Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
Pub. Date: July 7, 2015
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s!!)
Summary: Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.
Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.
This time there’s nowhere left to run.
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Adult
Recommended for: Readers who are looking to be thoroughly ensnared in a story, newcomers to Chevy’s work
You might remember my pretty lackluster introduction to Chevy Stevens. I had an issue with the audiobook’s narrator and that – combined with a disappointing execution of what sounded to be an interesting premise – ultimately led to a less-than-stellar first go. Although That Night is an older title and one I had grabbed from my library, the publicist extraordinaire reached out to me and before I begin gushing over how great she is, I’ll just cut to the chase and say that we chatted about the book and she mentioned Chevy’s newest was much better.
Fast forward to about a month later. Much to my surprise, I received a copy of Those Girls. This led to me musing over giving authors second chances and before I knew it, I bypassed all the other books I had in favor of Those Girls. And you know what? I’m SO glad I gave Chevy another shot.
Summer, 1997. The three Campbell sisters (Dani, Courtney, and Jess) are working on a ranch, trying to create some semblance of normalcy while their father is away on the road. Late rent and rats are just a matter of life and since their mother passed, their father has been drowning in alcohol. Drunk and abusive, one night he goes too far and the girls know they need to leave now.
Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse. When their truck breaks down outside town, they consider themselves lucky when two cute boys pull over to help. Little did they know that moment would haunt them for the rest of their lives. You see, Brian and Gavin aren’t the good ol’ boys you hear about in country songs. No, these are Class A psychopaths and waste no time in taking the girls to a secluded warehouse where they’re handcuffed and brutally raped every night. NOT JOKING HERE – the rape scenes are especially graphic and violence reigns throughout this book. Sensitive readers, take note.
Eventually the girls are able to escape and, with the help of a tavern owner and his son, they’re soon on a bus where they’ll start life over again, new names and all. SPOILER Not long after they escape, Jess, the youngest sister at 15, discovers she’s pregnant and my goodness, my heart sank. The pregnancy needed to be mentioned because the second half of the story introduces Skylar, Jess’s daughter. END SPOILER.
Now in their thirties, Dallas, Crystal, and Jamie, have been able to carve out a pretty decent life though their past is constantly threatening to surface. One night, depressed and high, Crystal simply vanishes and it’s Skylar who goes to the apartment, sees the computer searches, and sets off for Cash Creek.
Those Girls surpassed all expectations and I’m thrilled I didn’t write off Stevens after one book. She’s clearly at the top of her game here and I was riveted. I want to go on and on about the story, but I also don’t want to give it all away – this book reads like a movie and the breakneck pace only added to it. So many times I wanted to reach into the book and grab these characters; I wanted to hug the girls, I wanted to do horrible things to Brian and Gavin, I wanted to shake the sheriff and scream ‘You’re so close GO IN THE HOUSE!!‘ Though the climax was a little sitcom-y, it went right along with the whole movie feel and if this was aired on Lifetime in the middle of the afternoon on the weekend, I would be all over it. Those Girls is an excellent rebound from my first attempt at Chevy’s work and a perfect thriller for a rainy day.