About the Book
Series: Hiding Behind the Couch (#7)
Author: Debbie McGowan
Categories: Contemporary/general fiction
Publisher: Beaten Track
Publication date: 19 April, 2017
Length: 808 pages/240k words
When greed, fear and obsession rule the senses, danger is never more than a heartbeat away.
A night of celebration affords the perfect opportunity for an unlikely band of criminals to make their move, but as details emerge, it soon becomes clear the crime is far more sophisticated than the police first thought.
And that’s only the beginning.
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Reunions is Season Seven in the Hiding Behind The Couch series.
This instalment follows chronologically from Two By Two (Season Six) and Those Jeffries Boys.
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WARNING: this story touches on themes of suicide ideation, sudden infant death, cancer, dementia, drug dependency and dissociative PTSD. These are not graphically or gratuitously depicted, but may, nonetheless, cause distress to some readers.
The story also includes a few brief scenes of an intimate (non-explicit) nature.
Note: I pre-read a copy of this novel, but to my knowledge, there are no large changes to the plot or structure. This review does not contain spoilers.
If the length of the novel seems intimidating, don’t let it fool you. There’s enough going on to keep readers’ interest all the way through. Although I highly recommend starting this series from the beginning (many things will make a lot more sense), in theory, this could be read alone. There are spoilers for the entire rest of the series, but readers who don’t care about that should be able to catch up easily. A lot of it is briefly recapped in the text. If nothing else, it might spark an interest in the rest.
This is a novel which reads almost like a television series, and it works perfectly every time. The sections are divided into “episodes,” and there’s a season-long plot thread with two converging strands. It’s partially a mystery which unfolds as the story goes on. We start off knowing (mostly) whodunnit, but there’s more than meets the eye. I loved this arc because we’re introduced (and re-introduced) to some fantastic side characters. I would love to see what ultimately happens to them, but I’m equally content to let their storylines be. I thought that plot strand was fantastic in showing how someone gets wrapped up in something he shouldn’t and the intricacies of leaving a non-romantic/non-intimate abusive relationship.
And speaking of romance and intimacy, there’s plenty of love going on. There are a lot of couples, and as much as each character has a personality, they also have a “couple personality.” I’ve enjoyed the developments and changes between them over time. There’s a range of heat levels to the intimate scenes, all while keeping them understated and low-detail. I appreciate this because I think in this context, it would become tedious reading multiple explicit sex scenes. I would rather not spoil previous books for anyone who hasn’t read them, so I won’t outline the pairings. I will say that there are couple-related storylines which held me emotionally captive for being so real and exposed.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Josh. I started reading these books because I liked him so much and had to know more about him. I found it interesting that he seemed to take less center stage in this one than in previous books. Not that he didn’t have plenty of page time, but it was almost like he stepped back just a little bit. This is all right with me, as I’ve now become attached to everyone else and will gladly read about any of them. That said, one of the sub-plots involving Josh and his family grabbed my attention because it involved some tough decisions by the adults regarding the teenagers. It was quite well done, enough that I asked my own teenager/pre-teen how they would handle such a situation with a friend.
There’s a lot of really good social commentary throughout, from a wide range of ages and perspectives. There are some heavy themes, as detailed in the content note on the synopsis. As with the intimacy and the mild/infrequent violence, they’re not explicit or heavy-handed. Everything is carefully crafted to give readers a good experience rather than played for shock or to upset. Still, handle with care, as these things may bring up strong feelings. I hope that they also stir compassion for the various things the characters are dealing with.
I’m already feeling a bit of loss that I finished; I’d like more. I don’t think I’ll ever be tired of reading about these people.
For characters who are like family, deep and broad emotional range, and excellent writing, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Author, publisher, social scientist. My academic specialism is gender and sexual politics and identity, so you can expect this to crop up now and then in my writing too! Not in an “in your face” kind of way – subtlety wins hearts and minds.
I write character-based/driven fiction – mostly general/contemporary, some (M/M, F/M, N-B) romance and a bit of sci-fi fantasy (light). Basically, I write about life. I’ve written a few stand alone novels and short stories, but my main work is the Hiding Behind The Couch series, which these days I’m referring to as a literary soap opera. Each novel/novella concludes, but there are always a few loose ends to be picked up and threaded on to the next instalment. There are longer threads and shorter threads.
Novels and short novellas are stand-alone and can be read individually, or as part of the series.
I know readers find it hard to navigate a series, so here it is in order (November, 2016):
Hiding Behind The Couch (Season One)
No Time Like The Present (Season Two)
The Harder They Fall (Season Three)
Chain of Secrets
Crying in the Rain
In The Stars Part I (Season Four)
In The Stars Part II (Season Five)
A Midnight Clear
Red Hot Christmas
Two By Two (Season Six)
Those Jeffries Boys
The WAG and The Scoundrel
Breakfast at Cordelia’s Aquarium
Reunions (Season Seven)
I also run a socialist (profit share) independent publishing company: Beaten Track Publishing.