I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Harlequin Audio (December 28, 2021)
Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
Outwardly, Cam and Jade Lasky appear to have it all, he a celebrity chef and owner of a rapidly growing chain of swanky steakhouses across Atlanta, and she a talented interior designer who now is a supermom raising their two children. Little does Jade know though, Cam’s restaurant business isn’t doing as well as he is leading her to believe, with the expenses piling up and him drowning in debt.
One day, she returns home with her son and daughter to find a masked gunman waiting for her, threatening to kill them all unless she does exactly what he says. First, Jade is instructed to call her husband, following an exact script. Cam must be told not alert the police. If there’s even a hint of sirens, the masked man promises that bullets will start to fly. Next—and this part is very specific—Cam must pay a total ransom of $734,296 to set his family free, no more, no less. He is to bring the money to the house by a specific time that evening, or Jade and the kids will die.
Considering the entire story is told in retrospect, since it is revealed at the beginning that Cam is being interviewed by a media outlet about past events, there was still loads of suspense and surprises aplenty in My Darling Husband. But even as these brief interludes pop up now and then to show that it is Cam being interviewed, the most harrowing moments, the ones seen from inside the house during the hours-long hostage situation, are told from Jade’s point of view.
These chapters had my heart pounding, my skin crawling for several reasons. As if being a victim of a home invasion isn’t bad enough, imagine having your young children with you. Jade’s situation is a nightmare scenario one hopes never to find themselves in, and as much as I ended up second guessing a lot of her actions, I have to say the fear and desperation throughout the book felt discomfortingly real, urgent, and at times even hopeless. At many points, Jade becomes the selfless mother who ceases to be concerned about her own wellbeing, putting all her efforts in ensuring that her children would survive instead, and with that also comes the gut-wrenching realization that if anything happened to them, it would be her fault. Her failure.
Needless to say, the author did a fantastic job on the “fierce lioness protecting her cubs” angle, and in fact, it may be the most noteworthy aspect of this entire novel, along with perhaps the addition of Cam and Jade’s brave 9-year-old daughter Beatrice, who was also a highlight. Otherwise, My Darling Husband is by no means a groundbreaking thriller, retreading familiar ground, like hidden pasts or secrets kept from spouses. I also think some of the major twists and the final reveal lacked oomph, but that might be because I feel the author played her hand too early on them. You see, every so often we would get chapters from Cam, and even from the masked gunman himself. On some level, I understood why this had to be done, if the goal was to slowly fill in the missing gaps in our knowledge and answer the whats, hows, and whys. Still, I think that had the effect of taking the mystery away too quickly.
The story was engaging though, and the pace moved quickly. And when it comes to thrillers, sometimes that’s enough. Great performance as well by narrators Natalie Duke, Seth Podowitz, and Charlie Kevin on the audiobook edition; they read their parts well, and it’s always a more immersive experience when there are multiple readers.