From breakout thriller writer Paula Daly, Keep Your Friends Close is a riveting and electrifying story of a husband and wife and the devious best friend who comes between them.
Natty and Sean Wainwright have a rock-solid marriage with two teenage daughters, a successful hotel business, and a beautiful house. When their youngest daughter falls ill on an overseas school trip, Natty rushes to her side. Luckily, Natty’s best friend, Eve Dalladay, is visiting and offers to stay with Sean to lend a hand in the Wainwright household. But Natty comes home to find that Eve has taken to family life a little too well: Sean has fallen in love with her. With no choice but to put on a brave face, Natty attempts to set her life straight again but Eve is always there to knock her down. Then Natty receives an anonymous note that reveals Eve to be a serial mistress. She’s done this beforeand the consequences were fatal. Now Natty must navigate through a treacherous maze of secrets that jeopardizes her life and the safety of her loved ones.
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About the Author
Paula Daly is the author of Just What Kind of Mother Are You? , Keep Your Friends Close , and The Mistake I Made. She lives in North West England with her husband, three children, and dog Skippy.
Read an Excerpt
ARE YOU LIVING in the moment?
I'm trying to. Really, I am. Periodically, throughout the day, I stop what I'm doing and say to myself, This is it. This moment is all you have. Enjoy it. Feel it. Embrace The Now.
So, right now, in this moment, I'm embracing cleaning fake tan from the walls of an en suite. It's a recently upgraded bathroom – solid marble wall tiles, twin Corian sinks – which one of the hotel guests decided would double up nicely as a St Tropez tanning booth.
I'm ignoring the fact that she's used the cream Ralph Lauren bath towels to home-dye her hair a deep magenta, and instead my attention flits between wondering what colour this woman would be in her natural state, and, if I were to nip home in the next hour, take a chicken out of the freezer, would it be defrosted in time for tonight's dinner?
I pile the ruined towels together in a heap in the centre of the bathroom and pour some bleach on to a toothbrush. I'm having real trouble removing the fake tan from the grout in between the tiles. This trick usually works so I set to, taking care not to splash any bleach on my suit trousers, all the while thinking: What am I doing in here? We have an army of staff for this.
But they won't attend to such details. You can train them till you're blue in the face and they'll still skim over the fine points, won't do the necessary extras to keep this place looking truly exceptional.
And that's why our guests come back. Because Lakeshore Lodge is exceptional.
If you've ever spent a night here, on your return, you'll get a personal greeting from either Sean, myself or the general manager – and we will remember to ask about your family, your journey to Windermere. Waiting in your room will be a miniature bottle of pink Moët, a box of six handmade chocolates and an individually wrapped Cartmel sticky toffee pudding. As well as a handwritten card saying, 'So pleased to see you again!'
For us it's about the extras. It's all about making the guests feel as though they really matter. And it's why we operate at 90 per cent occupancy, even when it's the low season. Even during November, when it can rain for thirty days and thirty nights consecutively and the filthy grey cloud is so low in the sky you can almost touch it with your fingertips.
There's a knock on the bathroom door. I stop scrubbing with the toothbrush and turn.
'Mrs Wainwright, I'm so sorry to bother you but there's a problem in the junior suite.'
Libby is one of the housekeepers. She's been here for three years and is one of my best cleaners.
'What is it?'
'That Indian family we had in last night? They heated up curry in the bedroom.'
I roll my eyes. Though this is not a major disaster, it happens from time to time. 'Just get the windows open, Libby, give it an airing. The next guests aren't due in until after eight tonight, so you've got plenty of time to give everything a good wash down.'
Libby squints and knits her brows together at the same time. Something she does when she knows I'm about to shout at what she has to say.
'What is it?' I ask sharply. 'Did they bring in extra bodies?' I hate to typecast here, but it's not unusual for additional children, babies ... Grandma, to be smuggled in, unpaid for.
Libby shifts her weight from one foot to the other. 'They heated it up inside the kettle.'
'The curry?' I ask. 'Inside the electric kettle?'
She nods. 'I think the element might be kind of screwed.'
'Oh, for God's sake.'
I place the toothbrush by the side of the sink and begin kneading the back of my neck, swallowing the bark of abuse which was on its way out, as I have the beginnings of a migraine. It's at the base of my skull and if I were to lose my temper fully right now, it would jump straight behind my eyes, meaning the rest of the day would be a write-off.
'Well, that's a first,' I say softly, but Libby knows to keep her eyes low.
