RATING: VERY GOOD
I loved the ending. It was nerve-wracking. Vince is in Hendaye, and finds the restaurant where the photograph he saw on TripAdvisor was taken. The restaurant belongs to Celine’s dad, and when he shows him the photograph, the man naturally tells him that he knows her as Imogen was part of René’s team in the game of boules. Vince convinces the man to give him René’s address. Vince goes there straightaway, but René isn’t there. He is with Celine, and Celine’s father tries to phone him, warning him about Vince, but René feels unable to pick up the call when he is with the man’s daughter. We learn that Rene and Celine sleep together, so he didn’t return home until the early hours of the morning.
Vince goes back to find René, who he wakes up. At once René is suspicious when Vince tells him that Imogen is his wife and he wants to find him as she is unwell. René doesn’t think Imogen is other than fine, but he agrees to call her, but the phone call goes straight to voice mail. That morning Imogen has gone to San Sebastián with Oliver as he has to meet a client whose girlfriend is Irish, and Oliver thought that it would be nice and helpful if Imogen befriended the girl. They stay in Sebastian longer than they had planned as they visit the city, and when they go to retrieve Oliver’s car from the garage where they left it, the garage car is stuck, so they have to wait for a technician to come and repair it.
In the meantime René calls Celine, telling him about Vince, so Celine goes to Imogen’s apartment, but she isn’t there. René can’t leave his house because Vince is outside, watching him, but when he sees him go, he decides to risk it and drop by the apartment and get himself in with the spare keys. What he doesn’t know is that Vince hasn’t really left and when he sees Rene go, he follows him. In Imogen’s apartment René realises that she has left the phone, so he decides to leave her a message, warning her about Vince. On the way out he runs into Max, another of the tenants, and even though he has to be in hospital later – he is an intern – he says he will keep an eye out for Imogen.
When Vince sees René go, he decides to stay as he has the hunch this is where Imogen lives. Then he runs into the two Australian sisters, who are neighbours of Imogen, and he pretends he is Imogen’s boyfriend and they were supposed to meet in her apartment. The two sisters buy the whole story, and when Imogen returns that evening, she gets a shock when she comes face to face with Vince. One of the sisters accepted to let him access the apartment through the adjacent balconies.
Imogen has returned later because she and Oliver had stopped for a drink in his house. There they get a surprise in the form of Lucie Dellisandes. Lucie is glad to see Imogen, and they have time to do some catch-up. Imogen tries to apologise to Lucie for what happened between Carol and Denis Dellisandes. Lucie tells her that it was never Imogen’s fault, and it is true that Carol acted wrong, but now Lucie admits that she also made a mistake by kicking out the wrong person. Denis never reformed, and she never found a housekeeper as good as Carol.
Oliver walks her to her apartment, and it is then that she comes to find Vince. There is a tense conversation. Vince tells her how he found her, and Imogen curses herself for allowing Samantha to take that photograph. Vince assumes that she is coming back with him, but Imogen stands her ground and explains the reasons why she left in the first place. Vince tries to act all docile and repentant, but Imogen knows him too well to know.
Then there are knocks at the door, and she can hear the voices of René, Oliver, and Celine. Vince shushes her and tells her not to open, but Imogen won’t have any of that. She goes to the door, and realises that Vince has locked it when she wasn’t looking. She eventually opens, and René, Oliver, Celine, and the twin sisters spill inside. Apparently, Oliver was on his way home when René and Celine intercepted him, remembering that he drove the car that Vince had seen Imogen in that morning. So they ran to help her.
The conversation that follows shows the kind of man Vince. Imogen’s friends keep saying that Imogen will do what she wants, and Vince won’t let her talk, claiming that she is leaving with him right now. Eventually, Imogen finds her own voice and tells Vince that she is staying and will divorce him. Vince gets furious and grabs her by the arm, intending to drag her out if necessary, and then Oliver goes and punches him. Vince is seething, but when Imogen still repeats her intentions and her wish for him to leave, René escorts the man out and to his hotel. Celine offers Imogen her place for the night, but Imogen doesn’t want to impose on her, so she leaves. Yet, when Oliver tells her to stay with him and his family in Villa Martine, she accepts.
Lucie Dellisandes is sympathetic and treats her as if she were her daughter. Imogen spends the night there, and as she is having breakfast with Lucie and Giles, Oliver returns. He and René took Vince to the airport, and now he is on his way back to Ireland, and before he went, he was spiteful and cruel in his comments about Imogen. What a horrible man!
Before she leaves the villa, Imogen decides to make some phone calls. She first calls Cheyenne, who tells her everything, and she also apologises for the way she was with her and Kevin years ago. She now realises that Kevin was only good to her, but at the time she thought he was only second best, an interloper that has been left behind when Carol died. It is nice when Cheyenne calls her her sister and urges her not to say any more nonsense. Imogen’s marriage was terrible, but I think she has learnt to appreciate those who love her. It is a good lesson she has learnt.
Then she calls Shona, who tells her everything, and Shona admits that she could see how Vince could be so controlling as she had felt the feeling when she had been with him in the last weeks.
In the last chapter Celine organises a special dinner in her father’s restaurant for everybody, including Cheyenne and her husband, who have come to visit Imogen. During this celebration we see that Celine and René are still trying to see where they stand. Celine is positive that if they divorced, it was for a reason and that reason hadn’t changed. Yet, René is sincere about his feelings and how he hopes he can reach her heart again. We don’t know what happens between them, but it is clear that they are on the way to something.
Oliver also keeps hinting at Imogen that he would like to be much more than her friend. Imogen thinks that after Vince she is not ready to much more, which Oliver understands completely. Yet, when the party moves to the beach, Charles comes with the idea of challenging Imogen to a race for old times’ sake, so Charles, Oliver, and Imogen race each other, and since Imogen has been going to the gym frequently in the last years, she is fitter than the two brothers, and she wins. When Oliver hugs her in congratulations, he can’t help but kiss her, and Imogen doesn’t shy away and kisses him back. So it is nice that this should be the beginning of another story for Imogen.
I really loved the book and how the toxic relationship between Imogen and Vince was described. There is more harm than just physical, and the author did a great job in exemplifying this type of relationship in this novel.