Posted in Book Reviews

Happy Families: Give me Mrs King, The Unlucky Stepmother

the stepmother

Title: The Stepmother
Author: Claire Seeber
Publisher: Bookouture
Release date:
July 15th 2016
Format: eARC
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Story

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…
Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.

After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending … doesn’t it?

My thoughts

If there is a controversial role in any modern family, it is the stepmother’s. Often portrayed at the terrible and despicable woman whose only goal is to get rid of the kids that aren’t hers by any available means, she gets the blame for everything that goes wrong in a blended family. But what if the stepmother is not the problem?

Only ever half of the story: that’s what we get. Half the story. Half a picture. Half an idea of what, say, a marriage is actually like behind closed doors.

We meet Jeanie as she is about to settle into her new life. A new roof over her head, a new name, a new man in her bed, and two new children to take care of. A fresh start is a happy stage in life, isn’t it? But a new beginning does not erase the history, and she brings more than suitcases and a son to her home. We are told from the beginning that Jeanie is hiding a secret, so dark that she has not told Matthew, her new husband. If at first the snippets of information we got from her previous life intrigued me, her denial and refusal to have a proper talk about it with the man she married ended up irking me. She could have avoided a lot of trouble if she had mustered the courage to come clean.

Prince Charming’s a stupid old fantasy, though, isn’t he? He doesn’t exist. You only need to look at the divorce statistics to know that.

Despite her flaws, Jeanie could be considered a good stepmother. Living in a house that was chosen for a previous life requires patience and understanding, and I am not sure I would have been comfortable settling in another woman’s home! I felt bad for Jeanie as she tries to find a balance with her husband. As the image of perfection created by love shatters, she realizes Matthew is only a man, with his flaws and a -heavy- background. She does try her best to smooth the edges and get to know her husband’s twins. Experience taught me it is uncommon enough to underline! I went through four stepmothers, and none showed half of Jeanie’s kindness.

Unfortunately, kindness and willpower are not enough to create a peaceful and loving blended family, and the clouds of secrets soon come hovering over the house. Incidents start happening and Jeanie slowly learns that secrets are toxic. Way too toxic.

Cos what I’d also say is this: family, they’ll either make you, or they’ll break you.

I really enjoyed Claire Seeber’s Gothic tone combined with the chilling events, which ratcheted up the tension up to the 80% mark. From there, a twist forces the narrative to take a different perspective, leaving the ending a little flat and rushed. The story is divided between two narrators from the start, Jeanie and her sister Marlene, but I could not get involved in Marlene’s journalistic story and I was a little disappointed there was no link whatsoever with the events in Jeanie’s life.

Overall, I had a great time throughout most of the story but the last chapters left me deflated. Claire’s writing gives another twist to the stepmother tale and a frightening take on the scars left by a divorce.

I would like to thank Bookouture and Claire Seeber for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can find Claire Seeber on Twitter or her blog

The Stepmother is available on Amazon

34 thoughts on “Happy Families: Give me Mrs King, The Unlucky Stepmother

    1. Thank you 🙂 I really thought her looking for that girl would be relevant in some way, so when nothing happened it felt weird to have talked about it so much during the story.

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  1. Meh, I hate it when the ending kind of ruins the rest of the book. Or downgrades it at least. Lovely review, though! 🙂 And “but the last chapters left me deflated.” That made me chuckle after your previous revelation xD Sawwy :-*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mouhahahahaha, you are evil. I had not even made the connection, but it’s a good one!
      Thank you 🙂 I was expecting so much from this book that the ending left me with a bitter taste in the mouth. But the writing was good and if I had stopped reading at 80% I would have given it 4 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a TGV line to those specific parts of my brain apparently :P. Ach, bummer. The thing is that you can never actually stop at 80% because you don’t know what’s coming next! So unfair 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see that you have finally posted it. Is it this book of The Sister that you had trouble reviewing?

    I had the same feeling concerning the final chapters. They were so rushed that they didn’t even make sense at some point. That is what ruined the book for me.I agree with you about Marlene too, at first I was actually confused by her chapters because they seemed so random.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I struggled with both, haha. The Sister because it was too good to review, The Stepmother because I could not decide of the impact of the ending on my overall opinion of the story.
      I thought maybe I had read too many thrillers and I was being a bit picky, so I’m glad we agree on this one! Thank you 🙂

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  3. I’m really curious as to what sort of secret Jeanie has, and how this family is going to resolve their familial issues. I’m currently watching a drama that involves lots of family secrets, and remarriage. (It’s a Korean drama..) I found it so annoying when the characters were unable to divulge their secrets,and in the end, the families were ripped apart.

    Argh, endings really make or break a book, and it’s really disappointing that this book did the latter…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched a thousand Japanese drama. Asia is good with family stuff 🙂
      I really wanted to give more stars to the story, but the ending was too flat, it would not be fair to books that convinced me better

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know why but I never requested the book. I was on the fence at first but decided not to 😄 The same thing that I’ve felt many times, that the book is OK but the ending fails to impress 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was very intrigued when I heard about it, and I love blended families stories, so I jumped on it, but now all I can think of is the ending, so I’m gutted! Thank you 🙂

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  5. This sounds like an interesting book, it’s certainly not like anything I’ve read before but for the most part it sounds like a good read with plenty of twists and surprises. It’s just a shame the ending didn’t live up to the promise the rest of the book made you know. I find that can always kind of sour my mood towards a book as well.
    Still I’m really intrigued by the secrets and twists you mentioned. I may have to add this to my TBR list! 🙂
    Great review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem with disappointing ending is that it’s all you remember once you’re done.
      Enough secrets and twists to make you wonder about what’s going on for a long time! 🙂 It’s a nice read, I hope you enjoy it if you get it! Thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When I first saw this cover on NetGalley, I thought it was associated with The Sister. They remind me so much of the other for some reason. I was on the fence with this one. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to request it or not because I have so many ARCs to read. Awesome review! 🙂 I’m tempted to read it once my pile clears up.

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    1. Same, I really had the feeling it would be as good as The Sister, it felt so close to it. Thank you 😀 I’d love to know if you feel let down by the ending too, or if I’m just too picky sometimes xD

      Liked by 1 person

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