Judith D Collins
It's One of Us
By: J. T. Ellison
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Harlequin Audio ISBN: 978-0778311768
Publication Date: 02/21/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)
Everybody lies. Even the ones you think you know best of all . . .
Olivia Bender designs exquisite home interiors that satisfy the most demanding clients. But her own deepest desire can’t be fulfilled by marble counters or the perfect rug. She desperately wants to be a mother.
Fertility treatments and IVF keep failing. And just when she feels she’s at her lowest point, the police deliver shocking news to Olivia and her husband, Park.
DNA results show that the prime suspect in a murder investigation is Park’s son. Olivia is relieved, knowing this is a mistake. Despite their desire, the Benders don’t have any children. Then comes the confession. Many years ago, Park donated sperm to a clinic. He has no idea how many times it was sold—or how many children he has sired.
As the murder investigation goes deeper, more terrible truths come to light. With every revelation, Olivia must face the unthinkable. The man she married has fathered a killer. But can she hold that against him when she keeps such dark secrets of her own?
This twisting, emotionally layered thriller explores the lies we tell to keep a marriage together--or break each other apart . . .
Buy the Book
Powerhouse bestselling author J. T. Ellison (a favorite author) delivers her best yet with her latest, IT'S ONE OF US — a heart-pounding twisty psychological suspense of secrets, lies, betrayal, and DNA.
Set in Nashville, meet Olivia (interior designer) and Park Bender (ghostwriter), a handsome and successful couple with everything life could offer them except a child. Olivia does not have a problem getting pregnant; however, carrying a child full-term.
After numerous pregnancies, miscarriages, IUIs and IVD, needles, hormones, and pain, and just losing the one she was currently carrying, she is about to give up hope. This situation has strained their marriage, and all seems so clinical. Adoption is out of the question—she wants their bio-child.
Feeling down and out about the latest miscarriage (she has not even delivered the bad news to her husband yet), two homicide detectives show up at their home and bring shocking news. A woman's body is discovered in a nearby lake, and DNA evidence links to Park.
Park donated to a sperm bank in college and never told his wife. Now he finds out he has 28 children out there. And one of them seems to be a murderer!
According to Park's contract with Winterborn Life Science, they were supposed to use these samples only a few times. Unethical.
Olivia is devastated. She cannot have one child, and now she finds out her husband has all these children. What else is he hiding? How long has he known?
We hear from a teenager, Scarlett Flynn, who is involved in an online chat room for the "Halves" of the DNA related to this one man—their biological father, Park. We also hear from her mother, Darby.
The single (oncology nurse) mother, Darby Flynn, had two children (Scarlett and Peyton) through this same sperm bank but was told they had different biological fathers. Is this true?
Told from POVs:
THE WIFE (Olivia)
THE HUSBAND (Park)
THE DAUGHTER (Scarlett)
THE MOTHER (Darby)
THE BROTHER (Perry)
THE DETECTIVES (Joey and Will)
From 1999-2001 to the present, we learn about Olivia and Park's childhood/college. Olivia is also best friends with Park's sister, Lindsey, and she has a relationship with Park's twin brother, Perry. Their relationship ended when he left the country for Europe as a professional photographer. There is a lot of conflict between the twin brothers, with Olivia in the middle. Perry is back, which lends more stress to the situation.
Olivia holds her secrets from the past as well.
The investigation brings up other deaths associated with Park, and he was never charged. His roommate was arrested and went to prison. A murder of a girl from childhood and one in college. Now another woman has gone missing. So what really happened? The investigation looks into Park's past.
Whom can Olivia trust? Can she trust herself?
In a race against time, they must find the killer and solve the mystery behind the murders before he kills again. When you think the book is wrapped up with a satisfying conclusion, Ellison delivers another jaw-dropping wicked twist in the Epilogue. Well done!
IT'S ONE OF US is a perfect title with many meanings. A highly entertaining and addictive read.
Ellison is at her best in this emotionally charged thriller as she explores the intense emotions surrounding infertility, loss, marriage, and children. The Author's Note is genuinely heartfelt. Her personal experiences with infertility, which she courageously shares openly with readers, further enhance the overall reading experience. Her insights into the topics make the book come alive.
DNA: I am always fascinated with books surrounding DNA and this one was unputdownable. In addition, the intense emotions between the husband, wife, brother, and the donor's families will have readers glued to the pages of this compelling and gripping murder whodunit.
