Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away.
But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell I’m doing here?
I don’t belong here
This book is the reason you should give first-time authors a try. Jennifer Hillier hit a home-run with this one! I requested this book to review before it was released. (Speaking of which, tomorrow is the day! The release date for Creep is July 5th.) The cover looked cool, the title is one of my favorite Radiohead songs, and it sounded interesting. It sounded like it had some substance.
I admit, the first thing I thought as I started to read Creep was that I didn’t know if I could ever sympathize with the protagonist. She doesn’t come across as flawed in any way, at first, and I thought “no way can I get into this chick”. I like my protagonists to be realistic. But then I read on and the book delved deeper.
At first you meet Sheila Tao and she’s perfect. She’s beautiful, professional, and strong. She’s successful in her teaching career at the university. She’s talented and knowledgeable in psychology, and she has a happy, healthy relationship with her fiance. But as you read on, her affair with student/TA Ethan Wolfe comes to light. Their sexual exploits shine a light on one of Sheila’s largest flaws. Although she deeply loves her fiance, she is, and has been for years, a sex addict.
Although she sees a therapist and goes to meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sheila is anything but rehabilitated.
When she finally realizes that she must stop the affair if she wants to have a long-lasting and loving relationship with her fiance, things begin to go downhill.
Ethan doesn’t take well to being dumped. He begins to make threads to Sheila, threatening to release a sex-video he made of them if she doesn’t bend to his demands. Sheila isn’t one to give in easily, though, and she stands up for her relationship and the love she has for the man she is about to marry. What follows is a level of creepiness I had not anticipated when I began to read the book.
Ethan stalks Sheila’s fiance, then kidnaps her and hides her away, meanwhile carrying on with life as if nothing were out of the ordinary. He still lives with his girlfriend, works at the college, works on his degree, and volunteers at a soup kitchen. Yet when he gets away to where he has Sheila hostage, his true self starts to break through the cracks in his personality. She believes he is a psychopath, and is desperate to keep herself alive and find a way out of where she’s being held hostage.
Morris, Sheila’s fiance, gets strange phone message where Sheila appears to call off their marriage unexpectedly. Combined with her absence from work, Morris thinks something weird is going on and hires a private investigator. From that point, it’s a race against the clock to see if Morris and the P.I. can find Sheila before something bad happens to her.
I won’t spoil Jennifer Hillier’s first book, but let me say that the end has a nice twist on it. While I was starting to figure it out partway through the book, it was not obvious, to me, and it was a nice bit of extra flavor.
This book had me coming back for more. I couldn’t wait to see what happened with Sheila and kept wondering what new, scary crap Ethan was going to pull. And of course through the entire book I was rooting for Morris the concerned fiance. Anyone willing to go through that much trouble for the woman he loved deserved to win!
This is a great first book for Hillier. I am so happy to be able to give such a positive review. I eagerly await her future books. And I’m putting it out there for posterity…if she names her next book “Karma Police”, I’m buying ten copies.
So check out Creep. It’s a worthwhile summer thriller and a great start for Jennifer Hillier’s writing career.
~ 4 out of 5 stars ~