2 out of 4 stars
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A. Gavazzoni has published the second book in her Hidden Motives series, Lara's Journal. While I did not read the first book, Behind the Door, I did not have any issues following the plot of this second book. In other reviews I had read, Lara's Journal was characterized as a romantic thriller. I think that it was light on the romance, and heavy on the sex. I wasn't quite expecting the incredibly explicit sexual content throughout the entire story that featured pedophilia, rape, sexual and emotional abuse, and sadomasochism. Reader beware! This book is for mature audiences only.
There are essentially two storylines. One features Simone, a psychologist who specializes in working with clients with unusual sexual preferences. The book starts with her letting off some steam after having gone through a traumatic abduction by a psychopath in Behind the Door. Her captor is still out there somewhere, which creates some additional stress for her throughout the story. The second storyline involves one of Simone's clients, Carl, who was struggling after the accidental death of his girlfriend, Lara. He came across Lara's journals and wanted Simone to help him process Lara's experiences. Lara had written the journals at the prompting of her counselor. The journals are interspersed throughout Simone's own chaotic life as a therapist who seems to attract the wrong kind of man.
I think that Lara's journals were incredibly disturbing. While this novel is a work of fiction, the explicit descriptions are certainly not out of the realm of possibility. As a teacher, it made me think twice about the students in my classroom and what some of them may be experiencing. While I wouldn't wish Lara's experiences on anyone, it was a good reminder that we never know what others endure and that empathy and compassion need to be present before judgement and condemnation.
I found it hard to relate to Simone. It may be because I didn't read the first book in the series, but she seemed quite contradictory; more of a "do as I say, not as I do" type of person. She starts off with a steamy sex scene with a stranger in the bathroom of a club. While she was hoping to never see this man again, he winds up being her college roommate's cousin. Even though she claims she isn't interested, she continues to have sex with him while telling him she has no interest in him and that she wants to be left alone. It seems like she needs a therapist of her own to work through her personal issues.
Lara's Journal receives two out of four stars. There were numerous typos and grammatical errors throughout the book which automatically dropped it out of the four star category. The removal of the second star was for Simone's storyline. It often seemed like it was just thrown in for some added drama. It really needed to be fleshed out to be thoroughly understood and enjoyed. Drama for drama's sake didn't make for interesting reading.
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