J. T. Ellison is a master storyteller, and her creative skills are fully displayed.
RECS: If you enjoy DNA stories, I highly recommend Lisa Unger's Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six and Dan Chaon's Sleepwalk. Be sure and pick up the audiobook, narrated by the fabulous Julia Whelan.
A special thank you to #MIRA and #NetGalley for a gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pub Date: Feb 21, 2023
A smart, taut, mind-blowing thriller full of heartbreak and betrayal that moves along at breakneck speed. IT’S ONE OF US is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve always been a fan, but Ellison has outdone herself with this one. Readers will be obsessed!”
—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Just The Nicest Couple
“Betrayal, obsession, and familial ties that bind create a tension-filled story with an intriguing theme. Readers will race through the pages to an end they didn’t see coming.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“J.T. Ellison has done the impossible by crafting a riveting domestic thriller full of twists and turns, but also heart and emotion. You’ll root for her heroine Olivia Bender every step of the way, as soon as a knock on the door brings shocking news that threatens her marriage and her world. You won’t be able to put this novel down!”
—Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of Loyalty
“Expertly explores the intensely complex emotions surrounding infertility, loss, and marriage. Throw in murder, a vivid cast of characters, and shocking secrets, Ellison masterfully mines the human heart in this treasure of a thriller that will keep readers turning the pages long into the night.”
—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Overnight Guest
“J.T. Ellison is one of my favorite authors. I eagerly await everything she writes. And in IT’S ONE OF US she is at the very top of her formidable game. Don’t miss this layered, emotional, and twisting thrill ride.”
— Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six
"Beautifully written and impossible to put down, master storyteller J.T. Ellison will have you spellbound with this deeply layered psychological thriller. Immersive and propulsive, IT’S ONE OF US, keeps you turning pages with an ending you’ll never see coming. I loved it!”
—Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish
"An extremely compelling thriller shot through with twists and turns, a strong emotional pulse, and heartfelt exploration of the pressures of marriage and starting a family. Impressive and gripping."
—Gilly Macmillan, internationally bestselling author of The Long Weekend
“Brings all the twists, chills, and thrills I expect from the preternaturally gifted Ellison, and it’s also an emotionally resonant read that I can’t wait to recommend to my book club. The secrets snarled in the threads of an unraveling marriage and a heroine who wholly won me over put this one on my keeper shelf—you are going to love it!”
—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of With My Little Eye
"One of the most compelling psychological suspense stories I’ve read in years."
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean
"This gripping, breathless thriller, adds an incredibly unique premise and delivers a novel that’s also a deeply poignant story about our deepest desire for love, family and happiness." —Hannah Mary McKinnon, internationally bestselling author of Never Coming Home
“It’s One of Us is an emotional and thrilling psychological journey through the shadows of the human heart. Just when you think you know what’s coming, prepare to gasp with each new revelation. Through multiple fascinating points of view, layers of secrets, lies, love and loss are revealed. I did not put this book down until the last unexpected and breathless page. Unpredictable, intense and riveting, J. T. Ellison is at her heart-stopping best."
—Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Once Upon A Wardrobe
"The perfect mix of edge-of-your-seat tension, deep emotion, and impeccably developed characters, J.T. Ellison’s latest is a masterclass in storytelling. Secrets and lies, love and loss mix flawlessly to create a novel that touches every single emotion. Fans of Lisa Jewell and Ruth Ware will flock to IT’S ONE OF US, and book clubs won’t be able to stop talking about it. Five dazzling stars."
—Kristy Woodson Harvey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Veil
"An extraordinary, unpredictable, absolutely riveting thriller and a fiercely insightful, emotional journey, this is psychological suspense at its most enthralling and intense."
—Jayne Ann Krentz
“Secrets and lies abound, relationships are tested, and the twists keep coming. Ellison outdid herself, a master storyteller. This is a must read, especially the author’s note at the end, which gutted me.”
—Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post & Amazon Charts Bestselling Author
About the Author
J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels and the EMMY® award-winning co-host of the literary TV show A WORD ON WORDS. She also writes urban fantasy under the pen name Joss Walker.
With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, and prestigious awards, been optioned for television, and has been published in 28 countries.
J.T. lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens, where she is hard at work on her next novel.
Want to learn more? Visit J.T.'s FAQ page, and check out her favorite interviews.