The Fear by C.L Taylor
Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…
This novel has an extremely relevant theme. With more and more women coming forward; regarding their experiences of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement’s media reach. The central theme is the abuse of power, by male teacher Mike Hughes. The trauma of the past will have severe repercussions for victim Lou Wandsworth. This is a griping psychological thriller, with many thought-provoking points.
The novel opens with the now adult Lou and her most recent boyfriend Ben. Having organised a secret surprise for Lou, Ben takes her to the ferry port to Calais.
Only what Ben doesn’t know, is that for Lou this journey brings back flashbacks of a much darker time…..
‘In an instant I am fourteen years old again’
Back in Malvern, someone is stalking Lou, using the accessibility of social media, to track her down. They have taken their time, created a fake profile and seem hell bent on making Lou pay, but who? And why?
The narrative of what occurred between Lou and Mike when they fled the UK for France; is explored in a serious of memories and flashbacks. The author has done an outstanding job, of describing the seduction and fear of the teenage victims. The perpetrators desperation for control and in some way, what he looks for in his potential victims.
As the mother of a teenage girl, I was horrified!
‘I don’t know why you’re blaming me for everything, you know what you were getting yourself into’ – Mike
The trauma of the experience at the ferry port, leads Lou to believe she must confront Mike. On reflection she knows she was groomed for abuse, she hears his voice within her head. Lou believes, that to overcome her internal fear she must make Mike face up to what he has done to her. But Mike is a sexual predator, who blames his victims for his sexual appetite. He will not accept accountability, so easily…..
When Lou tracks down Mike, she finds him in the embrace of a 13/14yr old girl. She is shocked and disturbed, by the way in which Mike is so casually re-offending. Lou speaks to the local police officers, but with no proof of what she saw and a young girl in denial. They have nothing to go on. Which puts Lou firmly back at square one!
The young teenage girl, is Chloe Meadows. As victims go, she is highly complex herself. Her parents show little interest in her life, she is lonely and has very low self-esteem. I was surprised at her parent’s lack of protection and regard for her safety with the internet. This enabling Mike to have constant communication with his victim, poisoning her mind at every turn.
‘I thought I was so grown up.
That my life was a romantic movie.
That I was in control. I couldn’t have been more wrong’ – Lou
As Lou’s investigation into Mike and his relationship with Chloe intensifies, so does Lou’s stalkers. This is a novel with constant simmering confrontations and a high level of emotion. This makes it one hell of a tense read!!!!!
When Mike took Lou to France, she assumed it was a romantic trip. When she got there, she discovered his intentions were much more sinister. Mike is a master manipulator, as evidenced in Lou’s experiences in France. When She returns home, Mike is sentenced to 5yrs in jail. He loses his career, wife and freedom. But can men like this ever be rehabilitated? Is he just biding time, to locate and move in, on a new victim? Lou is labelled an ‘embarrassment’ and disgrace by her father. I had to ask myself, who really paid the bigger price, Lou or Mike?
‘You’re to hold my hand all the way there, keep your eyes lowered and do as you’re told’
Mike’s justifications for his actions are sickening. But he is unaware, that Lou kept a diary of her experiences. A diary that may help her prove what a sick individual Mike is.
This novel has an incredibly tense build up to a shocking ending! Those last four pages, show just how cleverly plotted out the entire novel is. Huge respect for the author for ensuring her novel reads right up to the very last sentence. 5*
***I don’t add buying links on my reviews, but I will give you the heads up that the kindle & paperback version of The Fear are just £2.99 via Amazon***
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