Because I can be unpredictable at times like this.
Often Libby will tell me the worst news: laundry room flooded, two housemaids called in sick ... a rat ... and I'll take it on the chin. I'll deal with it quietly and get on with the day. But other times I can go apoplectic over a dusty skirting board, a lone fingerprint on a mirror.
I'm not easy. I can be kind of prickly and I've been meditating to try to keep myself more balanced. Sean says he can see a clear difference, but I'm not so sure I'm getting anywhere with it.
'What should I do?' Libby asks.
'Go give the kettle to Sean. Tell him you need a new one from the spares store and tell him to check how many are left. He might need to order another batch. Tell him to look online and see if he can get a better price. Those glass kettles were stupidly expensive. Tell him to look at stainless steel instead.'
When she's left the room I call her back.
'Libby? Second thoughts, tell him to stick with the glass. They're classier.'
Libby keeps her face impassive. Waits for me to change my mind another time.
'You're sure?' she asks tentatively.
It's only when I'm rinsing the toothbrush and applying more bleach that I remember Sean's otherwise engaged this morning. His mother is here.
Penny, Sean's mother, visits Thursday afternoons. She spends a couple of hours with Sean; he takes her out. They might have a jaunt over to Sharrow Bay at Ullswater, or perhaps take afternoon tea down the road at Storrs Hall. Anywhere, really. Anywhere that's not Lakeshore Lodge – as Sean would face a constant stream of interruptions. And his mother generally demands his full attention. They normally return from their outing around 4 p.m., in time for the girls arriving in from school. Now, during the lighter evenings of British Summertime, Penny will stay for dinner. In the winter months she's back on the road, heading for the village of Crook, before darkness sets in.
Today is the first Wednesday in May. Not Penny's usual day to visit, but she's off to Nice for a few days with her photography club tomorrow.
I crash through the front door just before five, carrying chicken breasts, a small bag of morels (which I had to swipe from the head chef), a bottle of Marsala, and two books of carpet samples I need to look at before six – when the fitter is calling to get my selection. The hotel's conservatory carpet is showing heavy tread by the doorway and I should have made my choice by the end of last week, but the days have got away from me.
'Natty!' Penny exclaims, rising from the armchair as I enter the lounge. 'You look dead beat! Sean, go and make your poor wife some tea before she topples over from exhaustion.'
I place a kiss on Penny's cheek. 'You look really well from your trip,' I say to her, and tell Sean not to bother with the tea.
Penny is just back from visiting Sean's sister in Fremantle and her skin is leathery. It's a deep mahogany-brown. Penny has taken a lot of sun over the years, she's rail thin, and, you know when they put wigs on skeletons on the TV and it looks kind of funny? That is Sean's mother.
'Lucy's little ones all right?' I ask, kicking my heels off as the phone rings out in the hallway. Sean goes to answer it.
'Wonderful,' she answers. 'It's a joy to watch her with them. She has the time, you see, Natty? It makes all the difference. All the difference in the world. She's talking of having a third, now that Robert's finally got the promotion.'
'Another baby would be lovely,' I say brightly. 'Is she hoping for a girl this time?'
Penny dismissively waves away my words with her hand. 'Oh, she's not bothered in the slightest. She simply loves mothering. I do worry if she's getting a little too old for another child, though. But she assures me forty is not considered old these days.'
'More and more women are having babies at forty,' I say.
'She wouldn't let me do a thing while I was there, Natty. I don't know where she gets her energy from, I really don't. She's still up with Alfie half the night.'
'Nice for you to have a rest and enjoy the children.'
'Well, of course, she's still breastfeeding Alfie, so there's not a lot to be done there, and Will is such a kind boy. I can hardly believe he's five already. Where do the years go to? I just don't know.'
There is a subtext to this conversation. In fact, there's a subtext to every conversation with Penny, which is probably worth pointing out here.
I fell unexpectedly pregnant, aged nineteen and during my first year at university. Or perhaps, more importantly, during Sean's first year at university. We both left our respective courses and returned home to Windermere, Sean giving up a degree in law, me a degree in radiography.
It was a tricky time with Penny because in her eyes I'd ruined her son's future. 'Nineteen is far too young to be parents. What sort of life can either of you offer a child when you're still children yourselves?'
That's how she put it, but again, there was a subtext, this one being that she'd spent goodness knows how much on Sean's education at Sedbergh School, only to have him blow it on some silly local girl he should have got rid of ages ago.
