My Thoughts: Lies are what Annalise Decker has built her life from – she depends on them. They are what keep her safe and now, some twenty years later, they are as natural as breathing. Or that is what she tells herself. That was before her past reared its ugly head in the form of one of the only three people who could destroy her future. Over twenty years ago, Annalise was Deidre O’ Reilly, a young woman who helped put a dangerous criminal behind bars following the death of her best friend. Now, she is a model citizen in the sleepy town of Deep Haven having re-invented herself in the WitSec program but now her inspector, Frank has shown up with news that she – and her entire family, husband and children – could be in danger from the man she helped put behind bars. Suddenly her world crumbles when she is faced with choosing between leaving behind the person she has become or shattering the family she loves.
Being the first series that introduced me to Warren, these books always have had a special place on my packed bookshelf – and in my heart. They are the sort of sweet romantic comedies that realistic dreams are made of. The first three novels and then the ensuing three had a several year span in between their release dates, and in that “missing” chuck of time, these novels have changed a great deal – likely reflecting the changes in Susan’s writing and, perhaps life. No longer are they quite as carefree as once they were and have instead transferred into mature, challenging stories. You Don’t Know Me is one of the most interesting premises I’ve read in the recent months. Its main character, Annalise is in the witness protection program and given that I just finished a drama show that highlighted WitSec inspectors, I found that procedure particularly interesting. Within these pages, there is mystery that never becomes clichéd – or tries to be a “thriller,” in addition to a solid work of fiction that could challenge its reader to a new appreciation of family.
The theme of the story is really all about secrets, and essentially the controlled havoc that hiding truth can wreck. If we let that happen. Annalise’s choices aren’t many when she is faced again with her past through the re-appearance of Frank Harrison, not just a past that can be easily erased like chalk but rather a past that could end her life – literally. Once her WitSec inspector, Frank has always had a soft spot for Annalise and his warning of danger complicates her otherwise orderly life. She had to decide between leaving behind what she has worked hard to re-invent, and potentially saving the lives of her family, or staying and putting every one of them at risk. Unlike so many of us, her fresh start couldn’t be fixed with new curtains or a change of pace: Wiping the slate clean for Annalise meant new names, new cities and uprooting her three children’s entire lives. Annalise is an interesting character; in reading her story I was often torn between wondering if she truly loved Nathan (she did) or if she married him without really “knowing” what true love should feel like because of the horrible relationships she had been in. Her compulsive need to re-decorate their home was informative to her character, it is indicative of her “need” to continue to suppress her own life – to live in hiding, to change things and live a life of anonymity. By the time the final chapters roll around, danger does come calling but everything is tied up prettily. I was a bit annoyed by so many point of views sometimes but the novel kept pace nicely and ended up being a lovely read.
In Summary: Unfortunately, this novel doesn’t earn my pick for the best or favorite book in this six-book series but You Don’t Know Me is a wonderful story that demonstrates how easily secrets and the lies we build can destroy lives but ultimately, it’s a beautiful inkling of the power of forgiveness. If you want a more romantic story, look to some of Warren’s earlier books.
Synopsis: To everyone who knows her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses her kids’ sporting events, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.
No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the sleepy town of Deep Haven, Deidre got a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker. Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. – from the publisher
With thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.