Popular author Adele Parks examines the over-glamorization of wealth and fame, and the consequences of family secrets in I Invited Her In, a novel released in early 2019. When Melanie is contacted out of the blue after sixteen years by her now-famous friend from University, she is thrilled but uneasy about the reconnection. Ever since dropping out of school due to an unplanned pregnancy, Melanie has felt alienated from those she left behind. She imagines that they have moved on to bigger and better things with more exciting lives than her own. She had been feeling settled and content after her struggles as a single parent, now blessed with a loving husband and two additional children. Her oldest, Liam, has grown into well-adjusted, promising young man due to Mel’s earlier sacrifices. When she hears that t.v. personality Abigail Curtiz is undergoing a very painful and public divorce, Mel invites her old friend to come stay with her family. Abi is as charismatic and gorgeous as Melanie remembers, and Melanie is dazzled by her incredible lifestyle as a wealthy celebrity. Mel’s husband, Ben, is not quite as impressed when he is forced to watch his wife cater to Abi’s every need and defend Abi’s selfishness. Ben is tasked with running the household alone while the two women revert to the irresponsible days of their youth. What Ben doesn’t know is that Mel is motivated to accommodate Abi due to a hidden wrong-doing she has felt guilty about over all those years. Abi also has ulterior motives for their reunion, and it soon becomes apparent that Abi may be purposefully ripping apart the family bonds that Mel and Ben had believed impenetrable. Parks’ novel notches up the tension in the second half when the focus turns to revenge and betrayal, culminating in a violent act that exposes the women’s secrets. I Invited Her In starts slowly and the female characters border on one-dimensional, but the plot accelerates quickly to a neat conclusion. Fans of Parks and contemporary thrillers might enjoy her new offering – it is not very original or deep, but it certainly is an entertaining read.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Mira (Harlequin) Publishing for an ARC copy of this title in return for an unbiased review.