To her credit, Penny softened when Alice arrived. She became the doting grandmother and I was able to tolerate the constant digs about our recklessness because, simply, without my own mother, I needed her.
'Lucy's starting to wean Alfie,' she says now. 'You should see the lengths she goes to, Natty. She has the most wonderful piece of kit – an electric steamer. It keeps all the nutrients inside the vegetables. Then she purées them or pushes them through a sieve and freezes the lot in ice-cube trays ... The work that's involved, it absolutely amazes me. Like I said, though, she has the time. She can afford to do it properly.'
I smile weakly because, the thing is, I went through all the same palaver when Alice was born. I was so set on proving everyone wrong, so set on demonstrating that it was not a mistake for us to have a baby, that I tried my damnedest to be the perfect mother. I, too, steamed and puréed. I, too, breastfed longer than anyone was really comfortable with. I, too, carried my babies everywhere to give them the full Continuum Concept experience.
Penny just can't recall any of this because it was sixteen years ago. And I don't go reminding her about it now because I gave up playing the Who's-the-best-mother? game when my sister-in-law's first son got out of nappies. No matter what I said, in Penny's brain Lucy had got her life in order – emotionally and financially – before deciding to become a parent. The responsible way to do it.
Sometimes, over the past few years, it's been hard to remember that Lucy is actually a nice person. A person who Sean and I get along with very well. What is it with parents that they end up making you almost detest family members because of their proclivity for comparison? Their quick reminders of how their other child is doing a better job?
Sean comes back into the room. 'That was Eve on the phone,' he says. There's a mischievous glint in his eye which means that he, too, has been subject to his mother's stories of Lucy's marvellous puréeing. I probably got the edited version, actually. 'Eve's wondering if it's all right if she calls in tomorrow evening. She's finishing a series of lectures in Scotland and will be passing through.'
'Is that your friend from America?' Penny interrupts, chin raised. 'The clever girl with the good job?'
'Yes, God, I've not seen her in over two years. Did she say how long she was in the country?'
Sean shakes his head.
'Did you tell her it was okay to come?'
'I said if it wasn't, you'd call her straight back.'CHAPTER 2
SPRING WEATHER IN the Lake District is pretty much like the rest of the year. Changeable. This morning there's a fine drizzle, and low mist hanging in the valley above Lake Windermere. I stand looking out, coffee in hand.
Try to imagine every shade of green possible crammed into one small frame – khaki, bottle-green, sage, olive, lime, pistachio, right through to the paler shade of moorland grass, and you'll get something close to the view from my window.
Yesterday I rose to find brilliant clear skies and the valley filled with a thick, dense fog. Like a huge glacier it crawled southwards down the lake surface, enveloping everything in its path. Tomorrow I will have no view at all if the forecasted heavy rains arrive.
Bowness-on-Windermere is the busiest small town in the Lake District. It sits on the eastern shore of the lake, and both my home and the hotel are situated about a mile from the centre. Just close enough for the hotel guests to enjoy a pleasant stroll in, just far enough away for Sean and me to escape the crazy crowds of tourists who pack the place during the summer months.
I grew up here. And unlike most of my contemporaries, who, once grown, couldn't wait to escape for city life, I have always wanted to remain. Incidentally, most have returned now that they're raising families of their own. Bowness has a definite village feel – yes, everyone knows everyone, crime is low and people genuinely care about each other – but we have the amenities of a place typically much larger. An English village of a few thousand residents could not generally support a cinema, Michelin-starred restaurants and a supermarket. It's the influx of tourists that enables us to live a fairly cosmopolitan life while at the same time residing in a distinctly rural area, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Still in my pyjamas, I rinse my cup in the sink and head out the front door with the bag of rubbish. Our tarmac driveway is slick and shiny; everything smells clean and new. I sling the black bag into the outside wheelie bin then give the lid a quick wipe-over with the cloth I've brought purposely for the job.
On my way back I notice that the night rain has sent splatters of grit up the lower half of the front door, so I grab the mop and give it the once-over. While I'm at it I decide to give the lamp above the porch a quick clean, too, and get rid of some cobwebs around the door frame at the same time.
Back inside the kitchen, Alice looks up at me from her mug of mocha. 'Have you started mopping the driveway now as well?' she asks, her voice laced with sarcasm, and I choose to ignore her.
It's quieter in the house than usual. Our younger daughter, Felicity, is on a school trip in France. Thirty of them left by coach on Sunday night and arrived in southern Normandy some twenty-seven hours later. She's due back on Saturday.
