A special thank you Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Kimberly Belle
returns following her strong debut, The Last Breath,
landing on My Top 30 Books of 2014,
with a riveting suspense THE ONES WE TRUST,
a thought-provoking, and complex portrayal of grief, guilt, fear, tragedy, and trust, while exploring the loyalties of family. Another winner to be added to my Top 30 Books for 2015. Trust is an ongoing theme,
throughout the novel, questioning whether the truth is enough to overcome betrayal, and how deep loyalty and trust run, even in the closest of families. In addition, to figuring out who to trust, the characters will need to trust themselves, in order to overcome their fears and doubts. Abigail Wolff,
a driven former DC journalist with a firm belief that public enlightenment is the cornerstone of democracy, and that it is not just her job but her duty to see and report the truth. However, presently she is gun shy, second guessing herself, and lacking self-confidence in her journalistic abilities, after resigning a successful position three years earlier after she was blindsided when delivering a story to the world — ending in a horrible tragedy. After breaking a high profile story,
two weeks later, her career ended. When the truth is at the expense of others, what then? Devastated, shouldering the blame, guilt ridden, she gives up her position, her talent, and her passion for a regular job. Now she works for a health company as a website content curator—not a lot of risk involved with boring seniors and their issues. She is no longer uncovering misdeeds and corruption, interviewing celebrities, or tracking down terrorists. Abigail can no longer
be the one to write about secrets. "Secrets are a sneaky little seed. You can hide them, you can bury them, and you can disguise them, and cover them up. But then just when you think your secret has rotted away and decayed into nothing, it stirs back to life. She has learned her lesson. The truth always comes out eventually."However, two events
bring out the journalist instinct once again. A twelve year old Ben delivers some information questioning the story which sent her running for cover three years before. Now she feels obligated to help. While the sub-plot was not center stage in the novel, it has a strong presence in the background. (Very intriguing; could almost be another book). Next, while she is remodeling
her house, doing most of the work herself, to keep her mind occupied, prompting her to visit the local remodeling home improvement store, Handyman Market. Shocked, she runs into the Gabe, working at the store. She had interviewed Gabe’s older brother Zach (People’s sexiest Man Alive, the Hollywood golden boy) who chucked his big-screen career to die in a war that, on the day he enlisted, fifty-seven percent of Americans considered a mistake. Gabe,
not so famous, the one who had a meltdown the day of his brother’s funeral. Just as good-looking, with a rough and tough exterior; Harvard graduate, with a successful financial career, now working in a home improvement store, while he deals with the aftermath of his brother’s death. Needless to say, his personality- as far as the media was concerned is hostile at best. He is the gatekeeper for the family as the media scrambles for interviews with his mother or his brother, Nick who was only a few feet away when the three bullets tore through Zach’s skull. Nick is also left unstable with PTSD, living in a remote cabin in the woods. His family is blaming the US Army for the death of his brother and they want answers. Gabe feels if he can determine who is to blame, he can deal with it and move on. After purchasing
half the store, she begins thinking about Gabe and his family. Soon thereafter, an envelope appears on her doorstop. It holds evidence of a US army cover-up involving a soldier in Afghanistan—Zach! She is shocked and realizes this is not the transcript the media received. This one contains evidence, implicating wrong doing. She now has to decide if she wants to get involved, after she had resigned herself never to become personally involved in a high profile case, which may cause harm to the future of others, when the truth comes to light. Now, Gabe’s mom, Jean is requesting Abigail to write their story, but fear holds her back. She is afraid of making the same mistakes. Abigail is intrigued
and soon finds herself wearing her investigative hat. Gabe and his mother have a pending lawsuit against the US army and here she is with possible evidence. She is torn between not getting involved, and doing the right thing in turning it over to them. After meeting the mother, Jean
which she loved, she and Gabe become engrossed in finding the killer. To further complicate matters her own father is a retired army general. Gabe is bitter, trying to defend his family, and mistrusts Abigail’s motives, as well as her father and godfather, Chris, also with the army.When her father warns
her to leave it alone, she wonders what he is hiding. Someone starts following her, and the more evidence she stumbles upon, the fewer people it seems she can trust, especially her father. The deeper they become
involved in the mystery, she finds herself falling in love with Gabe and wants to protect him and his fragile family. Will she have to turn her back on her own family in order to protect her new love? Will she have to choose? Who is behind the killing of Gabe’s brother? Who is trying to reopen the case? How is her dad connected?Wow, a lot of depth here!
Master storyteller, Kimberly Belle grabs you from the first page to the last with an intense page-turner. A suspenseful, and emotional saga of two (really three) families, with twists and turns at every corner. In addition to the riveting and complex main plot of the solider, Gabe, his family, Abigail, and her father there is also the mysterious sub-plot ongoing in the background connecting with the present day main plot in ways you do not see coming—scandalous surprises, keeping you guessing until the end, mixed with humor. With excellent character
and crafty plot development, and superb writing, Belle creates highly emotional tensions between Abigail and Gabe. Both have been burned and afraid to trust; likable characters with some heavy burdens to shoulder, guilt, and betrayal, as well as feeling responsible. At the beginning of the book, Gabe is defensive and slowly as the book moves on he becomes accepting, and able to open his heart. Gabe is a complex character; having been betrayed, and traumatized; harder for him to trust. There is a strong sense of words,
as relates to war. How they are crafted, and how they can harm, as related to a bullet and the havoc it caused these families. Some intense dynamics between a strong father and driven daughter, when nothing is as it appears, causing misjudgments, and ongoing doubts. Sacrifices are made to protect others with good intentions. As Belle expressed,
sometimes in order to receive trust, we must be willing to take our own leap of faith and give it in return. Each character has to take a leap of faith; reacting differently. One is restricted by loyalty and secrets they are protecting. Tom, the father demands something he was not willing to give. Gabe invites Abigail into his intimate family circle. In addition to Kimberly’s
smooth writing style, I also appreciate her well written Reader’s Guide. (Wish more authors would take the time to do so.) After an author spends so much time, talent, passion, and putting forth effort into the writing of a novel-- as a reader, I enjoy lingering, reflecting; the meaning, the message, and inspiration behind the novel. In addition to enhancing the reader’s overall experience, it also helps with the writing of reviews, while providing a great guide for book clubs and further discussions.
What can I say, two winners in a row! THE ONE WE TRUST
not only tackles highly charged topics, with strong driven characters; also serves as a life lesson for us all—we all tiptoe around the word TRUST in our daily lives (involving hope, faith, or confidence, and belief in the integrity, ability or character of a person or thing). Sometimes a scary thing to rely on something we cannot see. Highly Recommend!