The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

A Gothic Mansion, Twins, and a Long Ago Death

Devastated by the death of her father, Seraphine Mayes finds a photo that starts her on a quest to find out what happened on the day she and her twin brother, Danny, were born, and her mother threw herself off the cliffs surrounding Summerbourne, the Gothic mansion on the coast where the twins grew up. The twins had a series of nannys, but not Laura, the nanny who cared for their older brother, Edwin, and ran away on the day their mother died. It’s a time no one wants to talk about. 

The atmosphere at Summerbourne is both enticing and creepy. You can understand why Seraphine loves the beauty, but feels the tension of underlying secrets. I enjoyed the descriptions of the old estate on the coast. For me, it made the story enjoyable. 

The story is told from the alternating points of view of Laura, 1991, and Seraphine, 2017. Both settings were realistic although I preferred the Summerbourne of 1991 before the tragedy. The estate seemed somewhat dingy and sad in 2017. 

The main characters are good. I found Seraphine’s grief a little overdone, but it drove her to solve the mystery of her birth. The secondary characters, Edwin and his friend Josh, are likable. They are a good foil for Seraphine’s distress. 

If you enjoy romance and mystery with a Gothic undertone, this is a very enjoyable book. 

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
Was this review helpful?
Seraphine and her brother were only hours old when their mother threw herself off a cliff.  She'd been moody and a bit crabby but no one expected suicide.  Was it or wasn't it?

Berkley and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you). It is being published today.

This is a house of secrets.  The children are turning 25 and while Danny is happy with thing the way they are, Seraphine feels like she's not who they've been telling her she is.  When their father falls and dies from his injuries, she feels like she's afloat.  She wants to know why her mother died so she tries to find the Au Pair that was working there at the time of birth.  Some secrets might be better off left that way...

There are new loves, old loves, hidden facts, and even evil plans afoot.  The truth is a very complicated matter and doesn't necessarily make anyone happy.  This house has more complications than Peyton Place.

I don't read a lot of this type of book but I enjoyed the history of the family they shared and the drama kept me glued to the pages until I was done with the book.  There's sadness and happiness both in this story.  If you start reading this, I bet you'll finish it.  Get ready for backstabbing, scandal and murder all mixed in one pot...
Was this review helpful?
The first I had heard of this one was last summer and it was being compared to V. C. Andrews, and that was enough for me to add this to my must read pile. Andrews was one of the first authors I followed closely, I spent at least a couple of years in middle school reading her various series and was totally captivated by her brand of domestic drama and over the top crazy plot lines. Surely my tastes have matured since then, but even so I do still love a family drama with gothic undertones and despite a few minor issues with this one, I can see why the comparison holds weight.
This is told in two timelines, Seraphine in 2017 after she finds an old family picture that raises more than a few questions and then it flips back to Laura when she begins a job as an au pair for Seraphine’s family. Rous is a good writer, there was definitely a dark, moody edge to her style that worked for me, but along with that melancholy vibe came a pretty slow pace. It did pick up some in the end, but this does require some patience for most of the book.
This does require the reader to suspend some disbelief in the end, I did kind of shake my head at a few reveals, but if that doesn’t bother you, this will be perfect. There were shocking revelations for sure, just don’t look too deep and ask too many questions and you’ll enjoy the ride!
Was this review helpful?
I'm not ashamed to admit it's been awhile since I've been this excited to try not only a new author, but to start a mystery that sounded so compelling.

I was right to be excited about both. 

I. Could. Not. Put. This. Down. 

Every bit the page turner that the synopsis promised to be, it was tantalizing, intriguing, thought provoking and irresistible. I needed to know all the details of both the past and the present. In Short, I just needed it all.

The Au Pair was well written and flowed seamlessly through both the past and the present and each was just as entertaining and intriguing as the last. 
As the chapters went on and more and more of the mystery unfolded, I found that I was constantly guessing what was about to happen next and wondering if I was right about who exactly the twins were and in some instances, hoping I was wrong. 

With twists and turns that kept me on my toes and on constantly on edge, this truly has been one of my favorite mystery reads of 2019 and one I won't be forgetting soon.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars
In this gothic suspense tale, Seraphine Mayes searches for her beginnings after finding a picture that disrupts everything she knows about her family.   I really can't say more than what's in the blurb because you'll want to experience this story yourself -- most of the fun here is from the gradual unveiling of what really happened at Summerbourne.

The story is told in alternating points of view -- a chapter from Seraphine in the current time and then a chapter from the au pair in her time, with the creepy cool Summerbourne estate as the place where it all happens. I really did love how this story was told.  It made the events from the past seen up close and personal .  

It takes a few chapters to get to the good stuff, and you'll probably guess some of what is going on, but there was enough to keep me reading and I was a bit surprised with some of the twists and turns that come furiously fast in the final chapters.  I did like the quicker pace of the second half of the book.

