Monday, May 12, 2014

Love in Suspense: The Mystery of 'The Forgotten Girl'

by Vilma Gonzales)

(Photo11: Jessica Sorensen)

USA TODAY and New York Times bestselling author Jessica Sorensen is a prolific writer. With 24 books published to date, she's written successful Young Adult and New Adult paranormal and contemporary romances. She's made us fall in love with her characters. Made us hope for their redemption. Their transformation. She's made us cry at what they've had to endure. She's evoked a wide range of feelings with her unique storytelling, and as a result, garnered a strong and loyal following of readers. This time, however, Sorensen sets out to thrill. To keep us riveted in a compelling mystery that is ever-changing.

The Forgotten Girl is the kind of story that consumes. I was obsessed with figuring out the story's puzzle. What was real and what was not. There is an ominous feeling throughout as tension builds and recedes, as our senses are manipulated with flashes of murder and blood, of violence and entrapment, of a past forgotten. I loved that my mind tried to fill in the blanks, my own imagination darkening as I theorized what happened.

So what is this suspenseful book about? It's a dark psychological thriller about a girl named Maddie Asherford. At 15, Maddie wakes up bloodied and broken on the road. Alone. Clutching a mysterious object in her hand. Forgotten was her name. Forgotten was her past. Forgotten were the culprits behind her tormented life.

"I don't know how I got here, where here is, or who I am... I'm scared... alive... scared... dead. I can't tell which one."

Her life had truly been torturous. She'd had a horrific childhood, followed by another set of brutal events that led to her lying unconscious on the road. At her present age of 21 years old, she's tried to get better. Tried to heal. But she feels as if there are two sides to herself. One side works to get better, stronger. The other is bad, dark, violent. She's done her best to manage this duality until something changes and her past and present collide more vehemently, forcing the two sides of herself to war over control. And when blackouts begin to occur and she continues to wake up near murder scenes, Maddie must reconcile her past to determine if there's blood on her hands. To see if she's a killer.

"I'm hiding behind a mask. I'm hiding behind my amnesia. I'm hiding."

Maddie's life unravels. There are so many secrets. Someone had hurt her in the past. Was someone after her still? Framing her? Flashes of violence (memories?) haunt her and she can't make sense of anything. Her thoughts are so broken, fragments holding memories that don't quite fit together. She's not sure what's real and not. Her mom knows something, but is determined to protect her. From whom? Herself? The answers felt interminably out of reach. Every character seemed like a possible culprit and Maddie is lost inside her head, consumed by fear and paralyzed by a series of what ifs.

"She became lost. Hiding in the darkness of her own fears. Letting the real girl be forgotten. The one that changed her. The one that trapped her. The one that created her."

The end of this story is beautifully blindsiding. If you're a fan of tangled webs and hidden truths, of thrilling mysteries and complex characters, you won't want to miss this page-turner of a novel.

Read the prologue and first chapter on Jessica Sorensen's website.

Upon finishing, I had a million questions for the author, and below are some of the ones that won't spoil the story for you!

Vilma: This seems like a very different kind of novel for you, what inspired you to write this story?

Jessica: Honestly, I just wanted to do something different. I've been so focused on writing romance for the last year and a half and the idea of doing a thriller, where I get to focus more on the plot of the story, was something I wanted to try. And I love mysteries, so weaving together this story was a lot of fun.

Vilma: As I read, I conjured a dozen theories about what could be happening. Was that your intention? What did you want the reader experience to be like?

Jessica: That was my intention! While I was writing it, I didn't want the answer to be straightforward, so when big events were revealed, there would be a shock factor for the reader.

Vilma: I know that you typically don't plot your novels, but did you have to do some outlining with a story so steeped in mystery? What was your writing experience like with this book?

Jessica: Writing this one was way different than what I'm used. I had a vague outline in the beginning and I did a lot more revising, erasing, and changing to get all the twists and turns in there. It was definitely a different experience, much more challenging, but I loved putting everything together.

Vilma: Are you a fan of suspense novels or movies? If so, what are some of your favorites?

Jessica: I just started getting into suspense novels so I haven't read too many, but I've watched a ton of movies that I've enjoyed, like Shutter Island, Prisoners, Along Came a Spider, Seven. I'm also a hard-core fan of the television series The Killing. The ending of every episode blows my mind every time!

Vilma: You always have lots coming up and as mentioned in the article, you write novels across many genres. Do you have a favorite genre to write?

Jessica: I would have to say that my favorites are the more darker contemporaries, like Breaking Nova, and romance suspense like Sins & Secrets.

Vilma: Your next novel, Sins and Secrets, is out June 27. This is an adult contemporary romance, but it seems to pack a lot of suspense and mystery, too. What can you tell us about this story?

Jessica: This one definitely has more suspense in it than my other romances. It's kind of got a mobster feel to it. The main character, Lola, has ran away from her mobster life after she was forced to kill someone to save her dad and there was a hit put out on her. In the start of the book, she's been living in hiding for the last two years and is doing OK with it, until Layton shows up, a guy who used to be her friend but who ended up working for her family's enemy. And she thinks he's there to kill her. That's all I really want to give away, other than the book is crammed with suspense, sexiness, and a bit of mystery.

You can find out more about Jessica and her books at


Entice by Rachel Van Dyken

If you're a fan of suspense … if you love books that ooze sexiness … if you love the chilling rush of Mafia-infused madness, then you'll love the Eagle Elite series as much as I have. This third installment focuses on Chase Winters and his current predicament with Mil De Lange, new Mafia boss to the unraveling De Lange family. When Mil asks Chase for a life-altering favor, they embark on adventure that is teeming with danger.

You've never read a New Adult Mafia story like this before ... loyalties will be tested, lovers reunited, and friendships obliterated. Welcome to the Family. Blood in — No out.

This series should be read in order: Elite, Elect, Entice (release date is May 13), Elicit (fall).

Vilma Gonzalez is a blogger, reader, marketer, wife and mom. She has an insatiable appetite for happily ever afters and a deep love of the written word. She is also determined to keep the promise she made to her 16-year-old self to finish writing a book before she dies. You can find more about her and read full reviews at Vilma's Book Blog. Please e-mail Vilma at about content related to this column. Due to the volume of mail, e-mails may not be answered personally, but all will be read.