Goodreads Summary (Review Below) For Stay By Jane Bailey:
I simply climbed into the car – and into the life – of perfect strangers.
When nineteen-year-old Caitlin leaves her boyfriend in Europe and hitches back home, she accepts a lift from a young family who convinces her to break the journey for the night at their remote country house. Then lockdown happens.
Caitlin agrees to tutor their daughters, but this is no ordinary place: they have no internet, and her phone mysteriously disappears. The charming Marcus seduces her, seemingly with the consent of his calm and beautiful wife, Mimi, but when their sinister motives slowly unravel, Caitlin is truly trapped.
Can she escape with the children before it is too late?
Reason #1- Claustrophobic Thriller
Ok. I stole Claustrophobic from somewhere, but I’m not sure where. However, for reasons I’ll go into below, that is the best word to describe Stay By Jane Bailey. It is a claustrophobic thriller. I don’t understand how under the radar Stay seems to be. It could be the difference in release dates. Officially, it was released (and is available on Audible-which I bought it from) on August 17, 2023. However, the release date given on Edelweiss (I assume for the States) is February 27, 2024. However, it is a compelling slow-roll thriller that provides a constant feeling of dread. Stay is one of those books you talk to. As Caitlin slowly comes across things said or events that happened, you feel your spine straighten. I often caught myself saying, “No, no, no,” or, “Don’t look, don’t go, don’t ask.” At once, you want Caitlin to save herself and eventually Henna and Daisy, and at the same time, the dread of figuring it all out.
Reason #2- Hint Drops
Part of the way Jane Bailey keeps you hooked throughout the slow burn of Stay is by hint-dropping throughout the book. Without spoiling anything, I can say this. There are times something happens, is said, or something new is introduced. At the time, it might all seem innocuous. However, Caitlyn’s inner narrative will then comment on how, in hindsight, it would be necessary or essential to later events. These perfectly timed hints make for quite a few gasp-out-loud moments. And they serve to keep Stay’s suspense level high. Then the perfectly dropped events or conversations happen that you know are cause for concern. These are also perfectly plotted throughout Stay. With this, Jane Bailey makes the reading journey of Stay as thrilling as the conclusion. The tension of all these happenings is as terrifying as the ultimate reveals. This makes Stay a paralyzing and riveting read.
Reason #3- Covid
Honestly, I avoid books with plagues and especially covid these days. I imagine that, like many people, it is all a bit much. If it is mentioned offhand, that is fine. But being the centerpiece of a plot makes me cringe. This isn’t the fault of the authors. It is specifically my thing. Stay is the exception that proves the rule. Jane Bailey’s use of the lockdown not only makes buy-in much more accessible. Although, admittedly, Caitlyn does make some stupid decisions, the lockdown makes those choices very believable. Not only that, but it becomes the when part of the setting. And that backdrop provides the claustrophobic feel of Stay that I mentioned above. Being outright kidnapped would be one thing. Not knowing if you want to be somewhere or not but definitely can’t leave due to circumstances out of your control? That is a severe mind fuck for the characters and readers.
Stay by Jane Bailey is currently available on Audible (where I bought it). However, Stay’s Edelweiss/Amazon paperback release date is February 27, 2024.
Reason #4- Women’s Interest
There is a lot to unpack here, again, without spoiling anything. I can list the issues that are woven into this thriller. In no part does this become women’s literature. It is wonderfully intertwined.
- Sexual Consent
- Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Abuse of Children
- Sex Trafficking
When and how each comes about would serve as massive spoilers, so I will leave this section with just that list.
Reason #5- Family Issues
Part of the reason Caitlyn makes some of her decisions is due to the strained relationship with her own family. She doesn’t feel that anyone in her family cares much for her anymore. With Marcus, Mimi, and their children, she has a sense of being needed and fulfilled. She finds a sense of purpose that she has been desperate for, and that blinds her to many things that are going on. The following quote serves as Jane Bailey’s perfectly plotted (non-spoiler) hints and as Caitlyn’s need to feel a part of something and wanted.
It is like success, though, and it goes to my head. I can do this. I am Maria from the Von Trapp family. The circumstances that brought me there, make me reckless. Those children who needed me, and the empheral Mimi and Marcus had a weirdly compelling effect on me. Only later would I see that this was a perfect storm.
Additionally, while Caitlyn makes a series of unfortunate mistakes due to the strained bonds with her own family, Jane Bailey makes an important point.
‘Imagine how dull life would life be if we were right, all the time?’
Bonus Reason For Audiobook Lovers
Why, Imogen Church, of course. She is, as always, a fantastic narrator. Her abilities play with precision to dark humor, suspense, and the wild joy of two children. This is not an audiobook (or book) to miss.