I love a bit of romance, blended nicely with romance, relationships and a bit of twisting and turning; I really wanted to like ‘The Girl Before’ by JP Delaney as it seemed to have it all, but in the end I found it was…okay. What I did like about it was the downright weirdness of the characters; the female leads, Emma first and then Jane, both damaged by circumstances, needing to be controlled, and the male lead, Edward being so thoroughly controlling and manipulative that he succeed in brainwashing them both, one after the other. I imagine that by his list of requirements before letting his precious house at One Folgate Street, he is not just advertising for tenants, but for a particular type of person who can be controlled – a type of underhand grooming if you like. The people who agree to his preposterous terms and conditions have been vetted and scored by Edward himself to fit a particular mould before they even take up residence – and then he makes his next moves on them.
One review I read described it as having no atmosphere; I disagree. There was an air of psychological creepiness that permeates throughout the story, by the very nature of the one-of-a-kind house, the questionnaires, the minimalism, the control – and yet the suggestion that the sex between the characters by comparison was completely out of control, possibly violent and bordering on activities that might be considered taboo by others.
I did enjoy the book, just not as much as some of the others I have read of a similar genre.