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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 03/2020
  • B0861KLVVH
  • 293 pages
  • $0.99
Paperback Details
  • 03/2020
  • 979-8627357430 B0863QB73Q
  • 293 pages
  • $12.95
Her Eyes Underwater
Romona Simon, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

If someone seems too good to be true…

People have been disappearing in the vast and pristine wilderness of 1970s Montana. Julia Strauss, a restless university student with a taste for adventure, is unaware and unconcerned. During a chance encounter at a café, she meets the captivating Alex Bowman and finds him handsome, polite and irresistible.

In this true-crime inspired romantic suspense novel, Alex seems almost perfect when he is with Julia. However, this cultivated persona melts away to reveal something frightening and unforgiving when they’re apart. Will Julia be able to see beyond the haze of her infatuation before it's too late?

This is the first book in an as-yet-unnamed series, but can be enjoyed on its own.

Reviews
This deliciously disquieting debut thriller gleefully toys with both emotions and sanity. Julia Strauss is a 30-year-old law student, bored by life in mid-1970s Missoula, Mont., and desperately longing for a romantic adventure. When she encounters charismatic and aloof Alex Bowman, a fellow law student, in a café, her yearning turns into an obsession. Alex’s looks initially attract her, but it is his enigmatic emotional distance, occasionally broken by moments when he takes bizarre and terrifying actions, that drives her into a frenzy. Further encounters in class and at parties leave Julia determined to uncover Alex's secrets, without any care for her own safety or what unsettling mysteries she might unearth.

Simon’s detailed worldbuilding and sophisticated, evocative phrasing immerse readers in the minds of two unstable characters. Smooth prose allows for tension to build organically as the pace heightens; casual introductions quickly jolt to a fever pitch of passion that blurs the lines between socially acceptable interest and outright stalking. Julia attributes some of Alex’s alarming behavior to trauma from service in Vietnam, but readers soon begin to suspect there’s more going on. Scenes of graphic violence and sexual assault are a stark counterpoint to the more subtle, but equally horrific, mental manipulation between Julia and Alex.

In a delightful approach that pushes this firmly into horror territory, neither Julia nor Alex is especially redeemable, leading readers to uncomfortably wonder whom to root for, if anyone. The politically turbulent 1970s are the perfect background for the palpable sexual tension between the two leads. Julia’s sex-hungry fascination is complemented by Alex’s increasingly unnerving internal monologues. This disturbing foray into the minds of two deeply unhinged people will even make seasoned horror fans’ skin crawl.

Takeaway: Fans of horrific suspense and psychological terror will be enthralled by this obsessive, deadly game of romantic cat and mouse.

Great for fans of Gillian Flynn, V.C. Andrews.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B-

Book Viral

SUMMARY: If someone seems too good to be true…

People have been disappearing in the vast and pristine wilderness of 1970s Montana. Julia Strauss, a restless university student with a taste for adventure, is unaware and unconcerned. During a chance encounter at a café, she meets the captivating Alex Bowman and finds him handsome, polite and irresistible.

The BookViral Review:

With so many undemanding and creatively bankrupt novels filling electronic shelves, Her Eyes Underwater proves a refreshingly original read. Morally dark and socially conscious with Simon’s characters being uniformly well-suited to their roles, their archetypical personas filled with colour and nuance in equal measure.

Yes, she shamelessly includes tried and tested tropes to give her narrative an iconic feel and it works well given the structure of her plot. She doesn’t explain everything to the reader but leads them through multiple plot threads and the differing perspectives of Julia and Alex to a clear cut and intensely powerful denouement. 

Far too many books in this genre, leave frustrating loose threads to create more of a vague puzzle than genuine intrigue, but Simon maintains a notable balance between suspense and intrigue throughout. Visually and thematically strong, if Her Eyes Underwater was a film you could imagine a roaming camera, long lingering shots and POV angles, that’s how well Simon captures the imagination.

Impassioned, alarming, characteristically powerful and thought-provoking, Romantic thrillers don’t get much better than this and Her Eyes Underwater is Highly Recommended.

Neoleaf Press

Simon starts you out with a nameless loveless woman that the author portrays through narrative foreshadowing. What you end up with is the result of two different types of predators with entirely different desires.
   Julia is a man hunter. And she’s willing to go after her prize no matter the danger. Alex Bowman is cool, too good to be true, and the suave type with a dark alternative motive. Despite the warning signs, Julia plays her game to hook this 10/10 man, specifically manipulating everything she can to be around him.
   She starts to regret her choice when she reveals to Alex that she is in the law program at the University of Montana. His reaction should have been a warning sign, but after some smooth-talking Julia concludes he’s still a man worth perusing.
Until the bitter end…
   Simon weaves the story together with dialogue and narrative focusing on character interaction. Although better setting description and increasing relatability of the characters would benefit the book, Simon does well at portraying two separate people with following their agenda’s and weaving a dark and suspenseful tale. 4/5 stars (Silver Recommendation )

Onlinebookclub.org

Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Her Eyes Underwater" by Romona Simon.

4 out of 4 stars


"I suppose your mother didn't tell you not to take up with strange men you meet randomly in cafés."

