Review: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Reviewed by Victoria

Let’s start with THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE. Jane Doe is a fantastic book, with one of the most interesting, motivated protagonists I’ve ever read, but it is NOT A ROMANCE. You’ve been warned.

This book is not my usual thing. It’s not a romance, and it’s a first-person narrative. Any other author, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second glance. But Stone, aka Victoria Dahl, writes some excellent romances. Her previous work, combined with my dreaded Book Slump, prompted me to give Jane Doe a try. And I loved it. This book is about revenge. Deliberate, meticulous, cold-hearted revenge.

The book opens with Jane subtly gaining the attention of a manager at her new job. Jane knows exactly who he is: charming at work, controlling in a relationship. The job is beneath her education and experience level, and Jane is there for one thing: to ruin Stephen’s life.

She’s ready to burn his life to the ground, hiding her simmering rage behind the facade of a slightly shy woman who lacks confidence. I was immediately drawn into the story, wondering what a middle manager in Minneapolis has done to end up as Jane’s target. Is she an assassin? Did an ex-girlfriend hire her to make his life miserable? As Jane slowly ingratiates herself into Stephen’s life, his emotionally abusive personality comes to the surface. Jane plays the wounded girlfriend, spinning her web around Stephen until she’s met his pastor father and stepmother, and begins attending his church.

Jane is very upfront with the reader about her desire to destroy Stephen, even willing to kill him, and when she gets an unexpected opportunity to finally get rid of him, I was rooting her on. This guy Has. It. Coming.

Jane’s not crazy, or an assassin. She’s a self-described sociopath, stating, “It’s not that I don’t have feelings. I have some emotions. I do. It’s just that I can usually choose when to feel them. More important, I choose when not to.” Jane feels plenty of grief and sorrow, and channels it into rage.

As Stephen’s personality is uncovered through their relationship, Jane’s full personality is revealed through the side characters. She has immature, thoughtless parents. She doesn’t see them, but sends money when they ask for it. Her friend Meg’s mom Cheryl, who continues to reach out after Meg’s death, leaves Jane’s baffled.

Meg is the reason that Jane is in Minneapolis, but we slowly find out what happened to Meg, and what Stephen’s role was in her death. Jane experiences waves of grief and anger, sorrow and frustration. As the details are revealed on Meg’s death, Jane’s layers are also revealed.
I know I said that this is NOT A ROMANCE, however…there actually is a romance in it. In the middle of luring Stephen in, Jane runs into an old flame from college. She hasn’t thought much about him since they broke up, but he’s thought a lot about her. Watching her navigate a genuine relationship alongside her fake relationship with Stephen is very interesting. Her pivots between “real” and “fake” Jane are fascinating to watch. Jane would make a great spy.

I don’t want to give anything else away. If you’ve ever been with a partner who made you feel terrible about yourself, you will recognize patterns in Stephen’s behavior. If you’re tired of patriarchy, hypocritical religious figures, or you’re just in a slump, give this book a try. It drop-kicked me out of my Book Slump, and I immediately devoured three more new-to-me authors.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

Jane Doe
by Victoria Helen Stone
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

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