Title: Just One Look
Author: Lindsay Cameron
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: July 27, 2021
A young woman's escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception.
Eyes aren't the windows to the soul. Emails are.
Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking--love, friends, stability--and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.
While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn't read them. But it's just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can't look away.
Every day, twenty floors below Forest's corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.
Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a "chance" meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she's been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn't simply admire Annabelle--she wants to take her place. And she's armed with the tools to make that happen.
Talk about crazy!
Cassie Woodson had it all. She was an attorney at the top of her game until something happened that made her lose it all. She was disgraced publically with the videos that went viral to prove it.
This made Cassie stay in bed for months barely making it. She knows she can't continue this way and she applies for a temp job which is all she can get with her prior history.
The job entails hours of sorting through emails to see the relevance involving a fraud case. However, by mistake, a partner's personal emails are also in Cassie's review inbox.
Cassie becomes obsessed with Forrest Watts's emails to his wife, Annabelle. They are full of love and they depict a beautiful life together. Things that are all missing in Cassie's life. Her obsession makes her stalk them on social media, following their Instagram posts and saving every detail from their emails in a binder.
Despite not having much of an income, Cassie starts buying the same wine they drink and the perfume and make-up Annabelle wears. Then, Cassie realizes the couple has become estranged and this would be the perfect time for her to fill the void Forrest must be having. Creating a chance encounter to meet him is easy when she has all the details of his life embedded in her brain.
Stalkers scare me for sure but I couldn't stop myself from rooting for Cassie to be able to achieve some type of happiness. The more I discovered the reasons Cassie was the way she was, the more I felt sorry for her. She was smart but at the same time she was so fragile and one step from getting admitted to a psych unit.
Just One Look had me turning the pages in a fast motion. I couldn't get enough of the story and despite seeing the twist from the very beginning, I wanted to see how it would all play out in the end.
A complimentary copy was provided by Ballantine Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.