Julia is a thrill-seeker, a woman who follows the scent of adventure. The prospect of having an exciting encounter with a stranger brings her to the small café in Montana. As luck would have it, she spots an individual who exceeds her expectations—a perfect specimen. While he seems standoffish at first, Julia hopes this delectable man reciprocates her admiration.

Alex is no stranger to the intoxicating effects he has on women; he is approachable, yet unattainable. An incorrigible flirt, yet he is frustratingly mysterious—all things that drive Julia crazy with lust. Every time Julia thinks she is making some headway with Alex, his impenetrable walls go back up. Julia views his frigid disposition as something that needs fixing, and she is intent on stealing his heart. Still, he is set on keeping her at arm's length. Alex has a dark secret that he must keep buried, but it's becoming challenging to abstain from acting upon his abominable urges.

Her Eyes Underwater by Romona Simon is a dark romantic book wrapped in an ominous bow. The author's penchant for descriptive language paints a beautiful picture—bursting with imagination and rife with character development. The book is written from the third-person perspective; the gripping story follows Julia but switches to Alex as the events begin to unfold. This masterpiece explores the all-encompassing obsession that drives Julia to recklessly pursue Alex and turn a blind eye to his unsettling behavior.

Upon reading the first few pages, the thing that instantly captured my heart was the author's talent for arranging words in such a way that they ignited my imagination; I could easily visualize the scenes as they unfolded. The writing enabled me to conjure up realistic images, particularly when describing the setting and the characters' outward appearance. One of my favorite examples of this is when the author describes one of Julia and Alex's first encounters. She wrote, "It was a cool, misty day, the kind where rain seemed to produce steam when it hit the earth. The world was cast in varying shades of grey and green except for him...except for his eyes, which protruded from the backdrop like cobalt bullets cutting through the clouds."

Besides the author's way with words, I was thoroughly impressed by the development of the main characters. Watching Julia's crush blossom into infatuation bordered on insanity, and it was like a train wreck that I couldn't peel my eyes away from. Alex's reservations about spending time with her drew out the abrasiveness in her personality. His character was complex. On the one hand, he was highly charismatic, and people were drawn to him, but on the other hand, there was something vile and extremely disconcerting about some of the thoughts he expressed. The chapters from Alex's perspective were chilling—often sending shivers down my spine.

The only flaw about Her Eyes Underwater was the abruptness of the ending. The book steadily built momentum, which set the tone for an unforgettable finale. Still, it didn't play out the way that I expected. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not great and I felt something was missing. Thankfully, it wasn't enough to deduct a star, and I still chose to give the book a rating of four out of four stars. There were very few errors, and the book was obviously professionally edited.

This book was so enrapturing that I did nothing for two days but read it to its entirety. The characters struck a chord with me, and I continued to contemplate their choices days after finishing the story. For fans of character-driven books that are infused with horror undertones, this book is for you.

Due to the graphic nature of the book, I would not recommend it to young readers, or anyone triggered by extreme violence. Some particularly nauseating sex scenes are sinister in nature, so please take caution when reading.
 

Self-Publishing Review

"A patient and intense psychological thriller, Her Eyes Underwater weaves a sense of impending doom from the opening pages. Balancing the voyeuristic pleasure of a budding romance with the creeping fear that something terrible awaits, this true crime-inspired novel is a revealing peek at the addictive and potentially dangerous nature of love. Some of the dialogue feels unnatural, and there are some sections of overworked description, but the pacing is strong and the delicious tension is perpetual throughout. Touching on themes of abuse, dominance, and obsession, Her Eyes Underwater is a powerful start to this new series." Self-Publishing Review, ★★★★

The Prairies Book Review

High on anticipation, compelling, and vastly entertaining…

Simon delves deep into the mind of a psychopath as she delivers her clever, original debut thriller that takes the reader on a whirlwind journey of a young woman’s infatuation with a mysterious stranger. Julia Strauss is beautiful, restless, and used to get plenty of male attention. But when the irresistible Alex Bowman rejects her advances, it becomes imperative for Julia to get Mr. charming at any cost. However, not everything about Alex is even close to what it seems. There is plenty of genuine information about the way a psychopath’s mind works. The killer’s character is a triumph: he is a psychopath in classic sense; a smooth talker who possesses irresistible charm; he is aware of his compulsions and his disturbing tendencies, and completely lacks remorse. Julia’s character as a privileged young woman who is unable to see beyond the haze of her infatuation is crafted with skill. The narrative is told in the voices of Julia and Alex, and Simon keeps the individuality of their voices intact. Simon’s approach works well when describing the point of view of Julia or when delving into the inner thoughts of the killer’s disturbed mentality. There are dramatic revelations up to the very last page as the ingenious plot gradually unravels the psychopathic tendencies of the antagonist, and a ruthless killing spree in the background as people disappear in the vast wilderness of Montana. The finale arrives riding high on anticipation and tension. Simon has crafted a winner.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 03/2020
  • B0861KLVVH
  • 293 pages
  • $0.99
Paperback Details
  • 03/2020
  • 979-8627357430 B0863QB73Q
  • 293 pages
  • $12.95

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