By: Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 3/28/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
The what ifs . . . Meant to be. Almost. Destiny. A Chance Meeting. Imagine if . . . ?
Marriage, friendship, motherhood, romance, trust, and betrayal. Pushing life's boundaries. Life is complex yet intriguing. Providence, the stars, chance, luck, serendipity, fortune, kismet, karma.
"What has fate in store for me?" FATE: The development of events beyond a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.
2016: Violet and Finn are married with a son named Bear. They are on vacation in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (North Miami). Life was good. Violet was a great mother. They had met six years ago, on this very beach on the other side of the pier. It was an instant electric connection. However, they were interrupted before they had the chance of exchanging information.
Dominoes. How did they end up together? Were they positioned perfectly? Why were they interrupted?
However, now, years later their well-planned getaway, turns tragic. Had her husband planned this all along?
Violet comes in from the beach to her ninth-floor hotel room to check on her son. Horrified, her son is gone. Her husband is not there. All their belongings are gone. Nothing left but her things. How could this have happened? Every trace of her husband and son were done. As if they had been figments of her imagination.
The author takes us back to 2010, a T-shirt, a camp from Pennsylvania, where the couple met in Sunny Isles Beach, FL. An odd coincidence? Their interruption. An emergency on the beach separated them. Was it meant to be, after all?
Finn comes back from meeting this woman whom he thinks he will never see again. Someone from Cincinnati area. How was it possible they had managed to have a real connection and yet find out so little about each other?
Enter: Craigslist’s Missed Connections. Finn drafted his post. “Care to pick up where fate left off?”
However, the person who replied was not Violet. It was Maribel. A stranger. What if he had not placed the ad? Maribel would not be dead. He would not be self-destructing. A life imploding.
Flashing back and forth from the past to the present, Violet is frantic. The police are involved. The FBI. An investigation. No one has found her husband and child.
Their best friends: Caitlin and her husband, George. They had twin boys close to the same age as Bear. Caitlin and Finn were friends since college. Why on earth would Finn do such a thing? How could any wife be as truly blindsided as Violet had been?
Finn’s parents were dead. He had a secret past. Perhaps, PTSD? Things Violet did not know. The investigation brings things to light, about her husband and friend. What would make him do such a drastic thing? She must get her son back. Could Missed Connections be the answer once again?
From Finn, Caitlin, to Violet, the suspense and emotions are high. Violet soon learns Finn was not the husband and man she thought he was at all. He was a kidnapper.
Finn soon blackmails Caitlin. George is a powerful man and comes from prestigious political family. Caitlin knows his reputation is at stake. Finn wants to hide out in their Kentucky remote cabin until he gets his head on straight.
Now Caitlin is caught between her best friend, Violet and sympathizes with her being a mother— to being fearful that Finn could ruin her own marriage and family with a secret. Guilt and fear. The consequences were terrifying.
Dark secrets from the past.
Lined up perfectly, yet so many things crossed their path. The first time they met. Years later. The reconnection. What had happened during all those years in between?
Finn knew he needed to give back Bear to Violet; however, could not stand to let him go. He could no longer see a way for them both to have him together. He could not see a way for Violet to remain in his life at all. Not after everything that had happened.
The metaphor. The dominoes.
“There had been 1,001 chances and reason for them not to end up together. And there was really only one chance, and really only one reason, for it to go the other way.”
Finn’s survivor guilt (Maribel), is at the heart of the story. Caitlin and Violet are secondary.
Wow! Strawser delivers an intriguing debut. Complex, well-written, and unputdownable. Readers will be frustrated, nerve-wracked, and engaged all at the same time. The showdown at the cabin will have you on pins and needles. For fans of mystery, domestic suspense, psychological, and contemporary.
So many questions . . . False or real? Trust. Life, marriage, friendships, love? Do you really know the people you are friends with and the person you are married to? Why do people choose to ignore all the signs? Do we settle?
However, as they say, “Life is like an elevator. On your way up, sometimes you have to stop and let some people off.”
We all have looked back at a job offer in California, New York, Arizona, or a life choice? The what ifs? How would my life be different if I had made a different choice? Taken an alternate path. Two roads. Which one? Will the outcome be the same, or dramatically different?
Whether you have or have not had a chance encounter in your lifetime, a special person, time or place, ALMOST MISSED YOU will make you contemplate. The what if? An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
In a recent online interview with the author:
. . . “The idea for ‘Almost Missed You’ comes from my own fascination with the idea of fate and the importance people put on meeting ‘the one,’ and on what’s supposedly meant to be,” Jessica explains. “We place such cultural importance on how couples meet, how paths cross and fates intertwine. I wanted to explore if that’s always for the best.”
She indeed accomplishes her goal.
From Cincinnati, OH, a remote cabin in Kentucky to some of my familiar places I have lived and worked: Asheville, NC, Sunny Isles (North Miami), and St. Augustine, FL . . . the author takes us on a journey. How these places, people, things . . . connect and bring together the story of memories, what happened and what did not.
Cannot wait to see what comes next!
For fans of Kimberly S. Belle, Paula Treick DeBoard, Renee Carlino, Colleen Hoover, Kate Moretti, Laura McNeill, and Emilie Richards. Some of my favorites.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.