London, five months before 7/7: Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time but felt unable to tell her.
Despite some misgivings, Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.
Then London is attacked…
When I received my copy of Blind Side, on the face of it I was expecting a fairly standard suspense / thriller – right up my street, don’t get me wrong, but likely similar to a lot of books I have read before and probably will again. I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised because the book is much more complex that I expected or than it first seemed.
It opens with Georgie and her best friend Julian sharing one too many glasses of wine that see them ending up in bed together. Waking up and hungover Georgie knows it’s not the best idea she has ever had but the situation is made worse when Julian tells her that he loves her, has always loved her, and wants a relationship. This is the last thing Georgie wants. Julian, though, doesn’t and won’t take no for an answer, becoming increasingly possessive the more Georgie moves away from him.
Then Georgie meets Nikolai, a Russian in London illegally and with a dark past, one he is either hiding because he is up to no good or because he is too ashamed to tell the truth. For a long time, almost to the end, it isn’t clear what his motives are. A career-minded woman, normally Georgie wouldn’t look at someone like Nikki but she finds herself drawn to him despite the secrets he is keeping. As their relationship develops, Julian’s obsession becomes worse and he will – it seems – stop at nothing to stop them falling in love.
What sets this book apart is the setting – the story takes place in London in 2005 in the run up too and aftermath of 7/7. Tensions are high and distrust is in the air. Nikolai has links to Chechnya which are hard for Georgia to ignore. Whilst I wasn’t in London during this time, the descriptions of how people felt, their anxiety and constant looking over their shoulder and suspecting people felt very real to me.
I think the setting also helped develop the characters. Not so much Julian, but Georgia was well-rounded and relatable whilst Nikolai’s discomfort at being a stranger in a strange land came across well. It helped explain a lot of their misunderstandings, which meant plenty of twists and turns in the plot and a constant second-guessing of motives. If I had any criticisms it would be the length – always a personal thing – but for me it was a little too long. However, this is minor and didn’t stop me liking the book a lot.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author Jennie Ensor in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own. Many thanks for my copy Jennie.