Author: Melissa James
I need to preface this review by saying there will be spoilers. I know, shock horror, I’m not a fan of spoilers. BUT, there is information I would really like to put in this review that wasn’t on the back of the book.
Beneath The Skin is a great melding of genres in that there are elements of suspense, crime and romance which weave a gripping story that I had trouble putting down but what I really loved about this story was the strong Aboriginal characters. I am so stuck at the moment trying to put into words what I’m trying to say here without sounding disrespectful or discriminatory because really there should be no reason that the race of the characters needs to be mentioned in the blurb. The Aboriginal heritage and culture of the characters form a large part of the story and I enjoyed reading their stories.
The other thing that I wanted to mention here is that when reading the Author’s Note I discovered that Melissa James will be donating a percentage of royalties from the sale of this book to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and also to the Royal Flying Doctor Service so I urge you to all go and purchase a copy, the read will be well worth it.
Elly Lavender is a dedicated doctor who is passionate about helping the rural Aboriginal communities; she worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service until helping a patient landed her with an unstable, violent stalker who happens to have an extremely wealthy grandfather in his corner. Elly left her job with the Flying Doctor Service and is on the run when her cover is blown she heads to the small town of Macks Lake to where her childhood friend, and now police officer, Adam Jepson lives.
Beneath The Skin touches on many Aboriginal issues; speaking of the stolen generation, the loss of family, the connection of all Indigenous people, the insular nature of the outback communities and the medical hardships faced by those same outback communities.
Elly is being stalked by a man with serious issues, a man determined to get what he wants and do anything it takes to get it. The story is told in the third person with short first person chapters following the moves of the stalker. Elly heads to Macks Lake for help but it soon turns out that there’s more to the history she shares with Adam Jepson.
Beneath The Skin takes us back to Elly’s childhood and the more we learn the easier it is to see how she has become such a respected doctor and why she is so dedicated to her patients.
Adam Jepson has taken a huge step back in his career after the deaths of his wife and baby son to raise his daughter in the small town of Macks Lake. Three years later he is still mired in guilt and living a half-life.
I loved the way some elements of the story played out. The suspense held me captivated because when anonymous harassment in Macks Lake begins and rapidly escalates, we know it can’t be the stalker yet and all of the circumstantial evidence points in an extremely unlikely direction. The only thing that tops it is finding out the truth of it.
Many elements come together in an action packed story of love, family, mental health, abuse, loss and grief. A romantic suspense that offers thought provoking clues to follow in the stalking storyline as well as steam and sexual tension in the romance stakes.
Beneath the Skin is a book that I honestly can not think of anything bad to say about. I loved the story, the characters and the settings…. actually I didn’t love all of the characters, but I wasn’t supposed to. The primary characters were all quite intimately drawn and getting to know them throughout the story was quite eye opening.
Melissa James is definitely an author I will be keeping an eye out for.
Beneath the Skin is Book #31 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.
Melissa James can be contacted on Facebook.