There's a great cast of secondary characters in The Au Pair.  I particularly loved Edwin -- he was a bright star among the darkness at Summerbourne in both the early days and current day. His childhood friend Joel was a lovely surprise as well.  The story really revolves around the circumstances of Seraphine and Danny's birth, and as someone who primarily reads contemporary romance, it was nice to have some relationship material in the story as well.

I really did like The Au Pair.  I love a good gothic thriller and The Au Pair hit the bullseye for me. I did find the beginning a bit slow, and there were a few scenes that I would have liked "more" from, but overall, this was a satisfying gothic suspense story that I enjoyed reading.

An ARC was provided for review.
Was this review helpful?
An exquisitely spun web of spellbinding secrets and dark deceit! 

This suspenseful story Will keep you riveted from first line to last... a magical tale that will awaken your imagination and stretch your mind....Emma Rouz has woven together an enchanting story that will make the unbelievable believable....

This book is like a walk on a foggy morning... when you start out you can barely see your hand in front of your face... but as you go on the fog begins to Clear... The path is Windee with some unexpected twists and you may not end up where you originally thought you would.... but every step was SO  worth the satisfying end....

A grande estate, a set of twins, a mysterious photograph, and a rumor of a curse... Seraphine has always felt as though she didn’t quite belong... so when she discovers a picture after her father passes away... A picture with only one baby...Seraphine is more convinced than ever that things are not as she’s been told her entire life.... is the baby in the picture her or her twin brother Danny? And why are both babies not in the picture? And how can her mother look so happy when merely hours later she takes her own life? So many questions and only one person who knows the answers....

This book was told from duel perspectives... Seraphine and her struggle to finding who she really is... and Laura, The au pair, in 1991 when she was working for the family taking care of Edwin the twins older brother.... both these characters were likable and sympathetic, but I have to admit Laura really stole the show for me.... A better au pair  you could not ask for.... not to mention the girl was thrown into this dysfunctional family’s drama...

A captivating creepy story with a gothic vibe that will keep you glued to those pages! A dark deceptive tail that will leave your mind reeling and your heart racing! An absolute must read! Strongly recommend!

*** huge thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars for a solid debut novel
This is a book that I picked up because it sounded a bit different and I’m glad I did. 
We meet Seraphine shortly after her 25th birthday and shortly after her father’s death. We follow along with her as she investigates a family mystery that heavily involves Laura, the family’s former au pair. 
Told in dual point of view and following dual timelines, the story in The Au Pair is complex and compelling. I have to confess that I didn’t feel a strong affinity for any of the characters, but I was quickly invested in seeing how things played out. 
Heavy on intrigue and just a bit sinister, the story line kept me engaged and curious as to what would happen next and the motives behind the secrecy. I am pleased to say that the end is one I didn’t expect, but found completed everything nicely. 
This is an author whose work I would read again.
Was this review helpful?
The Au Pair is such a great book that I could not put it down.  I do admit that I had to read several parts of the ending a couple of times because all of the various relationships were so confusing - but not in a bad way, more in a “wow, this is twisty, convoluted and amazing” kind of way.  I really enjoyed the characters and the story.  This would make an a great movie too!
Was this review helpful?
Wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book until about the 3rd chapter...then I became hooked.  I was drawn in, trying to figure out what would happen, yet constantly surprised.  I would recommend this highly.  Will look forward to reading more by this author.
Was this review helpful?
I found this an interesting debut novel.  There are a few mysteries that run throughout the story - one is "Just who is everyone in this story?"  All the characters are not whom they seem!  Another mystery is the death of the mother - which happens on the day that she gives birth to twins - and the later death of the father - both deaths are ruled as suicides - but were they really suicides or were they killed because of the secrets of everyone's identities?  There seems to be only one person who can clear up the mysteries and that is the Au Pair who left the family the day the mother died!  The story is told from two points of view and time frames.  Seraphine, one of the daughters, is trying to solve the mystery, in the present time, of just who she is - she never felt quite a real part of the family, and Laura, the Au Pair, tells her story that takes place 25 years earlier.  The ending is a true whirl wind - almost too much of a wild ride for me and one I didn't see coming.  Unique family drama - a fun beach read - and a little suspension of disbelief in the end - different storyline - interesting read!
Was this review helpful?
In Au Pair, twins Seraphine and Danny are born and the same day their mother throws herself off a cliff saying they took my baby. The twins have an older sibling, Danny, who was also a twin. His brother, Theo, fell off the cliff two years earlier.

Year later, their father is killed in a tragic accident. While going through his papers, Seraphine finds a photograph dated with her birthdate of both their parents, Edwin, but only one of the twins. When she asks Edwin if he remembers which twin is pictured, he doesn’t know but that his au pair, Laura, took the picture.

