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Nicola Rayner Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Girl Before You (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
You and Me (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Woman; Nonromantic (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Nicola Rayner
Nicola Rayner is a mystery writer and a freelance journalist recognized for her debut novel The Girl Before You. The South Wales born writer is already making waves in the writing industry, and she was a Cheltenham First Novel Competition runner-up in 2018. In journalism, Rayner specializes in travel and dance. The author is currently based in London, where she lives with her husband and Jack Russell.

The Girl Before You
The Girl Before You is a thrilling story that stars Alice, a woman who has several answered questions about her husband’s past. Alice is married to George Bell; a politician turned TV personality. George has a reputation for being a women’s man, which started when he was in university. It seems that his charm and way with words attracted women. However, there are enough people who thought that George was entitled, and this made them hate him. While Alice heard enough about him when the two were in college, she goes ahead to marry him.

The thought of him and other girls do not leave her mind, though, and when she becomes pregnant, digging up George’s past turns into an obsession. Alice is quite uneasy, and she cannot shake the thought that George is hiding something. She starts by asking George questions, but he is clearly uncomfortable talking about his past with his wife. Why is Alice looking for trouble while the secrets George holds could turn their young lives upside down?

One girl, Alice, is particularly curious about is Ruth, a girl who went missing at the university. When Alice asks George about the girl, he quickly denies it, only to admit that he dated her at some point in the campus. While everyone now presumes that Ruth is dead, Alice thinks that she saw her on a train, and this pushes her to dig even further. What happened to Ruth, and is there a chance that George had anything to do with it? Why did George act defensive when Alice asked him about Ruth? Is there something he knows, and he is not telling? Was it Ruth that Alice saw on the train, and why would she run off and stay away from her family for all those years?

Naomi watches as her sister Ruth gets ready to step out. What she doesn’t know is that this may be the last time she sees her sister. Fifteen years later and no one talks about Ruth anymore. No one would have thought about it wasn’t it for Alice’s unsettled feeling. Obviously, Naomi is hugely affected by the disappearance, but the pain eases up as the years pass by. After 15 years, most of the bitterness is gone, but a part of her still yearns for answers. Just what happened to her sister after the ball? How can one just disappear, and not even her body is recovered fifteen years later? While it was said that Ruth drowned, why does she feel there is more to her sister’s disappearance?

Alice’s search for the truth reveals some secrets that those who kept them wished would never come out. Will her marriage survive these revelations? While the main focus is on Ruth, the story also reveals a lot about the characters, the kind of life they had on campus, and their lives as they struggled to deal with Ruth’s disappearance. One question that will linger in your mind is why Alice decided to go ahead and marry George when it is clear that she did not trust him much. Why is developing cold feet when there is already a baby on the way?

This story is told from different points of view and with different timelines. Aside from Alice’s point of view, you will also get to hear from Naomi and Kat, Ruth’s best friend. Kat and Naomi tell about their struggles dealing with Ruth’s disappearance, and it feels like they are yet to come to terms with what really happened. The author moves back to the past when George, Alice, Ruth, and Kat were in university together. They had a lot of fun together and but also made a lot of mistakes. This trip to the past end on the night the red-haired beauty goes missing. What happened on that fateful night? This story reveals a lot about George and Ruth’s past, which is quite colorful.

While the women telling this story are unrelated, their narratives merge beautifully without heaving any gaps. As the author delves into their pasts, she explores the feelings of teenagers and the changes that happen as they grow up. From being party animals and living recklessly, the characters have grown to see some of the errors they made while younger.

This book is characterized by entitled characters who grow to become more responsible in adulthood, unsettling disappearances, and uncomfortable subjects. However, the author narrates the story beautifully so that every piece adds a little sophistication to the story. The pace starts slow put rises quickly as the story progresses. Thanks to the intriguing themes and the flawless narration, this story will hold your attention from the first page, and it will not ease up until you have read the book to the end. Away from the story, the author’s narration is also outstanding. The shifts between the past and the present are done well and help build the momentum.

The Girl Before You is a book about secrets, friendships, and marriage. Everything from the memories shared amongst siblings to the secrets shared amongst besties is discussed here. The secrets push the suspense a notch higher, and the author will have you guessing to the end. This is one of those stories that captivate you so much they leave you in a hypnotic state. It helps that it only comes with a handful of characters, so it is easy to follow the story even when the author keeps going back in time. In the end, the author wraps the mystery and the parallel characters beautifully, and no thread is left hanging. This is an excellent read for any mystery books fan.

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