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The Au Pair

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On the very day Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born at home on their family's Norwalk their mother committed suicide by throwing herself off the cliffs, their older brother's au pair fled and the small village's love of superstitious nonsense kicked into overdrive with talk of witches and changelings and sprites.  Twenty-some-odd years later, Seraphine still lives on the family estate mourning the recent accidental death of her father.  It's while she's going through some things that she discovers an old photograph, presumably taken on the day of her and Danny's birth.  Their father, their mother, their older brother Edwin and....one newborn baby in their mother's arms.  Is that baby Seraphine or Danny and where's the other one?  Seraphine, who has spent her life being called a sprite, remarked upon that she looks nothing like her siblings or father, and saddled with grief, is determined to find answers.  And for that, she needs to track down Edwin's former au pair, Laura.  

So begins Emma Rous's debut suspense novel, The Au Pair: family secrets, with a sprinkling of Gothic, told in time slip fashion - Seraphine in present day and Laura the au pair in the early 1990s.  The first half was a bit rocky for me mostly because Seraphine comes off as borderline hysterical (save me from hysterical female protagonists in suspense novels) but it smooths out a bit as the story lines converge and threats surface to warn Seraphine about snooping around in the family's dirty laundry.  There's even a very light romance thread to spice up the proceedings, making this one of the more nostalgic Gothic throwbacks I've read this year.

The ending is, well OK.  I'll be honest, it's really light in the pants on motive.  All the family secrets come tumbling out but why The Bad Guy did what they did doesn't hold up to much scrutiny.  But it's an ending, I guess?  And it helps distract from the other large issue in this story, which is that all the adults are really gross.  I mean, I think I'm supposed to not like Laura in the end and be a Judgey McJudge Pants about the choices she makes back in 1992 - but Laura was an 18-year-old girl with a mountain of baggage thanks to her Mum, Stepfather, and a relationship gone bad.  Did she make good choices?  Well, no.  But frankly she was 18 and the frickin' adults in this book were ADULTS and yes I'm going to hold them to a higher standard.  But then we wouldn't have had much of a story.

In the end this was better than OK for me but I wasn't in love with it.  That said, there's enough on the page of this debut novel that I would definitely be interested in reading Rous's next book.

Final Grade = B-
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Special thanks to Berkley for providing our copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.

I really wanted to love this one so much, Secrets between family members, mystery & more. Rous does a great job with the twists & the turns, but I just wasn't fully invested in getting to the bottom of the story. If you don't mind a slower-paced mystery novel with more of a gothic feel, this one may be a winner for you! 

Thank you for the opportunity to be an early reader.
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This book sounded a lot better than it actually was. It seemed unnecessarily long. I lost interest somewhere around the middle, and the ending seemed way too "soap opera"-y: both confusing and convenient. I almost put this down a few times, but since it was an arc from Netgalley, I decided to plow through. I didn't enjoy some of it, but the writing was pretty good. Not sure if I'll pick up another book from this author. Thanks, Netgalley, for this arc.
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Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Au Pair

Author: Emma Rous

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 1/5

Publication Date: January 8, 2019

Genre: Mystery

Recommended Age: can’t recommend as DNF

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 360

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Review: I had to dnf this book at about halfway through. I just felt like the story was really uninteresting and the writing really lazy when memories and such just spring to mind at the perfect time. The book also jumps back and forth between several timelines and it can be hard to keep track of it. It just didn’t captivate me.

Verdict: It wasn’t for me but it sounds good?
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This was a good thriller! It kind of scared me since I was an au pair myself, but thankfully it was before this book ;)
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Well, it is interesting and it is Gothic. I liked those parts. I did get a bit agitated with some of the "ok that was stupid" aspects. I have problems with that in books or films. Now, that said, I liked all else, so I'm giving this book 4 stars. I do appreciate the gothic and mystery aspects. 
My copy came from Net Galley. My thoughts and opinions are my own. This review is left of my own free volition.
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I enjoyed this novel. I was constantly trying to figure out who was the main characters family, true parents, etc. It was a great domestic suspense novel. I would recommend to my patrons who enjoy the genre.
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Received a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley.

Domestic drama. Rich family with nannies, add in a few mysterious deaths. Honestly, the MC should have just left her family’s history alone.
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The Au Pair by Emma Rous is a 2019 Berkley Books publication.

A wickedly dark, wildly entertaining, mesmerizing tale!

Seraphine Mayes is mourning the untimely death of her father, who died in a freak accident. Staying on at her family’s summer home, she is going through her father’s things, when she finds a photo of her mother taken on the day she committed suicide by throwing herself off a cliff. But, what strikes her as odd, is that her mother had just given birth to twins- Seraphine and her brother Danny- when the photo was snapped. However, her mother is only holding one baby.

At the edge of the photo is a woman, later identified as ‘Laura’, the au pair, who had been hired to care for Seraphine’s older brother, at the time.

Why is there only one baby in the photo? Which baby is in the picture? Is it Seraphine or Danny?

With no one willing, or able, to answer her questions, Seraphine goes in search of the only other adult present that day who can provide her with answers- the Au Pair.

