The Personal Assistant

Fame is fleeting, especially when being a celebrity is tied to one's social media presence. One false word, one odd posting can take a person from being famous to infamous, a pariah on myriad platforms, as Kimberly Belle (My Darling Husband; Dear Wife; The Marriage Lie) shows in her eighth engrossing novel. The Personal Assistant soars with authentic characterizations and a tightly coiled plot that offers a fresh spin on the domestic thriller.

Instagram influencer Alex Hutchinson finally amassed one million followers with her snippets about family life, including stories about her twin daughters, and frequent motivational messages, posted as Unapologetically Alex. She heavily relies on her personal assistant, known as AC, whose skills and research seem impeccable. Alex also drinks a lot, but her latest night of too much tequila may end her career. Her post, which she doesn't remember writing, slams a former Disney star now known for her bad behavior. The trolls descend, angry that Alex so nastily took after a teenager instead of offering support. Unapologetically Alex now has much to apologize for as her followers dwindle, and she and her family receive death threats. Alex needs help in forming a response in the name of damage control--but AC disappears.

Belle shapes The Personal Assistant with believable twists as Alex wonders what AC's motive was in working for her, particularly when the police can't confirm the young woman's identity. "Perception is reality," says Alex, Belle skillfully blurring the line between facts and lies. The ingenious plot has Alex questioning what she holds sacred, including her marriage and career. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer

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