‘No One Knows Us Here’ – Rebecca Kelley
In this gripping novel about obsession, control, and self-preservation, a woman desperate to provide a new life for her sister enters a compromising arrangement with an entitled tech billionaire.
Rosemary Rabourne is already struggling to pay the bills when her recently orphaned half sister, Wendy, shows up at her door. Rosemary will try anything to provide for the traumatized teenager—even joining a high-end escort service.
Leo Glass is the billionaire CEO of a revolutionary social app. He wants the “girlfriend experience”—someone contractually obligated to love him—and he thinks he’s found the perfect match in Rosemary. His proposition has its perks: a free luxury apartment and financial security. And its conditions: constant surveillance and availability whenever Leo calls. It’s not the life Rosemary wants, but she’s out of options.
Then she meets her new neighbor, Sam, a musician with whom Rosemary shares an immediate attraction and a genuine intimacy she’s never felt with anyone. Falling in love makes it possible to imagine a real new life. But Leo won’t let go of her that easily, and his need for control escalates. So does Rosemary’s desperation—to protect Wendy, to protect herself, and, at any price, to escape.
With a foolish protagonist, a basic plot and a very protracted ending, this turned into just an average read. I was frustrated with Rosemary’s attitude throughout and thought the writer could have done far more with making the plot suspenseful.
Quite often, I felt uncomfortable when reading this narrative. I could not believe how easily Rosemary is coerced into being Leo’s fake girlfriend and how quickly she is submissive to his demands. Despite reminding herself that she is doing it to create a better life for her and her sister, I thought her choices were poor and obviously demonstrative of Leo’s controlling tendencies. I wanted Rosemary to pause and question what she was doing, but her mantra that she signed up for this way of living was merely a weak way of justifying everything in her head. It didn’t work for me.
What’s more, I failed to believe that Rosemary had her sister’s best interests at heart. She frequently abandons Wendy, even once they are living together, and I could not understand how Rosemary does not take a more proactive involvement in her younger sister’s life. Although there are warning signs that something is not quite right, Rosemary buries her head in the sand, happily blaming her contract with Leo for her failings.
The technology referred to in this story was interesting. It is basically a wide-spread surveillance system that claims to be used for social media and dating. It made my skin crawl, especially as people around Rosemary seem to willingly accept this invasion of privacy. I thought Kelley could have done more with this element of the story, developing it further around Leo’s sinister personality. Instead, it is more like an after thought and an added method of control over Rosemary.
I kept reading this book in the anticipation of some clever twists and turns. Yet, despite my wild theories throughout, these never materialised and this made me feel that the plot was significantly lacking in tension. Whilst considered as a thriller, I thought the plot was quite standard, even if the behaviours did make my toes curl. Furthermore, I thought the ending made the story to be too far-fetched for my liking and I thought the writer could have wrapped things up far more quickly. I was not interested in the court case and by this point, just wanted to see Rosemary’s future decided.
This was an alright read but it did not set me alight. I was looking for a suspenseful narrative that would have me questioning the plot direction. Instead, I was questioning the sanity of the protagonist, wondering why Rosemary would allow herself to get into such ludicrous situations.