ARC Review: No Way Out by Fern Michaels

About the Book:

Title: No Way Out

Author: Fern Michaels

Page Length: 368

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

Publisher: Kensington

Synopsis: Ellie Bowman barely remembers the incident that put her into a coma. When she awoke, filled with unease, all she knew for certain was that her boyfriend, Rick, was missing. She knew she needed to get away from her old life and recover in safety. With the proceeds of a video game she helped develop, Ellie starts over in rural Missouri, working from her cottage and trusting no one except her friend and business partner.

Yet even in this quiet small town, it’s impossible to completely isolate herself. Especially when a curious eight-year-old boy, smitten with Ellie’s pup, stops by every day to talk to him over the fence. Little by little, Ellie is being drawn back into the world through the neighbors and community around her, realizing that everyone has their own fears and obstacles to contend with.

But when Ellie hears that Rick has resurfaced, her nightmares return, and with them, small snippets of memory. No one has heard from Rick since before the incident, so why is he back now? Ellie wants to move forward with her life, but first she must find the courage to look into her past, no matter what she finds there . . . 

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My Review:

Ellie lives a sequestered and protected life. She never leaves her house and lives in constant fear. The only problem is, Ellie doesn’t know why. Suffering from amnesia, Ellie knows her life is in danger, but her memories are vague. Until she figures out the mystery behind her head injury, hospitalization, and subsequent memory loss, she won’t leave her well-protected home or see the people she loves most. Most importantly, she is hiding from her ex Rick, who took off after Ellie’s hospitalization.

Ellie spends much of her time observing the day-to-day lives of her neighbors, but she never interacts with them until a young neighborhood boy named Jackson develops a bond with Ellie’s dog. Slowly, Ellie begins to long for friends, interaction, and a sense of belonging, and she finds a friend in Jackson’s mother Colleen, who is going through trials and tribulations of her own.

However, when Rick reappears, Ellie’s nightmares and migraines return. Determined to understand his role in her injury, Ellie uses her technological skills to find answers. Can Ellie face her past and find out what happened to her? Can she trust her neighbors and friends to help her reenter the world?

The strength of this novel lies in the character development. There are many characters in the story, and they are all well-developed. You really get the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of all of the people who live on Ellie’s street as well as a few who don’t. That being said, there are a lot of characters to follow, and I didn’t feel invested in too many of them.

Much of the story focuses on Ellie’s day-to-day life, as well as the lives of her neighbors. Ellie’s neighbors are an eclectic mix and include an elderly man who lives alone, a teacher and her young son who are victims of abuse, a new family who has just moved in, and a couple who frequently travels. All of these characters influence Ellie’s life, especially Jackson and his mother Colleen.

The relationship between Ellie’s dog Buddy and Jackson is very sweet. I think seeing the daily interactions between Jackson and Buddy propels Ellie to open herself up to others again. Slowly, Ellie warms to the idea of connecting with her neighbors. However, fear of the unknown, especially in regards to her accident, limits her. Colleen and Jackson also need some support, and find it in Ellie, much to the surprise of all of their neighbors.

I did like the messages about the power of supportive neighbors, trusting yourself, embracing friendship, starting over, and reaching out to others when you need help. However, the story is slow-building and slow-paced. I felt like not much happened for much of the story. It progressed so slowly, and then everything wrapped up very quickly and a little too smoothly. Colleen’s abusive, alcoholic husband, his toxic mother, Ellie’s amnesia, and the reason she doesn’t leave her house are all resolved so easily that it felt anti-climactic. I felt like the entire book was a big build-up, but it didn’t really build up to much, and I was left disappointed.

I think people who enjoy women’s fiction and Fern Michaels might enjoy this book, but it wasn’t my favorite by the author. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The relationship between Jackson and Buddy. Very sweet.
  • The mystery behind Ellie’s past. How did she lose her memory? Why did she feel she needed to hide?

Favorite Line:

It’s easy to be nice when things are going well. Only when people are nice during hard times is it a testament to their character.

13 thoughts on “ARC Review: No Way Out by Fern Michaels

  1. I used to read everything she put out, but I got bored of the Sisterhood Series, the way the characters spoke to each other etc. I had high hopes for this one, but now, I am in no rush to read it. Perhaps she has written herself out. Nice honest review, Julie.

    1. Thanks, Carla. I liked the Sisterhood Series at the beginning, but the books started feeling very formulaic to me. Maybe her next one will be better…

  2. Oh, what a bummer. Sounds like an interesting concept but I hate when stories build up (slowly) and then the resolution happens just like that and then ‘the end’–always pretty disappointing. Great review, Julie! 😊

  3. Unresolved:
    1. What put Vivian in a good mood? Was it that she got away with being a thief?
    2. How did Rick find Ellie? He made a beeline from the casino to her house!
    3. WHY did Rick leave Ellie when she was hurt?
    4. Why did he want to find Ellie? Did he want to finish her off? Why would he want to silence her?

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