Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Series: Series: Rockton, Book 5
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, Adult, Contemporary
Publication date: February 4, 2020
As the fifth book in this series, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I’ve already fallen in love with the characters and the world that she’s created. I’m already on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what’s going to happen next. But, of course, I feel this way about anything that Armstrong writes.
Knowing how much I love her writing and character building (because, let’s face it, her characters jump off the page with how real they feel), I had no problems going into this story without reading the novel’s synopsis. Yes, I knew generally how this story would play out, but I love going into Armstrong’s stories as blind as possible so that the plot can shock me as much as possible.
In this tale we get to learn more about the world surrounding Rockton. The town itself might be a secret to the rest of the world, but Casey still hasn’t discovered everything that the woods have to offer. I enjoyed seeing her learn more about her new world, to see her open up even more than she had in the past.
This book, like the others in the Rockton series, is fast paced and full of twists and turns. Just when I thought I had the mystery figured out, a new clue would pop up and I’d have to pause to try and fit it into the puzzle before me. I’d highly recommend the AudioBook versions of this series as Therese Plummer does a fantastic job at bringing these characters to life. Her voice acting is phenomenal and added something great to the tale. If you don’t enjoy AudioBooks, then I’d highly recommend picking up a physical or eBook copy of this story as it’s certainly one of my favourite mystery series of all time.
I was shocked – shocked – when Casey stumbled upon the little baby in the snow. Yes, this was very clearly mentioned in the synopsis, but as I mentioned earlier I went into this story blind. I loved getting to see the lengths that Casey and Eric were willing to going to in order to find the baby’s mom, even though it was stepping outside of their jurisdiction. The fact that they were willing to face a family that voluntarily sells themselves for gain – who weren’t very nice people at all – just goes to show the lengths that Casey (and Eric) is willing to go in order to make sure she’s making the correct decision. She (they) could have easily decided not to look further than the dead woman.
Of course, knowing Casey and Eric, there was no way that they were going to rest until they’d found the baby’s mother. Phil and the rest of the council might not have liked the fact that Casey and Eric were traipsing all over the forest and interacting with the settlements in order to solve the case, but I certainly enjoyed reading about it. I loved getting to see the difference between the first and second settlements. I loved learning about the animosity between the two groups and how a select few had decided to hang out in secret.
It was certainly heartbreaking to see the pieces get put together in regards to Felicity, Sidra, Baptiste, and Summer. While we’ve seen people go over the deep end before in this series, there was something seriously wrong with Lane. First of all, people are not “property”. Lane had no claim to Sidra just because he wanted her. Women are not something that men can own, and it’s disgusting that some people still act like this is the case in real life. It’s sad to know that the way Lane acted in this story wasn’t pure fiction, that there are actual people in the world who are willing to treat others like this. Second of all, Lane should have stepped down when Sidra made it clear that she didn’t want to be with him. No means no, no matter the context. And a person can say no at any time.
If a person begins with a yes, they are allowed to change that to a no at any time. The other party must respect that the other person’s stance has changed and step back. I firmly believe that consent is a basic human right. Yes, this may sound a little tangential, but it needs to be said. Lane did not take no for an answer, to the point where he was legitimately killing people in order to make Sidra his. And if he couldn’t get Sidra, no one else was allowed to either. I’m glad that Felicity killed him, because he wasn’t kidding when he said he was never going to stop.
While I can understand the difficulties of having a winter baby living where they were, especially without the help of modern technologies, I really don’t think that abandonment is the right way to go about it. This might be a cultural thing, and the fact that I’ve lived an extremely privileged life compared to many, but I cannot comprehend having a child and being willing to leave that infant to the elements because you’re not going to take care of it. I’m glad that Sidra and Baptiste were not the kind of people to do that.
Something that I really liked about this story was the fact that Eric and Casey confronted their desire to become parents. While it wasn’t something either of them had seriously considered before finding Summer, they seriously thought about it and talked things through with each other. I think that’s something that’s seriously worth mentioning. Yes, Casey might not be able to carry a child to term because of the assault she went through. But both her and Eric were adults about the situation and talked through their plans to potentially have a child in the future. Even more importantly, they discussed the fact that they wanted to wait and that neither of them felt ready to take care of a child of their own. Yes, they’re still at the beginning stages of a relationship where they don’t want to share the other person with anyone else, not even their own flesh and blood, but it’s something that was important to talk about. Besides, they’re basically an old married couple already. I’m glad that they were willing and able to acknowledge the fact that they weren’t in the right place in life to have children of their own.
I also enjoyed the fact that in this novel the characters were finally willing to begin confronting their pasts. Maryanne was finally comfortable enough to share her story with Casey. It was something that Casey needed to hear, but even more importantly it was something that Maryanne needed to tell. She needed to face what’d happened to her. She needed to acknowledge that something horrifying had happened to her, but she was willing to face it head on and more on from it. April’s suggestion of caps must have certainly helped Maryanne as well.
It was very sweet of Sidra and Baptiste to want to rename their daughter after Casey, as well. They didn’t need to change Summer’s name, but it’s a sweet gesture nonetheless. It was even sweeter of Eric to understand that it would just make the whole situation harder on Casey, and instead suggest that they call the baby Abbygail as that’s what they’d been calling her in Rockton while looking for her actual parents. It also showed growth in Eric, finally being able to face what happened to the Abby that the baby was named after.
Eric might very well have gone through the most growth in this story so far. Of course he dealt with the baby stuff with Casey, and he’s still worried about not being enough for Casey (which is silly – they’re perfect for each other). But he was finally able to focus on his own past. His birth parents weren’t perfect, but neither were his adoptive parents. The fact that he’s finally determined to find out the truth in the situation shows that he’s willing to get over his fears. I look forward to reading more about how he does this in the stories to come.
Last thing I want to mention before I go: I think the wolf that’s sniffing around Storm is absolutely adorable. She shoots him down every time, but he’s not willing to give up just yet. I love the fact that he’s there to protect her when she needs him. Sure he might want a nice romp, but he doesn’t take the rejection too poorly. Certainly better than some humans do…
Other reviews for this series:
- Watcher in the Woods (Book 4)