Book Review: The Au Pair

THE AU PAIR | Emma Rous
01.08.2019 | Berkley Books
Rating: 4/5 stars


Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother, Danny, were born in the middle of summer on their family’s coastal estate, Summerbourne. Throughout the years rumors have swirled about the family and the twins. Whispers around town were that the family was never able to successfully have twins in their family because over the years one twin had always died tragically. Seraphine and Danny grew up with amidst the gossip and their own family tragedy. Their mother had thrown herself from the cliffs behind their house on the day they were born.

Now into their adult life and mourning the recent loss of their father, Seraphine can’t shake the stories she has heard all her life. Does she not belong to this family? With the discovery of a photo from the day of her birth showing her mother only holding one infant, Seraphine’s doubts continue to overtake her mind. There is no one in her immediate family to ask, so she embarks on an investigation into the past and in particular into an au pair, Laura, who just might hold the key to her life. Laura was there the day of the twin’s birth and their mother’s death, but is she willing to tell Seraphine what really happened?

Stop asking questions or lose your family.

THE AU PAIR is Emma Rous’ debut novel, but it certainly doesn’t read that way! Written between alternating narratives of Seraphine’s present day investigation and Laura’s experience in the past, Rous builds an unbelievably entertaining story of deception and family secrets. The two narratives work seamlessly in parallel with each other, as Laura’s story progresses closer to the day of the twin’s birth, Seraphine’s quest to the truth will reach its crescendo.

The entire story is delightfully addictive and the switch between narratives pushes the reader to continue reading as they can feel the answers to their questions lying just beyond in the next few pages. When Rous finally chooses to reach the grand reveal, it is nothing short of literary goodness! While I was able to guess parts of the situation, thanks to a few well placed hints along the way, I was still on the edge of my seat for the final few chapters. You can feel the impact the truth is having on not only Seraphine, but her family and everyone who was involved in their birth. The emotion is raw and real in a way that makes the characters easy to sympathize with even if you do want to shake a few of them while asking “what were you thinking?”.

Where did you really come from, my dear? In one form or another, it’s the same questions people have been asking me my whole life. What is it about me that makes such a puzzle?

There is nothing complicated to overly wordy about the story to draw your attention away from the investigation at hand. Rous’ writing is light, bingeable, and just the sort of style a reader wants when selecting a thriller. Taking this story to another level is the setting of Summerbourne and the Gothic mood this estate gives this story. Several times I found myself feeling as if the section from the past were based in a much more distant timeline than they actually were just because of the secluded feelings brought about by this family home.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, atmospheric, and exciting story, I urge you to pick up a copy of THE AU PAIR today!

Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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