Young divorce lawyer Francine Day has methodically built her career doing everything right. She’s one big case away from securing her place among London’s legal elite. But when she meets her new client, Martin Joy, the natural caution that has protected Francine and fueled her rise melts away. Powerless to fight the irresistible magnetism between them, client and counsel tumble into a blistering affair that breaks every rule.
Though Martin insists his marriage is over, Francine doesn’t believe him. Certain details he’s told her don’t quite add up. Consumed with a passion she cannot control and increasingly obsessed with Martin’s relationship with his wife, Donna, Francine follows the woman one night . . . and discovers her having dinner with her supposedly soon-to-be-ex-husband.
The next morning, Francine awakens in her neighbor’s apartment with blood on her clothes and no recollection of what transpired after she spied Donna and Martin together. Then Francine receives more devastating news: Martin’s wife has vanished. That dinner was the last place anyone has seen Donna Joy alive.
Suddenly, Francine finds herself caught in a dangerous labyrinth of deception, lies, and secrets, in which one false move could lead to her undoing. What happened that night and why can’t Francine remember? Where is Donna and who is responsible for her disappearance? The further Francine goes to find answers, the tighter the net seems to draw—around her lover, herself, and the life she’s meticulously built.
The premise for J.L Butler’s Mine sounded really intriguing, as did the idea of a barrister heroine, so I jumped right in and was immediately pulled into the story. I don’t read many mysteries (I tend to prefer romantic suspense), but this one grabbed me right away, and even though there were a few things about the plotline and central character that made me scratch my head, I was pretty much gripped from beginning to end.
Francine Day, a hard-working barrister in her late thirties is a bit of a misfit in her profession. She comes from a working class family, she doesn’t have a public school education and she’s from Lancashire, her voice still carrying a bit of the northern twang she grew up with. She works mostly in the field of family law, and has made herself a reputation as one of the best divorce lawyers around, specialising in the marital splits of the very wealthy. It’s this reputation that brings her a client by the name of Martin Joy, an obscenely wealthy investment banker whose wife is out to take him to the cleaners for everything she can get. Donna Joy wants half of everything Martin owns, including half his future earnings – and he wants to protect the company he and his friend, Alex Cole, have built from nothing.
The initial meeting over and arrangements made for the preliminary hearing, Fran is surprised to bump into Martin a few days later, in Selfridges of all places, and he invites her to have a drink with him. One drink leads to another and eventually leads to their ending up in bed at Martin’s East London apartment and to a passionate affair that is completely outside Fran’s normal experience of sex and relationships.
This should perhaps ring the alarm bells. She’s built a career on being upfront and doing what’s right – possibly as a reaction against her rather ‘wild-child’, rebellious adolescence – and she’s being encouraged by her colleagues and superiors to apply to take silk (which means she will become a QC, Queen’s Counsel, which is a prestigious appointment in her profession), and needs to keep her nose clean. But she’s never felt this way about anyone and the thrill of being with Martin pushes all thoughts of her career into the back seat. Eventually, however, the stress of keeping their relationship a secret begins to take its toll, and Fran finds herself gradually drowning amid the lies, her heavy workload and the hints of resurgence of the bi-polar disorder that she normally keeps under control through medication. Even as she recognises the absurdity of her actions, when she suspects Martin is lying to her, and that perhaps his marriage is not as dead as he claims it is, Fran follows him one night and sees him meeting Donna, for a meal and then continues to watch them as they return to her house late that night.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.