Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not impact my rating or review.
Apparently Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke are branching out to the thriller/mystery genre. Doesn't it feel like every book lately is in this genre? I didn't read their first offering, "The Good Widow" but can honestly say that if it set up like this book, I am going to pass on that one.
"Girls' Night Out" is about a group of friends (Ashley, Lauren, and Natalie) going to Tulum, Mexico in an effort to repair the fractured friendship between the three of them. There is tension between this group and it takes a long while before you find out why, I honestly thought the reveal to one of these plot-lines was just aggravating as can be. The character of Ashley disappears (not a spoiler, it's part of the synopsis) and then Lauren and Natalie try to figure out what happened to her. The back and forth between three characters showing them before Ashley's disappearance and after doesn't mesh well. The flow was really off for me while reading. The ending was so anti-climactic, I just didn't buy it at all.
The characters of Ashley and Natalie are not only long-term friends, they are business partners. Part of the tension between them is that they received an offer from Revlon to buy their company. Natalie wants to sell and Ashley doesn't want to. I was curious about why in the world they just didn't bring up Ashley buying Natalie's share out? I mean, it seemed the simplest solution and it was weird I didn't see anyone just saying that. That whole plot point was just to show how Ashley is selfish and doesn't care about other people.
Ashley and Lauren have tension for a very good reason. I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but I am sorry, I had zero sympathy for Lauren. What a piece of work. I wish that the authors had decided to just have her have some self awareness about things, but nope, we don't even get that in the end. Just her and her grudging forgiveness.
Lauren and Natalie's tension is mostly about wanting to be the center of Ashley's attention. At times I wondered how old these three women were (almost 40, with one of them being 40) and who does stuff like this. It was a contradiction I found throughout the book. They get angry at Ashley being self involved and managing to make people bend to her will. And then they would be jealous if she sought one of them out and not the other.
Ashley is the center of this story (for good or bad) and she was not that interesting. Sorry, I just was getting a whiff of poor little rich girl here until we get a random aside thrown out about her marriage. I really wanted all of these women to go into therapy and just cut each other off. They all were the definition of a toxic friendship.
The secondary characters were not developed that well. We know that the three women have husbands, but they might as well has been called husband #1, #2, and #3.
We had the character of Marco that was obviously a con-man. I don't get why the character of Ashley was even telling this guy all of her business. Her justification didn't make a lot of sense since as other characters said, what was the point of her hanging out with her friends if she was going to listen to some mystical crap from some random dude she met on a beach.
I think it would also have been better to set up the book prologue with the three women meeting in college. I just needed to see/believe that they were actually friends. The book jumps too quickly into Ashley's disappearance and then goes back to days before she went missing and then to days after they noticed she was missing. It was hard to keep things straight. The authors do set up each chapter heading with the character and they do let you know how many days has passed or not passed, but I still found it confusing. Maybe because we have characters referring to conversations that we didn't get to see.
I wish that we had more dialogue instead of people having inner dialogue with themselves . It also didn't help that sometimes in a paragraph you would have a character having a conversation with someone in the past (both Lauren and Natalie's passages did that) and it would take me a while to realize that I wasn't in the current timeline that I was reading something that had happened before.
The flow was off almost from the beginning. I think it's because of the before mentioned changing POVs with the different timelines.
The setting of Tulum, Mexico was obviously very well researched. I have actually stayed there and visited the same locations that these characters did (Chichen Itza) so reading about that made me happy. I think though that besides a few things here and there, once again we don't get to see the women enjoying things, we just jump around too much.
The ending was way too simple. I don't want to spoil, but I had a hard time with it. It felt like the two authors just gave up 3/4 of the way through.