Reduced to picking up men in bars in hopes of trading sexual favors for a meal, Ella is definitely down on her luck. So when an offer comes to work as a nanny for a wealthy young couple, she jumps at the chance. But the job may cost more than she bargained for.
Ensconced in a lovely town house between Park and Lexington avenues, Lonnie and James seem to have everything Ella never had. Both women lost their mothers early, but Lonnie’s died young, leaving her to the care of an overbearing father and private school, while Ella’s simply packed up and left. Instead of struggling to make rent, Lonnie luxuriates in writing, easily living off her own trust fund and James’ work in finance. Yet Lonnie seems to invite disaster, trysting with their friend Carlow practically under James’ nose. Soon Ella finds herself drawn into games of sexual risk, assumed identities, and drug-addled escapades. With each character unstable and unreliable, Stevens’ debut novel shimmers with tension. Ella isn’t simply a damsel in distress; she might be a villain herself. Stealing mementos from Lonnie’s closet, borrowing her clothes, reading (and rewriting) her journal (not-so-cleverly hidden in the freezer)—Ella treasures these souvenirs, squirreling away rings and someone else’s memories with equal abandon. What everyone in this novel wants is both crystal clear—money, power, attention—and deliciously obscure. Why is Ella so drawn to Lonnie? Why is Lonnie so eager to pull Ella into a tangled web of marital and extramarital relationships? Stevens delicately pulls the threads together, ever so slowly, until a fateful night strangles any possibility of changing the course of anyone’s fate. And then Lonnie disappears.
A darkly glittering jewel from a promising new voice in thrillers.