I can't decide yet if Alice is more difficult when Felicity is here or not. There are two years between them – Alice is sixteen, Felicity fourteen – and like most parents will tell you about their children, they are completely different in temperament.
What I don't say openly is that Alice takes after me in that she's a classic Type A. Both of us push ourselves to the point of breaking.
We're like toddlers who keep going at an unprecedented rate, only to snap at anyone close by before collapsing with exhaustion into uncontrollable crying. A well-meaning adult might smile on benevolently, sighing: 'Oh dear, I think she's ready for her nap ...'
I check the calendar and on seeing the small asterisk scribbled in the corner of Saturday's box, take out a B vitamin, and slide it across the table towards Alice.
She's wearing her new leopard-print onesie. When she prowls around the house in it I find myself humming 'The Magical Mr Mistoffelees'.
'What's this for?' she asks, staring at the tablet.
'PMS – it's supposed to help.'
She glares at me. 'It's not me who's edgy, Mum,' she says, and takes herself upstairs, leaving me with the mild wounded feeling that follows most of our exchanges.
I get on with preparing her lunch. There's enough chicken breast left over from last night's dinner to jazz up a nice Caesar salad. I wash the lettuce, and as I dab it dry so it doesn't go soggy for her later, I begin mentally running through what we've eaten this week, before deciding on the menu for tonight's dinner with Eve.
We've had red meat twice, so that's a no-no. Carbs-wise, we've had potatoes once, rice once, crusty white baguette once – which means we're down to have pasta. But I don't want to serve pasta when I've not seen Eve for so long. I want something a little more special.
Eventually I settle on salmon in a champagne cream sauce and break my oncea-week-potatoes rule by planning to serve the fillets with some nice Jersey Royals and green asparagus. It's a touch early in the season for asparagus. I do try to keep things seasonal and locally sourced, but I've heard even the Italians eat tomatoes now in the wintertime. I know! I was pretty surprised by that as well.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Keep Your Friends Close"
Copyright © 2014 Paula Daly.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Has this book been published under another name or is it based on every Lifetime movie ever shown? Parts of this book are very familiar, even the dialogue.
I started this book at 8pm last night, thinking I'd read for a couple of hours...but I couldn't stop until I was done! It's fast moving and impossible to put down. Highly recommended.
Good book but.....the endind sucked!!!! Or rather no ending .
"It is perhaps just as well that handguns are illegal in the UK. Because if I had access to one, if I had it hidden in the wardrobe, kept in a box beneath the bed in case an intruder should break in during the night, I'd have already taken that gun and put it to Eve's head. I'd have blown her pretty skull wide open in front of whoever happened to be nearby. Probably blown apart her stomach, took her kneecaps off too while I was at it." "I pull out the honyaki knife from it's case and examine the steel. I paid a lot for this knife. It's a chef's knife, it cuts through steak like butter. And as I hold it in my hand, feeling the weight of it, I can almost hear the sound it will make when leaving Eve's chest. It's the sound of a child slurping warm tea. The rush of air across a wet surface." You'd think the speaker of the above words is a murderous psychopath, the antagonist in the story. Would it surprise you that the speaker is actually the victim? Yes...that's how much Eve, the villain impacts those around her. As a reader, I didn't quite find those dark intentions floating in my thoughts, but I was surprised by the expletives that came out of my mouth while reading. You're forewarned. Eve is a two-faced, fixated, psychotic b*tch and she will make you absolutely crazy. Keep Your Friends Close is a standalone novel written by author: Paula Daly. This story encompasses components from many genres: psychological thriller, suspense, crime, drama, a light mystery, even some women's fiction elements. The combination created an entertaining depth that I just couldn't put down. My favorite part of this book was the ending (which will remain spoiler-free), but the awesomeness of it couldn't have happened without the characters and all the build up that created a perfect storm of emotions to make the ending both subtle and jaw-dropping. All of the characters are written in a way that allows you to feel incredibly invested. I loved this book and I am so excited to have found a new author to loyally follow. Check out the book synopsis and see if it's a storyline you'd like. Just keep your emotions in check while reading so you don't appear to be the unhinged one ;) Note: This is the second book I have read by this author and I'm loving her storytelling. With both of her novels I have read, I must note though that they took a bit for me to really feel engaged. The writing seems slow-moving in the beginning but once it gets going, it really gets going!!! Just hang in there :) My favorite quote: "If you didn't already know it, you can count up your real friends on the fingers of one hand. Everyone aside from these people are mere acquaintances, not to be relied on in a crisis, nowhere to be found when you really need them."
