The secret mother is as much a story of hope as it is of past catching up with the present. Tessa's life while ridden with grief & denial is still something that she has not given up on. Her resolve to maintain normalcy is apparent in the mundane things like her job, her interactions with her colleagues or her insistence on eating even if for sustenance. All of these demonstrate a strength of character which makes the story enjoyable to read & keeps the protagonist far from the grasp of pity (this though she has her weak moments). The setup, the plot & the characters are all well defined. Though the proverbial twist in the tale was not unexpected the plotkeeps you engaged throughout. I think this is as much a chick-lit novel as a psychological thriller & engrossing on both counts.
I've read all of Shalini Boland's earlier thriller style novels and I must say that she has a great knack of creating suspense and getting your heart racing.
Tessa Markham arrives home to find a little boy in her house who insists on calling her his new mummy. Her automatic reaction is to call her estranged husband, Scott, who she is secretly hoping to get back together with. Scott gives her short shrift and implies that she might have 'taken' a child and because of her mental state forgotten what she's done. Tessa has had a terrible few years following the death of one of her twins at birth and then the remaining twin son died at age three. She is in a sad place after her split from Scott and it's easy to say that she is emotionally unstable.
We feel the emotional heartache of Tessa's situation with the police seriously thinking she has abducted the child and the pressure is exacerbated by the media camping outside her house and workplace once the story hits the headlines. She does get a glimmer of a lifeline from the most unexpected of people, but at the same time I was screaming 'don't do it' as she pursued this lifeline.
This is one of those books that you don't want to put down, it really is a page turner and the suspense got my heart racing reading in bed – not a good time. I woke with the story so far in my head and couldn't wait to get into it the next day. Parts were a bit predictable and I did have a suspicion of the ending, but this didn't distract from the need to find out for myself how it ended.