Seraphine decides to find Laura. However, when she eventually finds her, she won’t talk. 

The Au Pair is a suspenseful thriller with a laid back southern gothic vibe. The reader is compelled to keep reading to find out what really happened on the day of Seraphine and Danny’s birth. 

The style of alternating chapters of Seraphine’s current search for answers and Laura’s experiences in the month leading up to the births is a great way to ratchet up the tension. The conclusion is excellent too. Overall, the Au Pair is recommended for all thriller and romantic suspense fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Berkley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book until the implausible ending.  It was just crazy and strange.  Hard to hide a single pregnancy - but twins?  Makes no sense.
Was this review helpful?
Stevie‘s review of The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Contemporary Women’s Mystery Fiction published by Berkley 08 Jan 19

I love it when a really twisty mystery emerges from just one small inconsistency, particularly when that previously missed detail has the characters doubting everything they previously held to be true. Of course, the solution to the mystery has to be properly satisfying for the premise to work properly.


Seraphine Mayes is sorting through old papers in the house where she has lived her entire life, following her father’s sudden death, when she comes across a photograph of her parents holding a newborn baby. It must have been taken on the day she and her twin brother were born – indeed the date on the back tells her as much – since her mother committed suicide mere hours later. Her older brother, who was four at the time, remembers the photograph being taken, but has no idea which twin is shown, or where the other might have been. Concern, based on a long-held fear of being the outsider in a close-knit family, drives Seraphine to seek out the au pair who took the photograph, but initially Laura wants nothing to do with her.

Seraphine resolves to seek answers from others who were living in the area at the time, but for every partial answer she receives, more questions crop up. She knows her mother had mental health issues throughout her marriage, and that was why the family had employed an au pair, and it seems likely that the one other outsider who might be able to help is a family friend, who briefly lived nearby but who left soon after Seraphine’s mother died and dropped all contact with them. As Seraphine becomes aware of threats made towards potential witnesses, and veiled threats are made anonymously towards her as well, unless she drops the investigation, she begins to wonder whether her father’s death was really an accident.

This was a gripping story, told alternately from the viewpoints of Seraphine’s present and Laura’s past. When the solution is presented, everything slots into place very tidily, although I suspect different readers will have their own opinions as to a couple of events that may be interpreted in more than one way each. I’m desperately keen to see what the author comes up with next.

Grade: A
Was this review helpful?
Gothic novels aren't always my thing, but every once in awhile, I find myself craving a story set in a spooky old house on the English moors. Fortunately, the last time I had such a craving, The Au Pair by Emma Rous was here waiting for me, and it was everything I was hoping for and more.

It's no secret that Seraphine Mayes' mother took her own life shortly after giving birth to Seraphine and her twin brother Danny, leaving them along with their five-year-old brother in the care of their distant father and overbearing maternal grandmother, but no one talks about the reasons why. As a child, Seraphine tried to discover what could have driven her mother to such a desperate act, but no one will answer her questions. The only person who might be willing to talk to Seraphine is Laura, the young woman who was hired to be five-year-old Edwin's au pair while Mrs. Mayes was pregnant with the twins, but Laura disappeared without a trace on the day Seraphine and Danny were born, taking Seraphine's only hope of learning the truth with her.

Seraphine is twenty-five when the story opens. Her father has recently died, and Seraphine, Danny and Edwin are doing their best to put his affairs in order. Seraphine wants desperately to inherit Summerbourne, the estate where she grew up, but it seems more likely that one of her brothers will inherit it instead. While going through some of her father's papers, Seraphine comes across a picture of her mother taken just after she gave birth to the twins. She's sitting in the garden, dressed elegantly and holding only one sleeping baby. Everything in the photograph seems off to Seraphine. Why is only one of the twins in the photograph, and what could have prompted the young woman who appeared so happy in it to jump off a cliff just hours after the photograph was taken?

Both Edwin and Danny urge Seraphine not to dwell on the past, but Seraphine finds herself unable to take their advice to heart. She's wondered about the circumstances of her mother's suicide for as long as she can remember, and she's bound and determined to finally have her questions answered. To this end, she begins searching for Laura, unaware of the danger her quest will bring to Summerbourne and those who dwell there.

The story moves seamlessly between past and present, allowing the reader to see things from the perspectives of both Seraphine and the enigmatic Laura. I found both parts of the novel quite intriguing, but I enjoyed Laura's chapters a little bit more than Seraphine's. I could certainly understand Seraphine's burning desire to finally learn the truth about her mother's death, but I wasn't always fond of the methods she employs. She often acts in a reckless manner, and she seemed incapable of considering anyone's wants or needs aside from her own. Luckily, she mellows out as the story progresses and I actually found her to be quite a dynamic heroine by the novel's end.