Oh my gosh how can they end a book without closure...I understand that Eve will die but I wanted more...however I bit my nails to the quick this is a very twisted book.
Great read !!!
Excellent story and marvelously twisty ending. Loved it.
This novel from Paula Daly (whose last book, “Just What Kind of Mother Are You,” I absolutely loved!) brings back D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. The protagonist who crosses paths with Aspinall is Natasha (“Natty”) Wainwright, who with her husband, Sean, run a successful hotel in Windermere in England’s Lake District, and has an enviable life with him and their two daughters, 16 and 14 years old, when their younger daughter becomes ill while on a school trip, and Eve must fly off to southern Normandy where the girl must have an appendectomy. As fate would have it, Eve Dalladay, Natty’s best friend from college, has just come on a visit from the States and offers to stay at the house until Natty can return home. As things transpire, it would appear that Eve is not who she seems, by any definition, and is a more devious woman than anyone could have guessed. The plot twists follow closely upon one another, but suffice it to say that Natty comes to the attention of the police, and D.C. Aspinall, when she rams her Porsche into the back of a Maserati where Eve is sitting in the driver’s seat. And it is no accident. Sean and Natty met at a sixteenth-birthday party when they were in school, deciding upon graduation that he would study law, and she would study biology. After sixteen years of marriage, things did not work as they had hoped or planned. But this turn of events is something far, far different. The suspense mounts, and lives are altered, literally and figuratively. The question arises, “Would you ever kill another person out of jealousy or hatred?” The author has written another gripping novel, one that is recommended.
Great book if youre looking for some light yet entertaining reading. I neefed a break from all the mystrry novels i had bee reading when this caught my eye. You can read the plot here on the Details page so i wont rehash. A little bit of mystery, family dynamics and a deceiptful character i loved to hate.
Paula Daly’s KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE is an addictive, intense, and riveting suspense of marriage, family, obsession, betrayal, lies, and dark secrets . . . keeping you glued to the pages of this psychological thriller. Set in England’s Lake District, Natasha (Natty) Wainwright is married to Sean, with two teenage daughters, (16 yr. old Alice, and 14 yr. old Felicity). They live a good life, owning and managing a busy hotel, with busy lives. However, Natty finds herself focused on making sure the hotel is running properly. A type A personality, perfectionist, overseeing everything at the hotel,to ensure the best guest experience, and of course the perfect and loving mother, and employer. She has little time life over for her husband’s needs. Enter, Eve her best friend from college, glamorous, sophisticated, now newly divorced, visiting from the US, a successful psychologist. The day she arrives for a visit, Natty receives the frantic phone call, her daughter has a ruptured appendix in France. Being the good mother, she sets off to tend to her daughter, leaving behind her husband and daughter. What she does not consider is Eve. Does she really know Eve? By the time she returns home with her daughter, manipulative and evil Eve, her supposedly best friend, has taken over her life, her husband, and her home. What follows is a series of events which lead down a dangerous path. Natty wants revenge; however, one act of car ramming, spirals out of control. When Eve turns the tables on Natty, turning her family against her, as Natty is arrested, and Eve continues to spin her a web of deceit and slowly takes everything from Natty. Natty is racing against time to save herself, her family, and her life from the clutches of this evil dark woman, who appears to be poised and calm on the exterior. In the meantime, Natty has a secret and Eve knows the secret and will use it against her. Having read Daly’s debut novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You, could not wait to read her follow up novel, which does not disappoint! It was even better (if that is possible). Told in alternating voices, Natty (1st person), Joanne (3rd), for an absorbing novel, masterfully crafted, femme fatale Eve, with a mixture of humor, intrigue, drama, psychological aspects, and suspense - coming at you with twists and turns, keeping you turning into the wee hours of the morning to learn the fate of these well-developed characters. If you read Just What Kind of Mother Am I, (highly recommend) then you will enjoy hearing from a familiar character, Joanne Aspinall, the female cop with the big boobs, and boy, oh boy, are you in for a treat with her aunt, Mad Jackie. She is a total riot, as hoping Natty would sick Mad Jackie on wacko, Eve. Loved Natty, and totally disliked Sean, as he definitely is not thinking with his head, but other body parts. Fans of Gone Girl will devour (saw the movie yesterday and read the book) beats it, hands down. Daly is a powerhouse writer to follow. She knows psychological, family dynamics, and strong mother characters-grabbing you from page one and never lets go!