course they’re constantly being tempted with alcohol, almost to the point where it seems like the people running the resort want them off the wagon. There’s something sinister going on, and Ann is determined to get to the bottom of it, not just so she can find her friend, but so she can get out of there unscathed.
There are many exhilarating twists and turns in the plot. There were a few developments that sent me reeling, and then I was back to hungrily devouring the book. The final reveal was quite shocking, and it nicely wrapped up a cohesive and entertaining story.
*Thank you to CamCat Books, Edelweiss, and the author for the ebook to review*
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