Cover Image: False Step

False Step

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Member Reviews

Excellent psychological thriller.  It moved at a fast pace with lots of twists throughout and had well-developed characters.  Highly recommend!
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Victoria Stone has built a community and peopled it with well defined characters.  The book starts in the middle of the story with a rescue of a lost child.  You learn the background and personal history of the main characters and then you are thrown into the thriller with the truth the characters are trying to hide.  The story takes some definite turns once the media spotlights an everyday family that is suddenly no so everyday.  Good read that will have you looking at your neighbors a little differently.
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The description of this book was really great which is why I was drawn to read it. However, I believe that my reading experience can sometimes ruin books for me. I’m so cultured with thrillers and murder mysteries that I can usually figure out the culprit at the halfway point or before. It totally sucks because it ruins the book for me. That’s what happened with this book. I knew where Victoria was going with this and I felt that if I hadn’t known, I would’ve rated it higher.

Others might feel different but I wasn’t surprised so it was only a two star for me.
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When a little boy goes missing, the entire town tries to find him.  Thought to have wandered away, Johnny finds the boy just off of a hiking trail.  Everyone begins to celebrate the local hero, but slowly things don’t seem to be making sense.  Johnny’s wife, Veronica starts asking questions, and is not ready for the answers that she finds. 
Highly recommended! A quick read that hooks the readers! 

*I received this advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley, Victoria Helen Stone and Lake Union Publishing for the free e-book in exchange for a honest review.

For days everyone was worried about the fate of the missing child, Tanner; and then by a miracle Johnny, a athletic father finds him unharmed but frightened on a hiking trail miles from where he went missing. Quickly Johnny goes from a financially strapped trainer to a hailed hero. But the heat of the fame is too hot for his family, and his wife Victoria despises the pressure that goes with the fame. Mostly she’s afraid that the secrets and bitter resentments of the marriage will come to light and she’s willing to do whatever she needs to to keep them hidden. Then an even darker side of the missing child comes out and Victoria realizes she can’t trust anything in her life.

This one starts right off with the missing boy and Johnny being a hero and I liked how we got right into the thick of things. But then we find out how much trouble there is in Victoria and Johnny’s marriage and that’s what most of this novel is about. I did like the few twists that are scattered throughout the novel, but I generally didn’t like either of the characters and really felt bad for their daughter. There is a lot of lying and cheating in this novel and it seemed more like a domestic thriller to me than I was expecting. I definitely wasn’t in love with this one like I was like Jane Doe and I wish there had been a bit more action and that I hadn’t seen the ending coming. However, if you like domestic thrillers, this is definitely one for you
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley!

I have to agree with another review that the beginning of the book was SLOW and could have been condensed to make this book shorter and quicker paced.   BUT, the rest of the book really was great.     

Veronica & Johnny are in a loveless marriage, and veronica is bored out of her mind.     Johnny is a narcissist.   They  married solely because Veronica was pregnant.    Veronica clearly has some daddy issues, which add to her character clearly.   
Johnny "finds" a missing child while out on a hike one day which means the press is hailing him as a hero.      Veronica isn't welcoming of t he press, because, surprise... she's keeping secrets... and then bam, surprise surprise, Johnny has his own secrets.  

What are the secrets?      Read to find out.
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This book was way too long for what it was.  I feel like it would have packed more punch as a short story because so much of the beginning was just unnecessary and boring. 

Veronica is bored as fuck in her loveless marriage to her high school sweetheart Johnny, who she married after finding out she was pregnant and then later found out Johnny is a narcissist.  It's been ten years and she's literally counting the days until her daughter is old enough to "handle" them divorcing. *eye roll* As a child of divorce myself I hate when people think it fucks up the kids....it's more fucked up to stay together and your kids totally can see that! Anyways, apparently her daughter was really messed up over Veronica's parent's divorce, but they never really explain why or how and so we are left to wonder. The kid is just a side note who seems sheltered and annoying tbh. Veronica has daddy-issues and wonders to herself about them frequently.

Johnny is a personal trainer who happens to discover a missing child of a wealthy family on a hike one day and then omg the press are out in full force to make him into a hero and Veronica is very much not into it and wants it all to go away because she's a grump and also keeping a typical secret form her hubby.  Hubby is keeping secrets of his own and wow the kid being discovered wasn't so random after all.

I expected so much more after reading and loving Jane Doe, but this was such a run-of-the-mill thriller with a predictable plot that I yawned my way through it waiting and wanting more than it provided. 
False Step? More like False Start.
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Thank you for Lake Union Publishing, Little Bird Publicity, and Amazon Publishing for providing me with a finished copy of False Step for review. Overall, I would give this book 3/5 stars. What I liked about this story: it was fast-paced and entertaining. The plot was interesting, and I always love a good domestic thriller. The reason why I am not giving it more stars: I think I have been reading too many thrillers lately. I did find most of the story predictable and I was able to predict the outcome from very early on. I have a very low tolerance for cheating in books, and I disliked that about the plot. I have previously read and enjoyed Jane Doe by this author. This one, although I knew it was a completely unrelated story, kind of disappointed me. However, I will still pick up the next book, Problem Child, by this author. I think there are people who will enjoy this story, and for me, it was an average read; I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.
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When Johnny finds the missing child Tanner Holcomb near a trail that he was hiking on and brings him home, he becomes an instant celebrity.  His wife Veronica doesn't like the spotlight shined on their family.  She is hiding a secret.....she is having an affair with Johnny's best friend.  When the police continue asking Johnny questions and start questioning Veronica as well, she wonders if his finding the child was a lucky coincidence after all.

