Cat Winthorpe is rich, beautiful and the queen bee of the neighbourhood. She has a successful husband and a wonderful life that she has worked hard to get and keep.
Dr Neena Ryder and her husband have just moved into the abandoned estate next door. For Neena getting a home in this neighbourhood is just another tick on her list to climbing the social ladder. She discovers that her neighbours are her new boss William Winthorpe and his lady of leisure wife. While she is glad to be living next door to the wealth she aspires to it also drives home exactly what Neena doesn’t have. William. Neena becomes steadily more infatuated with conquering William and getting the life that she thinks she deserves. What Neena doesn’t realise is that she has a husband who adores her and a built a good life, is she too late to fix the damage her obsession has created?
I listened to the Audible version of this book and absolutely loved it and the narration for it was perfect.
Every Last Secret is told from both the point of view of Cat and of Neena. As they tell their stories you discover that they are both flawed, not very nice human beings who will do anything to get what they want.
While the book very much plays up classic stereotypes of the lady of leisure and the ruthless gold digger, I enjoyed that the two women don’t actually turn out to quite be what you think they are and that Cat has the potential to be a match for Neena’s calculated plans.
Excerpt from Every Last Secret by A. R. Torre
Devastatingly handsome. That was how my mother first described him, and it was apt. I held him at bay for a moment, examining his strong arrangement of features, then pressed my lips against his, enjoying the protective way his hand tightened on the small of my bare back.
“The silent auction is going well.” He nodded to the balcony, where long glass tables displayed two dozen different items.
As I watched, a woman in a beaded gown and a massive emerald ring bent forward and picked up a pen. I had spent the past month soliciting items for the auction, which ranged from an Alaskan spa getaway to a Menlo country club initiation fee.
“Franklin said you added a couple to the guest list.” I ran my hand through his short dark hair, then tugged gently on a thick tuft of it.
He nodded. “Our new hire at the company. Dr. Ryder and her husband.”
How incredibly sexist of me to assume that Dr. Ryder had been a man. I remembered William’s mention of a new employee, some sort of motivational coach for his staff. We’d been at dinner, and I’d been distracted by an odd taste to the pâté and had barely paid attention to his enthusiastic mention of the doctor who he believed would solve the morale issue at Winthorpe Technologies. Money would solve the morale issue. The team had spent four years on a new medical device that could replace pacemakers; pass through metal detectors; and reduce allergic reactions, infections, and surgery complications by more than half. The team’s profit sharing and bonus structures were tied into the successful launch of the product, which had already dragged eighteen months past expectations. Everyone was tired and frustrated. We’d lost our top technician last month, and there was a general feeling of dissension among the ranks. William was über-intelligent, decisive, and charming. He was also a cutthroat workaholic who valued money over personnel and demanded perfectionism without excuses. Leading a team had never been his forte, and I feared that Winthorpe Tech’s staff was close to mutiny.
“Here she is now. Neena,” he said warmly, and in that smile, you’d never think that he had kept the team working on Christmas or cut bonuses as punishment for a failed FDA trial. “This is my wife, Catherine.”
“Cat,” I said, extending my hand. Her grip could have cracked an egg, and I fought back a wince.
“Matt Ryder.” The husband beamed as he shook my hand. “Beautiful home you have here. This thing would survive an earthquake, if need be.”
“I hope it doesn’t have to.” I laughed and didn’t miss the way her arm curled protectively through his. An amusing act, given how much my husband overshadowed hers. “Thank you both for coming. The party is in support of a great cause.”
“It’s for the Center for the Performing Arts, right?” the man asked, his fair eyebrows linking together intently.
On the right breast of his tuxedo shirt, there was a pale-golden stain. Chardonnay? Tequila? I checked William’s shirt, unsurprised to see that it was spotless, my husband as ready for a photo shoot as he was a party.
“That’s right. Are you familiar with Atherton? The center is on Middlefield Road.”
“We’re growing more familiar with it. In fact, we’ve put a home under contract just next door,” the woman supplied with an unnaturally white smile. I stalled, surprised by the response.
“You mean right next door? The Bakers’ old home?” Home was a nice term for it. It was the neighborhood’s resident teardown, a foreclosure that had spent the last five years dragging through the courts. If it ever came up for sale, I had plans to knock down the entire structure and replace it with an expansion to our pool area and gardens.