Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
Date of publication: July 27th 2021
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Format Read: Unedited ARC
Received From: Publisher
A young woman’s escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception.
Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.
Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking–love, friends, stability–and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.
While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn’t read them. But it’s just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can’t look away.
Every day, twenty floors below Forest’s corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.
Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a “chance” meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she’s been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn’t simply admire Annabelle–she wants to take her place. And she’s armed with the tools to make that happen.
As I stepped off the elevator on the second floor, I found myself silently begging for a calamity.Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron
I was super excited to start reading Just One Look. The blurb did its job and hooked me. I needed to know what happened to Cassie and where her fixation was going with Forest/Annabelle.
Just One Look had an exciting plotline. Cassie is a disgraced lawyer who is now working as a temp in another law firm. Her job at the temp agency is to read through emails and see if they are relevant to the fraud suit. By accident, Cassie reads an email from a hotshot lawyer named Forest to his wife Annabelle and becomes obsessed. Her obsession takes her down a dangerous path, where she finds that not all is what it seems. That what is read in an email isn’t exactly the whole truth.
The plotline for Just One Look was medium-paced. There was a lot of time explaining the fraud case and the inner workings of firms (which I had zero interest in). That did slow down the plot at the beginning of the book. Cassie’s vague references to what happened to her months earlier also dragged down the pace for me. “The Incident” was not fully explained until halfway through the book. Until then, it was up to me to imagine what happened (and no, it was nothing like I imagined). There was also some lag in the middle of the book (right around when Dalton died). But that lag didn’t last long. The author was able to get the book back on track.
Cassie was a hot mess and she knew it. She drank too much and she obsessed over her ex-boyfriend. She also looked down on her coworkers (mainly because she was once a hotshot lawyer). I found her annoying and immature for most of the book. But, when her obsession with Forest/Annabelle started, I knew I was in for a ride. And man, what a ride it was.
The mystery angle of the book was well written. What happened and who killed Dalton took me by surprise. There were also two twists in the plotline that made my mouth drop. I called one of them but the other I didn’t.
The stalker angle of the book was very creepy to read. I understood why Cassie latched onto Forest/Annabelle. But as that storyline progressed, I was mentally telling her to stop. It didn’t surprise me when that storyline ended the way it did. It made for some great, tense reading, but no surprise on my end.
The end of the book was anti-climatic after the explosive ending to the stalker and mystery angles. I didn’t quite understand why the author chose to go the route she did, but in the end, I was happy she did it. I like seeing what happens after a character goes through what Cassie did. But it also showed that no matter how much someone tries to change, they are the same person deep down.
I would recommend Just One Look to anyone over the age of 21. There are sexual situations, mild violence, mild language, and alcohol use/abuse.