I have to admit I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  The description made me think there were all sorts of deep, dark secrets Veronica was hiding.  It seemed to drag at points but overall the story was good, just not great.
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I had a hard time getting into this at first. Veronica seemed so paranoid and off at first that it threw me off of her and didn't let me sympathize with her until well into the book. I think had she actually been caught up in Johnny finding that little boy, with just a little wiggle of doubt that all his fame would cause more cheating, like once the fan page was brought up, that would have made her more of a sympathetic main character. But, her actions and words came off wrong in the beginning and made her just seem paranoid and untrustworthy.  I honestly couldn't stand her as a character at first and thought I wasn't going to actually enjoy the book since the characters are my main concern when reading. It took me until about page 70, and well into her own secrets, to finally begin to enjoy her and feel some sympathy towards her instead of just harboring disdain for her.

But once I got into it, I couldn't get out. It made me wish I had pushed through the beginning more because I truly ended up enjoying this one. I never saw that ending coming. I was too caught up in the moment and thinking of Veronica to even consider something else. And honestly, it broke my heart a little to learn the truth behind the kidnapping!

Part of me was really hoping for a happy ending but the two possibilities I had for one were both quickly dashed. Leaving me feeling as defeated as Veronica was.  This was a different kind of story, it was fresh and didn't seem to be a spin on anything else that I've read so far. I loved it. I can't wait to read more from her.
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Great premise. Stone creates hateful characters in a very skillful way. I found myself disliking everyone.
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I’m a sucker for a good suspenseful story. False Step by Victoria Helen Stone seemed to fit the bill so I gave it a chance.

The biggest stumbling block that I had with False Step is that I didn’t particularly like and/or care about any of the characters. They could have easily been swapped out for anyone else and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference for me. In fact, I pretty much didn’t care for Veronica at all. She was pretty selfish.

What I didn’t like about the characters Stone made up for in writing and pacing. I honestly had a hard time putting this one down. It opened with a rescue of a missing boy and rode that momentum throughout. It never got boring and I was always needing to know what was going to happen next. Plot definitely drove this storyline for me.

I never once suspected who the villain behind it all was. That’s always a plus in my book. It definitely shows that we mostly see people either how we’re told to see them or how we want and/or need to see them.

False Step by Victoria Helen Stone was a quick read and I’ll definitely pick Stone up again.
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Three year old Tanner Holcomb has been missing for three days and the community of Denver is praying for his safe return to his family.

Veronica Bradley is at work when a news story breaks that Tanner has been found off a nearby hiking trail.  The local hero that stumbled upon the boy was none other than her husband Johnny who was out hiking with their dog.  Veronica is less than thrilled off the media attention her family is receiving.  Being in the spotlight means that certain secrets in her marriage may come to light.  

When the police discover the boy was actually kidnapped and the family had paid a ransom for his safe return- her husband’s actions now seem very suspicious.  Was her husband just in the right place at the right time, or was he involved in the kidnapping?  As her family is being scrutinized, she worries what the police will discover about their marriage and their financial state. The secrets and lies run deep in this marriage and nothing is what it seems. 

False Step was entertaining and addictive.  And even though I saw some of the twists coming- I still enjoyed the suspense and the big twist revealed in the final chapters.

Thank you @netgalley for this copy.  This book was published July 1, 2019, if you enjoy a domestic thriller- this is the book for you!
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I'm a HUGE domestic/psychological/mystery thriller junkie, This book is an addictive read. I found myself staying up late into the night just to finish. I really enjoyed it.
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Wow a twisty turner thriller full of shocks and surprises.So well written so tense an author to follow. For lovers of unputdownable reads Grab this book, # netgalley #lakeunionpublishing,
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Exciting, but unfortunately predictable. I unfortunately knew who was behind the plot very early on which did not want to make me read it as thoroughly as I normally would. 
While out hiking, Johnny mysteriously finds a 3 year old missing boy. He claims it was just happenstance, however his wife Veronica suspects there is more to the story. When the police start questioning Veronica about hers and Johnny's whereabouts on the day the boy was found, she starts to dig deeper. Meanwhile, unhappy in her marriage, Veronica has an affair with Johnny's best friend Micah. As the story unfolds, Veronica starts finding more and more clues that her husband may be involved not just in the boy's recovery, but also in his kidnapping as well. When she finds 50K in cash hidden in the basement, her suspicions are all but confirmed. However what she doesn't know is that Johnny wasn't acting alone. If you are good at reading clues, you will have an idea by mid story who the culprits are...
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I loved Stone's "Jane Doe," so I was very excited for this one. While quite different from Jane, it was still an engaging story of domestic suspense with compelling characters and surprise twists. I how Stone manages such clever writing, moments of cheeky almost-humor that keep the story from feeling too dark and set her apart from other thriller writers. I look forward to more from her in the future!
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This is my second book by Victoria Helen Stone and I absolutely adore her writing style. It's a lot of "Show, don't tell" with witty and sarcastic comments here and there. 

