Angie Martin published a print edition of False Security in 2004, but she chose to rework and re-release a revised version late in 2013. It follows the complex life of twenty-six year old Rachel Thomas, a young, battered woman who fled her home only to find a healthy relationship in the arms of confirmed bachelor Mark Jacobson. Unfortunately, Rachel’s batterer is extremely powerful and has been trying to find her ever since she escaped his control. Before she tells Mark the truth about her past, it catches up with her, threatening their lives, their sanity, and their love.
Before I start dissecting False Security, I must admit that while I struggled a little with the first third of the book, I ripped through the latter two portions with fascination. The insight into Rachel’s past helped me understand her somewhat erratic behavior, plus I enjoyed seeing her as something besides the shutdown mouse from the first section. The pacing kept me glued to my Kindle, and I had to forcibly turn it off to go to sleep; however, Rachel drove me a little nuts. I had a lot of problems believing that someone as fundamentally unhealthy mentally was an ideal person to be teaching self-defense and protection to other battered women in shelters. I recognize that volunteers for any organization are hard to find, but Rachel’s unwillingness and inability to help herself while she was putting herself into triggering situations on a daily basis didn’t ring true to me. To be honest, I don’t have experience with battered women, though, so her actions might be completely normal for some individuals. Her paranoia and constant fear of discovery just didn’t seem like healthy energy to bring into groups of women who were already stressed from their experiences with their attackers. I also want to believe that battered women’s shelters vet their volunteers more thoroughly than they seemed to with Rachel, but, without firsthand experience, I can’t say one way or the other.
My other issue with Rachel was her constant need for a Prince Charming. I realize she was probably a little emotionally stunted due to her bizarre upbringing, but it’s just not healthy for a twenty-six-year-old woman to still expect a prince to rescue her. I was especially incensed at Rachel’s memory about telling her mother a story about a princess that she couldn’t end, because there was no prince to rescue the princess. Instead of telling her daughter that princesses can also rescue themselves, Rachel’s mom got upset and asked for the story to be re-written with a prince. Sadly, it primed the young woman to fall for someone incapable of loving her as a person and allow him to hurt her to soothe his temper.
If I had serious problems with one of the main characters, how did I enjoy the book? Martin used the second portion of the book to explore Rachel’s past thoroughly and helped show the person she was before abuse and control constantly kept her fearful. I also admired her strength at leaving her abuser even though she ran scared to avoid being found. Mark also added stability to Rachel’s ephemeral life, and he proved himself to be a decent man throughout the story. Even when he learned the full darkness of his girlfriend’s past, Mark refused to turn away from her, because his love meant that he accepted her for who she was, not who he wanted her to be.
Overall, False Security isn’t precisely romantic suspense, but it definitely is suspense with romantic elements. It’s not a perfect book, but if you want to see a fictional account of Stockholm Syndrome and how one woman freed herself from its grasp, this is a fabulous read. It kept me riveted and entertained despite my critiques.
4 Carefully Selected Mystery Novels out of 5