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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Maternal Instinct

Narrator: Gail Shalan

ISBN: 9781666657531

Publisher: Dreamscape Media

Publication Date: 03/12/2024

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ALC)



Don't let them know what you're thinking, Althea Deming tells herself. It's your best defense. Althea didn't want her good-natured-but-thoughtless stepson Hal and manipulative daughter-in-law Grace to move in with her, relegating her to a corner of the house that was once just hers, but she doesn't have much choice. She's been powerless since her beloved husband Robert's death. According to the will, everything that was hers now belongs to Hal—and to Grace.


Grace Deming didn't want to uproot her family to care for her difficult mother-in-law, but she's determined to make the best of it for the sake of her daughter Shyla's future. Their new home is enormous; the neighborhood, prestigious. If the worst of it is that Althea dislikes her, she can cope.


After all, Althea Deming is a sweetheart. Everyone says so—her husband, the neighbors. And soon, so does Shyla, the once vibrant and happy child now a shadow of her former self. What's wrong with Grace that she can't trust her? But all her instincts are screaming at her that Althea is dangerous, and if she doesn't fight to protect her family from her malign influence, she'll live to regret it...









My Review


From the author Becky Masterman (Brigid Quinn series) comes a wicked domestic suspense - psychological thriller MATERNAL INSTINCTS —A husband's death, a widow (a step-manipulative mother-in-law), his son, wife, and daughter all in one house. Which one will survive this nightmare?

Robert Deming (was rich, powerful, handsome, and menacing) has passed away. Hal will receive the inheritance and the house.


His second wife, Althea Deming (ten years younger), has been living in a senior Onceview while they renovated. The house was left to his son, Hal Deming, and he has moved back into the house where he grew up with his wife, Grace, and 13-year-old daughter, Shyla.


According to the will, along with the house, they must take care of stepmother Althea (she has been assigned a suite in the home), so they move her back home.


However, they have no clue how opinionated, hypocritical, judgmental, and resentful Althea is (passive-aggressive). At first, Grace thought moving into this stunning, prestigious home in Delray Beach, FL, would be a great idea.


Grace and Hal have rental property. Grace is a property manager and takes care of the vacation rentals (cleaning). There are some very funny scenes.


Soon, they realize what life will be like living within these walls. From Althea's cat, Ruth— and Shayla's tortoise, Gonzo (creepy), an urn with Robert's ashes, and imaginary talks between Robert and Althea.


What happened to Joan, the daughter (Hal's sister) who ran away from home as a teen? Hal and Althea had traveled all over Europe to find her. What happened to Clare, his first wife?


The living arrangements are tension-filled (total family dysfunction), resulting from lies, deceit, manipulation, religion differences, gaslighting, and secrets. Althea thinks Grace is manipulative and dangerous. No one trusts anyone. However, Althea fools all the outsiders into thinking she is a saint. Does she have Hal fooled?


Is Althea dangerous, a killer?


Grace is at the end of her rope. Her mother, Fiona, suggests Hal and Grace get away for a weekend away from the tension. (Watch out for the pool, drinking, and meds.) They would have Althea and Shayla, and finally, Grace would give in since her mother would be there to oversee things.


However, when they are away, a tragedy occurs. Was this an accident, or is Althea a liar? Can they trust her? Is she a monster stepmother-in-law?


MATERNAL INSTINCTS is darkly comic, twisty, and wicked—madness and Mayhem and very entertaining. A woman you do not want to be living with!


I have lived in Palm Beach County for many years, only 15 minutes from Delray Beach, and was expecting to see a suitcase murder (Althea's body parts thrown in suitcases in the Intracoastal waterway- an actual murder)!! I loved all the familiar local mentions.


AUDIOBOOK: I listened to the audiobook narrated by a favorite narrator, Gail Shalan, who did a great job with the creepy Althea and all the character voices! Laugh out loud, snarky banter!


Thanks to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for an ALC for an honest review.


@JudithDCollins #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (audio)

Pub Date: Mar 12, 2024





Praise for Becky Masterman


Masterman keeps the tension high throughout this page-turner

― Publishers Weekly on We Were Killers Once


Nerve-wracking . . . The plot never loses its drive and the characters are truly intriguing

― Booklist on We Were Killers Once


A must-read for fans of domestic thrillers

― Booklist


Chilling, twist-filled

― Publishers Weekly on A Twist of the Knife


Gripping . . . Will also draw in fans of Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane

― Booklist on Fear the Darkness


[Readers] are in for a ride as thrilling as they can find outside the pages of Jeffery Deaver . . . A scorching, humane first novel

― Kirkus Reviews on Rage Against the Dying


Masterman lives up to her name in this masterly combination of compelling character and plot to keep the pages turning

― Library Journal Starred Review of Rage Against the Dying


One of the most memorable FBI agents since Clarice Starling

― Publishers Weekly Starred Review of Rage Against the Dying


Pulse-quickening . . . scorching . . . invigorating ― The New York Times on Rage Against the Dying

[An] original addition to the neo-Gothic canon . . . A fever dream of family gone disastrously wrong

― Kirkus Reviews






About the Author



Becky Masterman is the author of MATERNAL INSTINCT and the Brigid Quinn series.

While working as a forensic science acquisitions editor, Becky got to meet (and publish) some of the most famous people in that profession, and the idea for Brigid Quinn was born. The four novels in this series—RAGE AGAINST THE DYING, FEAR THE DARKNESS, A TWIST OF THE KNIFE, and WE WERE KILLERS ONCE—feature this FBI special agent who only in her retirement is finally getting married, making friends, owning Pugs, and trying to fit into the civilian world she always sought to protect for others, all while keeping her book club from finding out she can kill people with her bare hands. RAGE AGAINST THE DYING was a finalist for the Edgar Awards and the CWA Gold Dagger, as well as the Macavity, Barry, ITW and Anthony awards.


With MATERNAL INSTINCT, Becky introduces readers to Grace and Althea Deming in a domestic suspense novel that challenges everything we take for granted about families.

Becky lives in Arizona with her husband and dog Boodle. WEBSITE



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