Book InfoBehind the Mask by Harper Ray
Series: The Masked Duet #1
Rating: Book ratings explained
Genres: New Adult Romance, Romantic Suspense
Purchase at: Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
For five years, I've stayed away. I've hidden myself away like I was asked, abided by the threats that came my way and kept my mouth shut.
I'm done hiding.
Returning to my childhood town after so long wasn't an easy decision but I needed to move on from the past, take my life by the horns and make it my own again; scars and all. Yet, moving on isn't so easy when the man who stole your heart as a child turns up at your parents' house and with a shiny, new fiance hanging on his arm.
Between balancing the skeletons stashed away in my closet and my forbidden feelings that still lingered for Axel, I was sure my life couldn't possibly get any more overwhelming.
That was, until the threats began to pour in again and this time with a very deadly promise attached.
*This is an MF romance. There is dark content such as rape and abuse, and fertility/miscarriage scenes.
Behind The Mask – My Review
Harper Ray first released Behind The Mask in April 2020; it’s since been reworked and given a swanky new cover. I never got around to reading the original, so this review is based entirely on the revised 2022 edition of the book.
Olivia’s story is both heartbreaking and tragic, but I couldn’t relate to Axel at all. When Olivia first left him, back when they were still teenagers, Axel’s reaction probably wasn’t the most constructive course he could’ve taken. In the five years since, he’s supposedly grown up and gotten over Olivia, falling in love with a fiancé who has helped him to learn to love again. Except that when he and Olivia reconnect and things become challenging, he reverts to the angry teenager he once was. He hasn’t grown up at all and his behaviour is a stark contrast to all that Olivia has had to learn to deal with.
Reading Olivia’s flashbacks and her current struggles, I felt every moment of her pain. In romance novels, there’s a tendency to rush past the after-effects of sexual assault and gloss over the consequences of events. Ray doesn’t do that and she doesn’t hold back explaining just how damaging Olivia’s experiences have been. It’s by no means easy reading; it’s raw and honest but thoroughly agonising.
The first 3/4 of the book is slow-paced, focusing more on retelling the past than moving the story forward. It’s necessary though. Without this part of the story, the final quarter would be near-meaningless and considering so much is crammed into those final chapters it’s worth waiting to get to that point.
It’s rare that I comment on an author’s choice to spread a story across multiple books but this time I have to speak up. I can see why Ray has decided to split this story (and it splits in the perfect place) but at only 157 pages long, it feels like it could easily have been a single book written in two parts. In any event, you won’t have long to wait until book two, Behind The Lies releases on 5 February. In fact, that’s just enough time to read this book.