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Publisher's Summary

A spellbinding psychological debut novel, Swan Huntley's We Could Be Beautiful is the story of a wealthy woman who has everything - and yet can trust no one.

Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she'll never have a family of her own.

One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated and elegant and even has a personal connection - his parents and Catherine's parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer's), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth's old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads, "We cannot trust anyone...."

Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth?

Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.

©2016 Swan Huntley (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Posh Manhattanite Catherine West has everything but the family she's always wanted. But when she falls for the man of her supposed dreams, she unravels a web of deception that upends life as she knows it.... Mesmerizing.... As elegantly plotted as it is - and it is - Huntley's debut stands out not for its thrills but rather for her hawkish eye for social detail and razor-sharp wit. It is more than a classic psychological thriller: it is also a haunting - and weirdly moving - portrait of love and family among Manhattan's flailing upper crust. An intoxicating escape; as smart as it is fun." (Kirkus)
"Here's a thriller we can sink into. Deeply psychological and nuanced, Huntley's We Could Be Beautiful follows one wealthy Manhattan woman who has nearly everything. The one thing she lacks, however, is a relationship. That is, until her white knight comes along one evening. But it never quite works out that way, does it? (Not in a book like this, certainly.) Huntley's novel is a twisting, turning, secret-filled story that's worthy of your precious summer reading time." (Meredith Turits, Elle)
"We Could Be Beautiful is a sexy psychological thriller about wealth and class and the endless mysteries of romantic engagement. At the heart of Swan Huntley's sly and witty debut is the unsettling question that anyone who's ever been in love has wondered about the person they've given their heart to: Who are you?" (Dennis Lehane)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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fairly complete & satisfying

First, it's important to note that the main character quite unlikable, there were points in the story when I would say out loud things such as "get over yourself already". I am sure this is intentional but it got a bit much at times. I say the story is compete because I didn't feel left hanging at any instance. I think the story builds well and the character development was very good. The pace was good especially considering how long it is. There were a few unlikely scenarios that seemed hard to believe but it the author worked them well into the plot as a whole. The plot twists are juicy so that holds interest very well. This is better than a lot of similar books with confusingly higher ratings. Lastly, the narrator does a good job of playing the different genders.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A Stunningly Bad Book

From the lame plot, to the dreadful, unlikeable, one dimensional characters, to the shallow structure and poor dialogue, this truly amateurish attempt at a book wins a prize. Just awful.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Predictable ending.

About half way through I anticipated the ending, but kept on listening to confirm and gather all the sordid details.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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kept waiting for something to happen

this book was called a psychological thriller (which I love) and kept waiting for it to get good. no real twists or surprises at all. the main character Catherine was an awful human being. I thought I would grow to like her but entirely selfish and shallow. Very far fetched ending that a hipster from BK would tolerate her. Little teasers were thrown out throughout book that made you think they were a clue (violin lessons in private, the mysterious boss of William, and the stitching on the wall with woman on mountain are a few examples) but they never ended up being anything important. Lots of loose ends, cliche, and waste of time.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Don't waste your time

There was so much I disliked about this book, I'm not sure where to begin.

First, I would hardly categorize the book as psychological. If you're looking for a thriller, this is definitely not the book for you.

Second, the characters were not only unlikeable (which is not a deal breaker for me) but they were also unbelievable. The first half of the book was devoted to Catherine's "woe is me. I'm rich but money can't buy happiness. But I can't be happy without money either." I nearly stopped reading because of her but I thought for sure the "twist ending" would be worth it. It wasn't.

Third, the twist was predictable, boring, and unrealistic. I could say so much more, but I don't want spoilers here.

Fourth, many of the characters seemed to be thrown in for no apparent reason (other than to, perhaps, fill pages).

My suggestion - if you start reading and can't get into it, find reviews with spoilers, then move on and pick up your next read.

(So why didn't I give it a one star? I reserve one star for books that go on the DNF pile.)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Predictable and ridiculous

Pretending the main character was written to be tongue in cheek funny helped some, but I don't think it was meant to be humorous. You should be able to figure out the "twist" in the first few chapters.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Boring

Struggled to finish. Struggled to get excited about the story. Slow moving. Predictable. No action. One of the worst I've read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Shallow characters, shallow story

This book would be better rated as young adult if the incongruous sex scenes were deleted, or a marginally better written 50 Shades if more sex scenes were added. The characters were one dimensional, and in many cases totally superfluous, with a story that was cliche save one small twist that was fairly obvious. I stuck it out to the end because I didn't really need to pay attention to the story, and I quite liked the narrator. I would definitely not read another book by this author, but I would assuredly listen to this narrator again. She made it better than it was.

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Couldn't finish.

Sadly, I couldn't get through anymore than 4 chapters of this audiobook. I did not like how 'breathy' and 'seductive' the reader was through the whole thing. Maybe I'll buy the print version and try again.

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Good but frustrating

Overall the story was okay. Was hoping for a bigger twist at the end! Kind of saw it coming.

Also, I think I was supposed to be sympathizing with the main character but I couldn't. She was so spoiled and out of touch with reality, I kind of felt more sorry for William!