Lost You
Haylen Beck
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Buy *Lost You* by Haylen Beck online

Lost You
Haylen Beck
320 pages
August 2019
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Libby Reese has a secret, one she is not prepared to tell--ever. Even when her difficult life (a painful divorce, single motherhood with a young son) has begun paying dividends, Libby can't relax and celebrate the publication of her new novel with a sojourn in Florida at an exotic resort. But she's willing to give it a try. She leaves New York with nearly-four-year-old Ethan in tow, everything ugly in her past locked away, her only goal to share a few carefree days at the exclusive resort with her son.

Then tragedy strikes. Attracted to the myriad lighted buttons inside the elevator not far from their room, a thrilled Ethan runs inside, gleefully smashing his little hands on the numbers. Not quite close enough to catch him in time, a horrified Libby watches the doors close on her son. Her worst fears are realized soon after, when hotel security shows the frantic mother images of Ethan walking along a hotel hallway holding the hand of a stranger.

Beck taps into a mother's innate fear of losing a child but navigates as well the territory of obsession and the frailty of a marriage that struggles to restore trust in a strained partnership. More specifically, he explores the unique experience of motherhood, a mother's instinctive bond, the intimacy developed over months of pregnancy.

Though the characters drive the plot, their impact pales in contrast to the shocking opening chapters. Yet these diverse individuals provide the critical backstory at the heart of Libby's reaction when faced with the fate of her son. What begins as a as a familiar lost-child scenario evolves into a dramatic psychological thriller peopled with both the innocent and the evil, those in need and the profiteers who prey on victims' naiveté and desperation. In a society rife with predators of every kind, the consequences of an impulsive decision can suddenly be dangerous, even deadly.

The more the plot twists, the more inevitable a collision. The innocent and the desperate hurtle toward a denouement years in the making. Besides Libby, there's Anna, attractive yet unnoticeable, even bearing resemblance to Libby. But their paths are diverse: one on the ascent, the other completely unmoored, an anomaly. Like Libby, Anna grows stronger with each new challenge. Unlike Libby, Anna is outmatched by the sinister Mister Kovac, whose sheer bulk terrifies her. Kovac enters her life peripherally and leaves just as randomly.

The menace is palpable. A reckoning is due. Choices and misdeeds begun in good faith lead to a Florida resort where the unexpected shock of a "little boy lost" is but a footnote to a more harrowing tale, one of obsession and need, of honor and deceit. A small boy is caught in the spotlight, a terrible darkness exposed by the cleansing glare of truth.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2019

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