#CJSReads2018 – Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Happy belated release day!

Thanks to Atria Books for the early copies in exchange for our honest reviews.

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL – Sarah Vaughan (out now!)

This he said/she said suspense meets courtroom drama was a slow-burner we all loved.

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Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

“The trouble with women is they don’t know what they want.” “The trouble with women is they lack courage of their convictions.”

This isn’t going to be the action packed, bite your nails, sit on the edge of your seat kind of thriller that most people fly toward. Instead, we get a little bit of a slow burn, where even though you probably know where the story is going and what is going to happen, it’s more about the web the author weaved to get you there, getting you engaged with the characters. You hate some, feel bad for others, root for one, contemplate the other… you just FEEL. It also brings to light issues that are relevant to the past, to today and unfortunately for the future. It certainly brought a variety of emotions out in me as I was reading.

Anatomy of a Scandal touches on the all too importance of what rape actually consists of… how many times, as a woman, have you been in a position where you’re either complicit in an act you may or may not have wanted but are confused as to which that may have been? How many times have you said no, and even if they complied with your resistance, made you feel bad about saying it. Why should any woman ever feel difficulty in facing her attacker…. and why does the public continue to shame the woman…. regardless if she made mistakes. I mean, at the end of the day, which one of us is perfect? NOBODY. It also touches on the fact that woman have a tendency to camouflage themselves to the men their dating. In a sense, they lose their own identity. His friends become her friends. His suggestions to stop working, to eat more vegetables, to not waste time on hobbies when children need to be taken care of… little sleights that seem like nothing but add up and can effectively slap you upside the head at the most inopportune time. And how much would you put up with as to not disrupt your children’s’ lives? They’re probably way more perceptive than you give them credit for. It’s not easy being a woman. It’s not easy being a man. It’s just NOT easy. And we all do what we can… don’t we? Take all this for the average human, and then make them privileged… entitled… and in their head, they’ve done no wrong.

I think working in the law field made this especially interesting for me. I enjoyed that it wasn’t cumbersome with legalese and too much courtroom drama – even though a majority of the book was about the trial. I found myself with my hands over my mouth as the verdict was being read. GASP! The only thing that stops me from giving this a full 5 stars is that the ending fell just a TEENY bit flat. I literally kept turning the page thinking the book was continuing….. where did my ending go?? Haha.. However, I did enjoy the full character building and was mostly satisfied with this story. I will certainly keep an eye out for more of Vaughan’s work.

This really is well worth the read.

Sam’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

When choosing a novel, I am typically drawn to anything involving courtroom drama or a he said/she said type storyline.  When I discovered that Anatomy of a Scandal, the new novel by Sarah Vaughan, had these exact two things within its storyline, I was sold!  Up to the top of my TBR pile it went.

The novel opens with the introduction of James: loving father, Member of Parliament and accused rapist.  His wife, Sophie, is shocked at the accusations and is desperate to protect her family.  Kate, the lawyer hired to prosecute the case, is certain James is guilty and should pay for his crimes.   As all three viewpoints collide, Vaughan weaves a tale of love, betrayal, deceit and revenge.

When I started reading, I was completely hooked from the first few pages.  In fact, I flew through Anatomy of a Scandal within a couple of sittings.  Vaughan’s narrative voice is completely addictive and I found myself loving the characters; I found Sophie and Kate to be extremely relatable.   Vaughan did a spectacular job at making her characters jump off the pages; there was nothing surface about them.  Instead, Vaughan seemed to delve deep and I found myself completely engrossed as their stories developed.  While I loved the female characters, James, on the other hand, I hated from the moment I was introduced to him.  Conniving and powerful, I felt like I couldn’t trust him for a second.  I loved this juxtaposition within the writing!  Having characters I loved and characters I abhorred kept me on the edge of my seat!

As for twists, I felt as if the story was pretty surface.  I was able to guess where it was going almost immediately but that didn’t disturb or affect my reading at all.   In fact, it made me more curious to see exactly how the story was going to play out.

I think my favourite part of the novel was how relevant it was.  With all that is going on in the world involving rape culture, women’s rights and Hollywood/political scandals, I felt as if Anatomy of a Scandal did an amazing job at portraying the system surrounding these issues and what needs to change.

Overall, I really enjoyed Anatomy of a Scandal.  If you are looking for a character-centric, slow burn that will get you thinking and leave you feeling, then you will enjoy this one too!  However, if you are looking for an extremely fast-paced, thrill ride type of novel this one will likely disappoint.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

When a thriller novel starts to gain a lot of hype leading up to release day, you always have to try and go into it without having that high expectation. Well, ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL by Sarah Vaughan definitely earned that hype! A he said/she said thriller meets court room drama make for an engrossing read.

James is the perfect man – handsome, charismatic, and a respected and successful member of Parliament. However, he now stands accused of rape. Sophie, James’ wife, is completely convinced that he is innocent of the allegations and is prepared to defend her family against everything. We are also introduced to Kate. She is the prosecutor for James’ case and is sure that he is guilty and wants to make sure he pays for his crime.

I love how the he said/she said thrillers always unfold. Going from character to character and hearing their sides of the story. The reader never truly knows who to believe! In this book we get to see through James’ eyes, Sophie’s, and Kate’s as the investigation and trial progress. We also get a glimpse into James and Sophie’s past when they met at Oxford and suspicious events that occurred with Holly, Sophie’s tutorial partner.

Both Kate and Sophie are very relatable and likeable characters. You felt for Sophie and the situation she was thrust in and then you can’t wait to see what new information Kate uncovers. James is the complete opposite. If you like a character to hate in a novel, then this one won’t disappoint! He definitely uses his influence, good looks, and charm to get his way.

Overall, if you want a good suspense read with some courtroom drama and a he said/she said theme, then you’ll need to have this on your TBR. With such a relevant topic for today, I’m always curious how authors will approach rape and the events following such a crime. If you want a slow burn suspense that will keep you pulled in, then this is the book for you! If you’re wanting more of an edge-of-your-seat thriller, then this might fall short.

What did you think of this one?? Is it one of your anticipated TBR books for January?

–Jess

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