Regarding the story where we're following Veronica struggling with her marriage, I was a bit disappointed. From the book's summary I expected more thriller elements, more (and far more shocking) lies and betrayals. However, I think that the problems and secrets in this marriage are -for the most part- quite common and I like how they are dealt with. 
In the first half of the novel, Veronica tries to come to terms with the estrangement from her husband and teases us with having secrets of her own (which turns out to be not shocking at all). She's the epitome of a desperate housewife dealing with the situation in a realistic and plausible way which made her a highly believable character.
There was a bit more action in the second half of the book, but nothing groundbreaking.

False Step is a solid domestic thriller, but a bit too slow paced for me. I'd definitely give it a try if you appreciate good writing though.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing the ARC.
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Favorite Quotes:

Her job was to help people regain remedial skills, and very few clients were thrilled to have that opportunity. 

She’d suspected Johnny of cheating plenty of times, but as far as she knew, it had only happened once. Just once… As for that one time? Well, she’d forgiven him. Or she thought she had. It turned out that frantically gluing the broken pieces of a marriage back together didn’t make for the tightest hold. 

Her daughter didn’t notice or didn’t care, and that was a blessing. Children were naturally selfish. Their selfishness protected them from noticing the rough currents of life that pulled in all directions. But they noticed the rapids. They knew when they were being sucked under.

There were crimes anyone might commit, like jaywalking or smuggling a really cool rock home from a national park. Then there were certain crimes you could assign to people you knew well. Trish, for instance, might steal a campaign sign from a bigoted school board candidate and throw it in the trash if no one was looking. 

“Mom, though … I swear to God, Veronica, I think she imagined that Fatima and I would have twice as many grandkids because we have two wombs.” “It’s the clear benefit of having a lesbian daughter, Trish. Extra incubation space.”

My Review:

 I’m a bit conflicted on how to rate and feel about this one.  The characters were not at all likable or trustworthy as they were actually quite selfish and contemptible, yet my curiosity was tipped and I wanted to know how their story would shake out.  The intriguing storylines and subplots were slowly exposed with steadily rising levels of angst and uncertainty over a variety of stressors. Suspected serial spousal infidelities, as well as her own current cheating, were but one of many concerns the highly anxious and deeply resentful main character of Veronica was constantly obsessing over.  Her husband’s heroics of finding a lost child brought immediate media attention as well as police scrutiny to her home, resulting in additional complications and spirals of anxiety, and for good reason.  The writing and storylines were taut with tension, tragedy, unexpected twists and turns, and an occasional greatly appreciated glimpse of wit.
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I had heard great things about the author's previous book, Jane Doe, which was on my TBR, so I was incredibly excited to be contacted for the opportunity to read and review this new book. 

From the very beginning, a disarming tone is set up that suggests not everything is what it seems. From the details and outcome of the kidnapping to the Bradley's relationship and marriage, happiness is futile. In much the same vein as books like THE LAST MRS. PARRISH and GONE GIRL, these characters are unlikeable and unreliable. They don't trust each other and we can't trust them. 

"She loved having secrets. She loved that no one in her life knew everything about her. She was a puzzle, and only she had all the pieces."

This certainly made for an interesting dynamic in the journey as we followed Veronica to the shocking truth! Although I knew there was going to be a twist, it was truly hard to pin down until it ultimately happened. 

"She wasn't above suspicion so much as below notice, and these days that was just fine with her."

The tension is fantastically built as Veronica slowly tries to figure out what is going on; however, the pacing tended to slow down considerably as she spent a lot of time dwelling on how the various men in her life regarded women. This isn't to say that those reflections aren't important as each moment is incredibly thought-provoking. Compelling conversations regarding mother-daughter relationships could certainly be discussed from the interactions that occur or the memories that are referenced within the story; however, Veronica never vocalizes these thoughts to anyone. Rather than being honest and opening herself up to that vulnerability, these generational problems continue, and unfortunately, Sydney, Veronica's daughter, will become its latest victim. 

"But she'd set aside her own hurt for her children. That was what mothers did."

The author's writing style while measured is quite captivating and voyeuristic, luring you into the gritty realities these characters have created for themselves. You don't want to watch, but you can't turn away. There are a few graphic sex scenes, but nothing is overly gratuitous or descriptive. As Veronica's worries mount and Johnny's decisions come home to roost, the story weaves together the selfishness of two self-described selfless individuals. 

As the betrayals build up, the pages will fly! And ultimately, these convoluted and conflicted relationships unravel into an unforgettable and grisly conclusion that shouldn't be missed!
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