The Dark Side of Love – The Anti-Valentine’s Day Reading List

So, who’s excited about Valentine’s Day?

Yeah, me neither.

Heart shaped boxes of chocolate? Cutesy teddy bears? Obligatory visits to romantic restaurants? Yuck. Throw in some pretty red roses in a fancy wrapper, and I’m rolling my eyes out loud.

For me, the perfect way to un-celebrate would be with a nice coffee and a good book, under my favourite blankie.

So let’s discover together the dark side of love! These fourteen books have one thing in common: a love story gone horribly wrong.

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. Whom she will soon be willing to risk anything for.
But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants.
When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in play that can end only one way.
An eye for an eye. A wife for a wife.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. It’s the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman
Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.

But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.

The Wife by Alafair Burke
When Angela met Jason Powell, while catering a function in the Hamptons, she assumed their romance would be a fling. But, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. The marriage meant a fresh start, a chance for Angela and her young son to move to Manhattan where no one knew of her tragic past.

Six years later, her husband has become a successful and celebrated liberal figurehead, but when a college intern and then another woman come forward with allegations against him, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, but Angela is forced to ask how well she ever really knew her husband, and if she can afford to stand by him and risk her own past being revealed.

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds
She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia-she’s lost a whole year of memories. A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did-or what happened the night she fell. But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
Would you stake your life on your marriage?
Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.
Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.
Until one of them breaks the rules.
The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
Because The Pact is for life.
And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
Hailed as the most suspenseful and compelling novel in decades, PRESUMED INNOCENT brings to life our worst nightmare: that of an ordinary citizen facing conviction for the most terrible of all crimes. It’s the stunning portrayal of one man’s all-too-human, all-consuming fatal attraction for a passionate woman who is not his wife, and the story of how his obsession puts everything he loves and values on trial–including his own life. It’s a book that lays bare a shocking world of betrayal and murder, as well as the hidden depths of the human heart. And it will hold you and haunt you…long after you have reached its shattering conclusion.

The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher
Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything Massimo has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.

Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. The one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife Caitlin. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd
Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.

A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.

When the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, however, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all.
But how do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Safety and security are commodities you can sell in return for excitement, but you can never buy them back.

Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, a scientist renowned in her field but one day, she makes the most irrational of decisions. While she is giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she meets a man and has sex with him in the secluded Chapel in the Crypt. It’s the beginning of a reckless liaison, but there is more to her lover than is at first apparent, as Yvonne discovers when the affair spins out of control and leads inexorably to violence.

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and towards the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his secret plans for their weekend at the cottage?

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51 comments

  1. terriluvsbooks

    This is an awesome idea for a blog post. I haven’t read any of these. DH and I don’t go our ON V-Day most of the time because of the crowds. Most years, I buy myself something and use the holiday as justification. 🙂

    Like

  2. haha this is a great list! Both The Husband’s Secret and Gone Girl are great choices and definitely involve a doomed marriage. I haven’t read any of the others but I think I will have to check out My Husband’s Wife 🙂

    Like

  3. Ohh ! swimming lessons looks right up my alley and got added to my virtually want to read !

    Also if I may – I’d add In a dark dark wood by ruth ware aswell, taking place in a “bachelorette” party weekend for a future bride … which end up in a murder – and not from who you would think ! It has negative reviews, but lord how I loved this one !! I was just blowned at the ending. Still thinking about it after having finished it last month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, that book sounds pretty good!
      I don’t always pay attention to reviews and ratings to be honest, because some of the books I actually love, have quite low-ish ratings. Like 3.5-3.6 but damn, i enjoyed them!

      Liked by 1 person

      • yes !! That’s why I don’t either, and frankly.. it’s not the first time I’ve loved poor rated books xD as long as I haven’t saw the “thriller ending” coming, and if I can relate and somehow feel as the character .. im sold.

        Let me know if you do end up reading it how you liked it ! 😘

        Liked by 1 person

  4. All of these books sound really interesting. I love Gone Girl, it’s the book that got me into reading psychological thrillers.I’ve heard really good things about The Husband’s Secret, so I should get around to reading it.

    Like

  5. Fantastic theme! And I couldn’t agree more. Honestly, I’m just not a romantic kind of person. First, Valentine’s Day is a marketing gimmick. Second, how romantic is it to “show your love” on a day where it’s explicitly expected? I much prefer random acts of love on unexpected days. 😉 But I digress…

    I love, love, love the idea of anti-Valentine’s reading…or the dark side of love. Brilliant.

    Like

  6. Ah, so many good books! I’ve read and loved My Husband’s Wife, The Marriage Pact, and Gone Girl! I’ve heard great things about Best Day Ever and The Wife, so I’m looking forward to them both! I read Big Little Lies, But haven’t read another book of hers, which I hate!

    Also, didn’t realize that so may thrillers had the words Husband and Wife in the title. Guess is it’s the new Girl. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Favorite Things | Modern Witch's Bookshelf

  8. Haha your intro was so relatable. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day either – since all the couples that seem successful are fictional. Gone Girl totally fits this list, I loved reading that book!

    Liked by 1 person

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