This is a bizarre, twisted family saga filled to the brim with secrets, misconceptions, coverups, and deceptions. The atmosphere drew me it immediately, as did the stylish blend of noir mixed with contemporary Gothic. The dual timeline is the perfect format for this type of story, with Laura narrating events from the past, and Seraphine providing the present -day narrative. The past and present slowly converges with ripples of shockwaves building to a massive eruption, leaving every single character-and the reader- shaken to the core.

There’s plenty to chew on if one wishes to delve into the psychology of the story, which is deeper than it may appear. Seraphine, especially, has specific fears which drive her to obsessively seek proof of her heritage and identity. The folklore tales of “Sprites” and the rumor of a family cure only heightens Seraphine’s paranoia. The many revelations and mind-bending twists, however, are jaw-droppingly entertaining.

This book has been compared to the V.C. Andrews’ style of shocking Gothic family theatrics by some editorial reviewers, as well as to Kate Morton, who famously combines the past with the present, and adds a Gothic flavor to her stories, as well. Initially, I scoffed at such a notion, but strange as it sounds, the two styles do complement one another. So, I’m going to concur. However, I think this book can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is historical fiction, a domestic family drama, and a suspenseful mystery. Also, if you are a fan of Gothic novels, old or new, or if you like a story with a ‘noir-ish’ atmosphere, this book is one you might want to consider.

Overall, this is my kind of book! A gripping, spellbinding tale and a very impressive debut by Emma Rous
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Great thriller. Will share this one with customers at the store. Excellent read. #thriller #greatread #customerreccomendation
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Very intriguing mystery with strong gothic overtones. The split timeline ups the interest and makes reveals more meaningful by getting more perspective on it. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would.
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A psychological thriller that definitely kept me guessing! I enjoyed the back and forth between the two timelines (one from the POV the modern day woman, and one from the POV of the au pair who watched her family before she was born). There was a little touch of romance which I like, and a little bit of crazy which kept things interesting. I think fans of the genre will enjoy! 

**PS. I got this one on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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In this suspenseful novel, Emma Rous brings together family secrets, mysterious deaths and cursed twins in a compelling mystery with Gothic overtones set in a family estate on the Norfolk coast.

Seraphine Mayes, her twin Danny, and their older brother, Edwin, are grieving over the tragic death of their father.Their father raised them alone because on the day that Seraphine and Danny were born, their mother, Ruth, threw herself off the cliffs near their Norfolk home. As Seraphine is going through her father's belongings, she comes across a photo taken on the day that she and Danny were born. It shows their well dressed, smiling mother next to their father and older brother holding just one baby, not two.  Soon after this picture was taken, their mother killed herself, or did she?

Seraphine has always felt like an outsider in the family because she  doesn't look like her twin. After seeing this picture with only one baby she decides to track down Laura,the au pair, who took care of  their older brother, Edwin. Maybe she has some answers. However Laura doesn't want to talk to her about what went on during that summer of 1992 when the twins were born. 

Her brothers tell her to leave it alone but Laura has to know. The town has always been filled with gossip about their family and their home, Summerbourne. Edwin was also a twin and his brother died. The people in town think that the Summerbourne house and their family might be cursed and they don''t want to talk to Seraphine about what happened back in 1992 either.

The novel shifts between Seraphine in 2017 and Laura, the au pair, in 1992. There are a lot of surprises in this novel and it kept me reading to find out what really happened. I found the ending to be surprising and a little bit implausible but I did enjoy The Au Pair. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.
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Rivetting and one that will not leave you until you finish the book! This book is categorized as a "book hangover."

If you are looking for a gripping and compelling story, grab this one now!
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The Au Pair offers an intriguing mystery and a lovely setting that will pull you in and keep you turning the pages. I really enjoyed the dual time periods. I enjoyed the past setting a bit more, mainly because I preferred the historical POV character to the contemporary one but both time periods are well written and the jumps between flow naturally.
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A twisty tale about twins whose mother throws herself off a cliff right after their birth. But are they really twins? What actually happened? Alas, a slow start and messy plotting marred the suspense. 3 of 5 Stars

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. Pub Date: 08 Jan 2019. #TheAuPair #NetGalley
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The Au Pair is a twisty suspense novel that explores family dramas from the past. This is a great read for fans of Ruth Ware. I enjoyed how this book was written, with chapters alternating between the past and present, featuring two different characters. If you enjoy books that make you want to keep reading, pick up The Au Pair!
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The au pair is a dark, twisted novel that sweeps you away from the first page. Great writing, nice storyline
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Could not get into this book.  The story has promise but lacked any depth.  One of the current very popular thrillers that seem to demand they be quick reads without substance.  My apologies not my cup of tea.
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This one was slow starting for me, even though I was very interested in the plot summary. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Summerborne and the English landscape surrounding it. It was intricate and simple all at once and I really felt I was within the walls of the house alongside Seph. 
I also enjoyed the alternating timelines between past and present. They made for good pacing as the story unfolded. I knew this was a "thriller" but it didn't really feel like one in the usual sense. Things unfolded in such a way that I was just interested in the story, and not so much rushing to get to the resolution, and I appreciated that! After the twists were exposed, I enjoyed reading the resolution and how things ultimately ended in the book.
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