The story begins with Ella Hope, alone and exposed following a brutal attack by an unknown assailant. Her memories of the night before are hazy at best, but she is sure that her attacker is the man with whom she had been on a date with the previous evening. A man who has already been linked to the mysterious deaths of two other women. As she wills herself to survive, she promises that if she does, she will uncover the truth.
A thriller/romance hybrid, The Fake Date is full of mystery, suspense and, of course romance! The thriller side I found to be a bit of a slow burn, the author doesn’t immediately bombard the reader with every character who is in the frame, instead different suspects are rolled out slowly and tantalisingly over a much longer period of time, and the narrative is seen through their point of view, giving the reader much more to work on when trying to unravel the mystery themselves. I particularly enjoyed the italicised interjections from the killer/attacker themselves which really played with the mind and sent my brain into overdrive! I found it a really clever ploy, as often with a thriller too much information and too many characters are introduced early on leaving the reader to play catch up. The Fake Date unrolls at a wonderful pace, teasing its reader to the last chapter.
The romance element of the novel is done really well. I really believed the developing relationship between Ella and Will and I really felt for her character as she struggled to know who to trust post-attack. Her reactions to the world around her felt completely valid and realistic.
The characters are brilliant. Well drawn and utterly believable. From the over friendly farmer, right through to the killer themselves, they each have their own story to tell. Indeed, I found the killer to be an intriguing character (without giving anything away, of course!) and despite their actions, I actually felt sympathy for them by the end.
There is so much to enjoy about this novel; the story is delivered in a style which is both engaging and compelling and I found that I connected with the characters almost instantly. Whilst I enjoyed reading the novel in its entirety, it wasn’t until around halfway through that I became truly obsessed with finding out what happened next, even postponing sleep to find out the ending!
My only slight bugbear with The Fake Date is that I felt Will stole Ella’s thunder a little. I really wanted her to take ownership of her own story a little more, be less of a victim and more of the heroine of the piece. This is a very personal opinion however, and it didn’t impact on how much I thoroughly enjoyed the novel! I will be looking out for more novels by Lynda Stacey in the future.
Nine hours and eleven minutes …
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead.
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly.
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill?
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive …
About the Author
Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire and went to both Bentley New Village School, and Don Valley High School.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.
Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.
*I received a copy of The Fake Date from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.