My enormous thanks to Rebecca Collins at Hobeck for sending me a copy of Swindled by S.E. Shepherd in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share that review today. Swindled is the first in a brand new thriller series from S.E. Shepherd.
You may know the author as Sue Shepherd too. In that incarnation, you’ll find Sue here on Linda’s Book Bag chatting with me about Can’t Get You Out of My Head and here when I had a spotlight on Sue to celebrate Love Them and Leave Them.
Published by Hobeck today, 7th September 2021, Swindled is available for purchase here.
Beautiful, but a little spoilt, Lottie Thorogood leads a charmed life. Returning home from horse riding one day, she finds a stranger, drinking tea in the family drawing room – a stranger who will change her life, forever.
After a bad decision cut short her police career, Hannah Sandlin is desperate to make her mark as a private investigator. She knows she has the skills, but why won’t anyone take her seriously? She’s about to become embroiled in a mystery that will finally put those skills to the test and prove her doubters wrong. It will also bring her a friend for life.
Vincent Rocchino has spent his life charming the ladies, fleecing them and fleeing when things turn sour. How long can he keep running before his past catches up with him?
My Review of Swindled
Lottie, Hannah and Vincent have more in common than they might think.
Swindled was absolutely NOT what I was expecting. I thought I’d be in for a good read but I wasn’t aware that S.E. Shepherd would blend her storytelling with such naturalistic dialogue, often including surprising expletives, with considerable humour and more than a touch of naughtiness too. All these aspects add up in Swindled to a book greater than the sum of its parts in a hugely entertaining read. In fact, as well as being a fast paced thriller, I found Swindled ever so slightly bonkers and that is no bad thing at all!
It took me awhile to settle in to the different characters and timescales at the start but I loved the way the threads belonging to Hannah, Lottie and Vincent gradually drew together. There were several moments when I was completely wrong-footed by S.E. Shepherd so that the title Swindled seems to reflect the treatment of the reader as well as the behaviour of Vincent!
Speaking of Vincent, I felt I should have loathed him from the very beginning, but somehow he retained my sympathy. Certainly he’s a lying, cheating, manipulative individual, but equally, he has a vulnerability, a need to be accepted and loved, and a personality that attracts trouble not always of his making that give him an appealing depth. In fact, it was Lottie I liked least of the three main characters but again, S.E. Shepherd managed to manipulate me into caring about her and liking her by the end of the narrative.
Entertaining story and great characters aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the themes explored in Swindled. Identity of several kinds is at the heart of the story, but sexism, manipulation in many forms, ambition, wealth and poverty, family and friendship and so on all add to the mix so that there is much to uncover whilst reading.
I think Swindled is an entertaining exploration of the concept that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger – unless it kills you, but you’ll need to read the book to find out why!
About Sue Shepherd
Born in Harrow, Sue went on to spend several years living in Hertfordshire before selling up and taking a leap of faith across The Solent. She now resides on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle.
Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years.
Happiest when hunched over her laptop with a cup of tea on the go, Sue loves to create stories with plenty of heart and laughs, but she makes sure to include a bit of naughtiness too. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!