Title: Pretty Things
Author: Janelle Brown
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Source: Digital ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley, Audiobook provided by publisher & BookSparks #SRC2020 via Libro.fm
First of all, I listened to this on audio so I want to talk about that a little bit. Audiobooks have not always been my thing because I find it hard to focus, but Pretty Things was an exception for me. (And it also happened to be the audiobook that really turned things around as well.) Between the gripping story and the fantastic performance by both narrators, this audiobook was hard to turn off!
The story follows two women from very different backgrounds. Nina is a grifter, scamming millionaires, stealing their high end pieces from their homes and then selling them. She is coupled with a fellow grifter Lachlan, and Irish man 10 years her senior. Vanessa is an heiress and an Instagram influencer. She has been living off her trust fund and traveling around the world, sharing photos of her wonderful life for the ‘gram.
Nina’s mother has been battling cancer and gets news that the cancer has returned requiring loads more money in treatment and medication. Nina has been waiting to get out of the grifting game, but has to do at least one more big job to get the money to care for her mother. Nina and Lachlan decide to target Vanessa, part of a family from Nina’s past. She lives on Lake Tahoe in a family mansion called Stonehaven and Nina and Lachlan create new identities and rent the caretaker’s cottage on Stonehaven’s property.
However, as Nina and Vanessa spend time together, Nina begins having flashbacks of her time at Lake Tahoe when she was a teenager and her priorities begin shifting. She feels empathy for Vanessa and starts second guessing all of her choices.
The story is told in alternating perspectives between Nina and Vanessa, sometimes showing the same scene but rom the eyes of each woman and we get to see how the change in perspective changes the story. It’s a really great thriller that had me listening in rapt attention the whole way through.
At the beginning of this review I mentioned that this was the audiobook that changed it all for me. I have been absolutely hooked on audiobooks since and have even listened to another story read by Julia Whelan, which I inhaled in much the same way. This book is wonderful no matter how you consume it, but if you have the chance to listen to the audio, I highly recommend it!
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Random House, and Libro.fm for the chance to read/listen to this book!
Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.
Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.
Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.
This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.
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