Laura is the star of the story as far as I'm concerned. She comes to Summerbourne, not really sure what to expect from the Mayes family. She falls in love with Edwin almost immediately, and the scenes that featured the two of them together are some of the best parts of this book. Unfortunately, her relationships with Mr. and Mrs. Mayes are far more complex, but I can't say too much about that without ruining the story for you. Just trust me when I say that the Mayes give Laura far more than she bargained for in both good and bad ways.

Parts of the plot might seem a bit too predictable for some readers, but I was completely captivated from beginning to end. It's true that the story isn't one-hundred percent original, but Ms. Rous takes a somewhat familiar premise and makes it her own, and I admire her for it. The twists she throws in might not appeal to everyone, but I loved the serpentine road I traveled with these characters.

The next time you're in the mood for a gothic tale, I urge you to pick up a copy of The Au Pair. I'm pretty sure you'll fall under its spell like I did, and I'm equally sure you won't regret spending time in the world Ms. Rous has crafted.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo
Visit our Amazon Storefront
Was this review helpful?
Excellent psychological thriller that kept me turning pages- did not want to put this book down! I never would have guessed the ending! There is certainly a lot going on the second half of the book, but I really enjoyed the way everything turned out. I became invested in the characters and just kept wanting to know more! 5 stars for this one! Thank you Berkley publishing and NetGalley for this ARC!
Was this review helpful?
Such a strong start to 2019! This book had me back tracking to take notes. I wanted all the details, and the juicy deception just kept coming! This book sucked me in from page one, and I didn’t want to put it down. A fantastic beach read, or a good book to cozy up with by a fire. A thrilling mystery perfect for any season!
Was this review helpful?
Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “The Au Pair” by Emma Rous, Berkley Press, January 8, 2019

Emma Rous, Author of “The Au Pair” has written a chilling, intense, intriguing, captivating, riveting, page-turning novel. The Genres for this novel are Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Fiction. There is a slight amount of Folklore in this novel as well. The timeline for this story goes twenty five years to the past, and is in the present, when it pertains to the characters or events in the story. The author describes her quirky characters as complex, complicated, dysfunction, suspect and disturbing.

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born at the family estate on the Norfolk Coast. The family is wealthy and have another estate as well. The twins have been mourning their father’s accidental death. In the village there are strange rumors.Their biological mother committed suicide the day the twins were born. There is an older brother Edwin, who was watched very carefully by an Au Pair named Laura.

Seraphine discovers some questionable photographs while going through paperwork that opens the door to all kind of questions. In trying to identify this, Seraphine finds threatening letters. Someone breaks into the house, and more dangerous things are happening. Seraphine is told to back off and stop questioning things, or someone will get hurt.

There are twists and turns, and an edgy intense feeling that something is very wrong. The more Seraphine discovers, the more danger she is in, and the less she understands herself. There is someone from the past that could shed light on what is going on. That could mean shedding light on deep secrets, betrayals, possible murders, and more danger. I recommend this chilling thriller for those readers who enjoy this genre. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Loved it - could not stop reading. The story is told by two different narrators but is easy to follow and very suspenseful. Will recommend to my Ruth Ware readers.
Was this review helpful?
The Au Pair was an unexpected intriguing read that I couldn't put down! 

I found The Au Pair listed as a highly anticipated read of 2019 and then I read the blurb and I knew I needed to read this story! The beginning was slow to hook you, but once it did it slowly took you under it's spell and consumed you.

The plot and the uncertain identities, the feel of someone after you and watching your every move will have you on the edge of seat and on the edge mentally. I thought I had things figured out, but then something would happen to make me question everything! I found myself talking to co-workers and explaining the story to them so that they could help me work this out. (Hint: they were clueless)

The Au Pair told in two points of views and dual timeline. I enjoyed how we were given just a morsel of the story at a time and how when we are reading we are uncovering the story right along with Seraphine. Learning what really happened that summer at Summerbourne was utterly spellbinding.

The entire story was wrapped up beautifully. My only negative thought on this book was that we didn't get a happily ever after. I realize that The Au Pair in NOT a love story, but that doesn't stop my hopeless romantic heart from begging for love story from the pages.
Was this review helpful?
After her father's sudden death, Seraphine decides to investigate her mother, Ruth's, suicide 25 years earlier by tracking down their family's former au pair. Will Laura be able to answer her questions? Or, will she create even more?

While reading, I had fun trying to guess what happened to cause Seraphine's mom to commit suicide on the very same day she birthed her twins, Seraphine and Danny. Did their family friend, Alex, have anything to do with it?

The end was a bit confusing (trying to figure out who was who), but overall I found this debut suspenseful and entertaining. I enjoyed the author's writing style and look forward to more from her.

Location: London and Summerbourne, England

I received an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?