At the back of this book, in the author bio, it notes that Winchester is a pseudonym for an author that primarily writes bubblegum pop level romance novels but who wanted to take a shot at psychological suspense. After reading this book, I can tell you first hand that if you went in expecting a bubblegum pop romance, well, those notions would have been dispelled in the first few pages. By the time you get to a rape scene fairly early in, the darkness has already been well established. So it is likely a very good marketing decision indeed to keep those two product lines separate.
That said, this was an absolute mind fuck of a book, particularly in the exceedingly dark and oppressive first half. As I say in the Goodreads review below, I really was questioning my desire to finish it, it was *that* dark. To the level that I’m actually glad I was alone when reading this one, just so no one else was impacted by how dark I became while reading it. It was an amazing effort, it really was. Winchester’s ability to bring the reader’s mind to such darkness was truly superb – and a bit disturbing. By the end, the story does in fact brighten up a bit, if only by a shade or two, and this was probably necessary just to preserve the reader’s sanity and ease them back into the real world outside the book.
This is an excellent book for a dark winter night laying around the fire reading, but probably a bit dark for the beach. (Scratch that, I was reading a fair amount of that first half while actually on a beach – there is no probably there. You really don’t want to take this one to a beach. But fall is coming anyway. 😉 )
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Oppressively Dark Beginning. This book is *so* dark in the first half that it almost doesn’t have a choice but to lighten by at least a shade or two in the back half – and even then, that shade or two brighter is about all you ever really get. I don’t want to give too much away in this review, but if you have issues such that you can’t or won’t read books that contain any level of domestic abuse or rape, you’re going to want to skip this one. Beyond that, the front half of this book in particular screwed with my mind so much – easily one of the more powerful books on that level that I’ve read in quite some time. To the level that I didn’t want to finish it, but knew I needed to for this review – and even then, I knew it was a 5* book *because* of what it was doing to me and its excellent editing. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever read another book under this name from this author, but this one is very much recommended.