cover image The Spare Room

The Spare Room

Andrea Bartz. Ballantine, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-984820-49-5

Bartz (We Were Never Here) delivers a cleverly plotted page-turner that doesn’t quite stick the landing. After unemployed marketer Kelly Doyle gets dumped by her fiancé, she leaps at an invitation from Sabrina Lamont, her high school pal turned successful romance novelist, to wait out the pandemic lockdown with her and her husband, Nathan, a high-level Department of Defense analyst, in the couple’s secluded Virginia mansion. As soon as Kelly passes through the luxurious property’s gates, not even the adjacent cemetery can keep her from feeling like she’s stepped into one of Sabrina’s steamy novels. That sensation only intensifies as Kelly finds herself unexpectedly attracted to both of her hosts and swept into a throuple. Kelly feels desired, daring, and empowered—until she discovers she isn’t the pair’s first lover and that her predecessor has vanished. As an increasingly anxious Kelly attempts to learn more about the last woman’s disappearance without jeopardizing her relationship with the Lamonts, Bartz expertly whips up a dizzying kaleidoscope of suspicion (including two truly game-changing twists) before serving up a regrettably far-fetched denouement. The only misstep comes at the end, and it’s one that will unfortunately leave readers disappointed. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, CAA. (June)