I really wanted to love this book. And there were many parts of it that I truly liked. But it was kind of like having a fun romp in the sack without an orgasm…lots of enjoyable moments but without the big payoff. And while good sex is still good, it’s always better with a satisfying ending.
Title: The Last Thing He Told Me
Author: Laura Dave
Publication date: May 2021
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
The story hit the ground running when Hannah received a cryptic note from her husband that simply said: Protect her. The “her” in question was Owen’s 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother when she was very young and basically resented Hannah as the new wife. When they finally realized that Owen had disappeared and news spread about a scandal at his job, Hannah began to wonder how well she really knew him.
I have to admit that the beginning really pulled me in. It jumped right into the action and sprinkled in backstories through memories and flashbacks. While the writing was simplistic and somewhat repetitive, it did a good job of moving the story forward in a way that compelled me to want to know what happened next!
However, the majority of the book consisted of Hannah’s (and by extension, Bailey’s) quest to find out what happened to Owen. In the process, they uncovered many secrets from his past, and it became clear that he wasn’t who they thought he was. The author did a good job of slowly unveiling information to keep the reader interested, but it was the way these details came to light that didn’t sit well with me. For example, Hannah would recall some obscure thing Owen said and then she would fly across the country to investigate it. Or Bailey would remember important details about a wedding she attended when she was only 4 years old. All of Hannah’s hunches were correct. Every clue led directly to the next. It was all too convenient. And unbelievable.
The relationship between Hannah and Bailey had the potential to be something really special. Bailey’s teenage attitude and Hannah’s “pick your battles” restraint are something many people can relate to. And there were many instances where their evolving relationship felt natural. But Hannah seemed to have impeccable parenting instincts even though she’s only been a stepmom for a little over a year. And she never lost her cool with the bratty Bailey. Not once. Unrealistic.
OK, let’s talk about the ending. The book blurb promised a “shocking twist” at the end. Yeah, not so much. I mean, yes, it was a bit unexpected, but not shocking. And it was seriously unbelievable as well.
Spoiler alert below (highlight to read):
And I couldn’t accept the fact that Hannah would sacrifice her entire future with her new husband for a stepdaughter who had shown no respect for her at all up until the last few days and was nearly grown. Just didn’t work for me. And did no one else think that the grandfather could just have Hannah bumped off by his mob friends and then reclaim his granddaughter since Owen/Ethan was gone? Major plot hole, in my opinion.
All that being said, I did enjoy many elements of this story and wanted to know how it all turned out, so that’s a win for me as a reader. But some people don’t mind sacrificing a satisfying ending with books. And with sex, for that matter.
I’m not one of them.
I wasn’t a fan of the narrator of this book, Rebecca Lowman. Unfortunately for her, her voice sounded similar to that of Lauren Hammersley, who plays the detestable Charmaine on Netflix’s Virgin River. Once that was in my head, I couldn’t get it out. And I didn’t want Charmaine reading a book to me. Not only that, Ms. Lowman’s delivery was very slow with understated emotion. I needed her to step up the pace (however, it seemed to get better as the story moved along) and provide some much-needed nuance to the protagonist’s inner dialogue. For me, it fell a little flat.