Review: The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton

cover234895-mediumIt’s an offer she can’t refuse…and might not survive.

Charlotte has an unsavory past, but she’s on the straight and narrow these days. She was so young then—she married the wrong man, falling for Sam’s sweet-talking charm and charisma, and got caught up in his con artist games.

If only she’d left him before things went too far.

Now Sam is missing. But before he disappeared, he left urgent, cryptic messages about someone threatening him—someone who has been threatening Charlotte, too.

So Charlotte takes a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party aboard a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella, to get far away from anyone who means her harm.

But as the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations, increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. Someone knows what Charlotte did. Is it the blushing bride? The seemingly placid mother-in-law? Or the mysterious heiress?

Someone knows, and someone wants revenge—before the ship reaches its final port.

I don’t know why, but I love the kind of mystery where one person goes missing and all the clues and/or motivations for the mystery rely on that one character who is out of reach.  Maybe it’s the search for answers more than the search for the missing person that attracts me.  Either way, I really enjoyed this novel for that reason.

Charlotte is an interesting character.  In the beginning, she comes off as repentant and driven to make a better life for herself.  About halfway through the book, however, her real feelings start to show.  She’s really not a very likable character, but I can respect her drive.  She wanted to live the high life and she did everything she could to make that dream come true.  Including conning innocent people that she and Sam deemed worthy.

Sam also came off as sweet and charming at first, but I’m sure that was intentional.  To show us how easy it was to fall for him, and to garner sympathy for Charlotte.  It worked, too, because even though I was done with Charlotte by the end, I did feel bad for all that he coerced her into.  My only regret is that we don’t get his perspective on any of it.  Which makes sense, but I think it’d be interesting to see how he perceived his actions.

This is the second novel of Karen Hamilton’s I’ve read.  My first was The Perfect Girlfriend, which I also enjoyed immensely.  She has a way of grabbing your attention and holding it, making you eager to find out what the heck is really going on.  The mystery of Sam’s disappearance, of who orchestrated it all, is a great example of that.  I’ll definitely be reading more of the author’s work in the future.

*Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an advanced copy of this book.

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