An Inconvenient Woman, Stephanie Buelens: A Review
Both the cover and the blurb for this book caught my attention. Admittedly, I'm a *HUGE* fan of Ray Donovan, and finding a book with a female fixer sounded so intriguing. I quickly dove in.
Told in alternating POVs, Sloan is an ex-cop and Hollywood fixer--a self-titled "sin eater"--who uses her intelligence and wits to solve problems--and in this case, she's hired by Simon to protect him from his ex-wife, Claire. Claire is a depressed woman, unstable and obsessed with the death of her teenage daughter, convinced her ex-husband Simon is ultimately responsible for her demise. Unable to move past this, she fears for Simon's new fiancees daughter and is determined to stop him before the unthinkable can happen again.
For starters, I really enjoyed this book. Claire was a wonderful unreliable narrator, full of the perfect amount of self-doubt and shady actions to keep us guessing at how much we can trust her (in terms of both her account of what happened with Simon and in her present situation). She's timid and paranoid, believing she's being followed, threatened, and pursued by Simon and his wealth of connections. Sloan is equally fascinating, and while she didn't end up being a Ray Donovan, she was certainly a Lena--a tough woman dealing with her own personal demons who is morally ambiguous with a heart of gold.
There were a few areas I found questionable: one being Claire's job as a French tutor. This threw me a bit at first because of how prevalent apps like Duolingo have become for learning a language. I found myself questioning how all these people would hire her, but as I read more, I could see the need her clients had: face to face connection, loneliness, control--all of these made sense, so it ended up being one of my favorite character traits about Claire. I minored in French, spent some time in Paris in my 20s, and loved the inclusion of the vocabulary and translation lessons. Plus de francais, s'il vous plait.
My only other issue was that, at times, Claire and Sloan's voices were almost indiscernible. They both think in flowery language, full of rich imagery and metaphors. They are both excellent at not only reading people but discerning what other people's actions mean in terms of their desires and motivations. While their histories were different, their thought processes and dialogue were a little too similar.
An Inconvenient Woman is a story about overcoming grief and believing women, and Buelens' storytelling is effortless.
Overall, An Inconvenient Woman is a gritty, tragic, un-put-downable read that will leave you questioning the truth until the very last page. I would recommend this title to anyone interested in thrillers with an international twist, fans of Ray Donovan, or anyone looking for two strong female protagonists with competing interests.
Thank you to Penzler (Scarlet) and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.