Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean #BookReview #PublicationDayPush

He abducted her. He fell in love with her. He helped her escape. Can she trust him?

Sarah Evans has returned home after being abducted and held in a dilapidated farmhouse by a group of men.

With her is Martin, who turned against the other men to help her escape. He says he’s not like them, and claims to be in love with her.

Can Sarah trust Martin? Does she share his feelings? Or should she listen to her father, himself deceitful and abusive, and turn her back on the relationship?

Sea of Lies is a chilling psychological thriller about secrets, trust, and a family falling apart.

A standalone sequel to Thicker Than Water

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Publication Day Push for Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean today. Many thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

Sea of Lies takes place immediately after the events in Thicker Than Water; it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel although I strongly recommend you read the first novel because otherwise you're missing out on a really gripping story! Sarah Evans was introduced in that book and played an important role but this time she becomes the main focus of the story, alongside her parents, Dawn and Ted, and Martin - the man who was involved in her abduction but then helped her to escape. Sarah's safe return should mean a joyous reconciliation with her family despite their challenging living circumstances. Unfortunately for Sarah, life isn't that straightforward.
The Evans family are one of a number of people who were displaced from their homes following devastating floods and have been forced to relocate to a former holiday village on the east coast. Their fragile community already fears the wrath of locals who resent these incomers and they don't trust the police who have been far from supportive in the past. The relief felt when Sarah and the other women who were abducted return home soon gives way to suspicion and recriminations, particularly when they learn that Martin has returned with her.
Although Sea of Lies has a dystopian setting, it's not a survival story in the sense that many books which deal with the aftermath of devastating social change are. Rather than focus on how society as a whole adapts to the new situation, Rachel McLean explores how an already dysfunctional family deals with a deeply traumatic event under extraordinary conditions. It's clear that Sarah has been stifled by an over-protective upbringing and hasn't been allowed the freedoms given to most young women of her age. While her recent experiences were terrifying they have also served as a catalyst, causing her to realise that she wants more. I grew to really like this courageous young woman who was forced to grow up on the road as her family fled their home. Initial impressions may be that she is too passive and is a character to be pitied rather than admired but over the course of the book, she takes some brave risks. She is also prepared to voice her questions and doubts until she is ready to fight for what she believes to be right.
Meanwhile, her mother, Dawn is a more difficult character to understand. In Thicker Than Water, I respected her quiet strength in managing her husband's moods but a more sinister side is revealed here which made me question my feelings towards her at times. The two men who feature most in Sarah's life - Ted and Martin both have their own dark secrets and it's up to Sarah to decide who she can most trust. There are some scenes in the book which are really quite chilling with the ominous foreboding of imminent violence being particularly unsettling.
The arrival of the police in the village exposes further secrets and with the fate of more than one character in the balance, I was intrigued to discover the truth amidst the lies, shame and anger. One of my favourite characters from Thicker Than Water, Ruth has a smaller role to play here but it's still an important part which helps determine how others behave. I also really liked the inclusion of Bill who is another morally ambiguous character with questionable motives regarding his actions.
Sea of Love is an intelligent and provocative thriller which cleverly explores where our boundaries lie in exceptional circumstances - when is violence necessary or at least excusable and when does it becomes unacceptable? I believe there is going to be a further book set in the village and I'm excited to see what happens next; there is certainly so much scope for more stories about how this disparate group of refugees continue to try to settle into their new homes, together but separated by their secrets and fears. Rachel McLean is firmly on my list of must-read authors and I can't wait to read her next book!

Sea of Lies can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Follow @rararesources on Twitter so you don't miss the posts from my fellow bloggers taking part in the Publication Day Push today.

About the Author

My name's Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.
What does that mean?
In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.
Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?
My books aim to fill that gap.
If you'd like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at I'll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I'll let you know when my books are on offer.
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