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The latest novel from Sara Shepard, author of Reputation and the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series. When the principal of an elite California preschool is attacked, three moms—who feel like outsiders among the school’s manicured and ultra-wealthy community—must work together to uncover what she’s hiding, figure out who’s trying to frame them, and mak The latest novel from Sara Shepard, author of Reputation and the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series. When the principal of an elite California preschool is attacked, three moms—who feel like outsiders among the school’s manicured and ultra-wealthy community—must work together to uncover what she’s hiding, figure out who’s trying to frame them, and make sure their own secrets stay hidden. Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie all see themselves as good, loving moms who are trying their best, but they each arrive at the Silver Swans preschool Welcome Breakfast with something to hide. Andrea is running away from a past on the East Coast, which she cannot afford for the other parents to discover. Lauren is recovering from a postpartum condition her husband has warned her not to disclose. And Ronnie is hiding herself and her daughter from the one man who could at any moment appear in their lives and ruin everything she holds dear. They already feel like impostors among the school’s community of polished parents. But then notes appear in their children’s backpacks after the first day at school. Notes that indicate that someone knows their deepest, darkest secrets and needs them gone. Does someone not want them in the community? Or is it something more menacing—does someone know everything? When the principal of the school is the victim of an almost-fatal attack, it quickly becomes clear that the Silver Swans community is not as flawless as the brochures and website would have you believe. The three moms must band together to uncover the school’s many secrets before the other suspicious parents and town police close in and use their outsider status to blame them . . . and before they lose what they have worked so hard for.


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The latest novel from Sara Shepard, author of Reputation and the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series. When the principal of an elite California preschool is attacked, three moms—who feel like outsiders among the school’s manicured and ultra-wealthy community—must work together to uncover what she’s hiding, figure out who’s trying to frame them, and mak The latest novel from Sara Shepard, author of Reputation and the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series. When the principal of an elite California preschool is attacked, three moms—who feel like outsiders among the school’s manicured and ultra-wealthy community—must work together to uncover what she’s hiding, figure out who’s trying to frame them, and make sure their own secrets stay hidden. Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie all see themselves as good, loving moms who are trying their best, but they each arrive at the Silver Swans preschool Welcome Breakfast with something to hide. Andrea is running away from a past on the East Coast, which she cannot afford for the other parents to discover. Lauren is recovering from a postpartum condition her husband has warned her not to disclose. And Ronnie is hiding herself and her daughter from the one man who could at any moment appear in their lives and ruin everything she holds dear. They already feel like impostors among the school’s community of polished parents. But then notes appear in their children’s backpacks after the first day at school. Notes that indicate that someone knows their deepest, darkest secrets and needs them gone. Does someone not want them in the community? Or is it something more menacing—does someone know everything? When the principal of the school is the victim of an almost-fatal attack, it quickly becomes clear that the Silver Swans community is not as flawless as the brochures and website would have you believe. The three moms must band together to uncover the school’s many secrets before the other suspicious parents and town police close in and use their outsider status to blame them . . . and before they lose what they have worked so hard for.

30 review for Safe In My Arms

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    An adult thriller- mystery -suspense from the author of Pretty Little Liars! The blurb sounds intriguing! Three misfit women’s accomplice to fight against hostility coming from school circle. Imagine about a ultra elite pre- school in California: all those manicured, wealthy, privileged community enlist their children to get better education even though the economic crisis damaged most of the families’ financial status ( they are volunteered to pay annual 20K for preschoolers! And those people An adult thriller- mystery -suspense from the author of Pretty Little Liars! The blurb sounds intriguing! Three misfit women’s accomplice to fight against hostility coming from school circle. Imagine about a ultra elite pre- school in California: all those manicured, wealthy, privileged community enlist their children to get better education even though the economic crisis damaged most of the families’ financial status ( they are volunteered to pay annual 20K for preschoolers! And those people insist they are sane people! ) But newcomer mothers don’t fit in the standards of this elite Silver Swan community. They truly make them feel like impostors acting like decent mothers lurking around the school yard. The school principal Piper already seems like displeased about their existence at their Welcom Breakfast meeting. Those three women in the beginning of their 30s are coming from different backgrounds. Lauren is coding whizz. She already coded for two games but the economic crisis ruined her business plan. Now she’s stay at home mom, suffering from postpartum anger, estranging with her workaholic screenwriter husband, raising her baby mostly alone. Andrea is my favorite character raising her 4 years old kid by herself. Her ultra rich father disowned her because she rejected to live in a man’s body when she truly feels like a woman and not accepted to live in a lie! But now she tries too hard to hide her true identity. She needs to protect herself and child from vultures who are so bloodthirsty to write smearing news about their family. Ronnie has also dark past, running from a dangerous man, trying to protect her child, living with Lane who is also teacher at Silver Swan help for her fresh start. He already proposed her but Ronnie’s not only hiding her real name and her dark past about her family, she’s also hiding her real occupation. She’s a topless maid! She is not ashamed of her job! She does what she needs to do to give Esme proper future and she has trust issues, even though Lane seems like the right guy who can protect her. Our both three narrators have dark secrets they wish to bury forever! But somebody already checked their closets to bring out those skeletons hid there! Somebody put letters to their children’s backpacks. Somebody doesn’t want them to be around their school community! And then dear precious school principle gets attacked. Three women become suspects! The investigation about the attack brings out more dirty secrets and the lies they were told for a long time! I have to say the first half of the book was more interesting. After the attack, the story gets wavered and loses its direction. The twist is a little foreseeable. I loved Andrea and Ronnie more but Lauren was dislikable from the beginning. It was still mysterious, intriguing, easy one sit reading even though pace was slowed down at the second half and got a little repetitive! But the storyline and concept was interesting! I liked the transgender representation and back stories of misfits! I’m rounding 3.5 stars to 4 juicy, gossipy, elite mothers stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group/ Dutton for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly McCreight

    A smart and insightful page-turner, SAFE IN MY ARMS is a twisty mystery filled with keen observations about the impossibly high standards of motherhood and the critical importance of finding friends willing to accept you as the forgivably flawed person and parent you really are.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: July 27, 2021 Sara Shepard, of “Pretty Little Liars” fame, takes us to an elite prep school in “Safe in My Arms”, where every parent has a secret, and one of them will kill to protect it. Andrea, Ronnie and Lauren all have children enrolled in the elite Silver Swans preschool, run by the sophisticated and seemingly perfect Piper. The Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: July 27, 2021 Sara Shepard, of “Pretty Little Liars” fame, takes us to an elite prep school in “Safe in My Arms”, where every parent has a secret, and one of them will kill to protect it. Andrea, Ronnie and Lauren all have children enrolled in the elite Silver Swans preschool, run by the sophisticated and seemingly perfect Piper. The three women are just lucky that their children will benefit from the prestigious education, and they form a quick friendship, bonding over the struggles of parenting. When Piper is attacked in her office, the entire Silver Swans community is torn apart, pointing fingers and placing blame at other parents. Andrea, Ronnie and Lauren instantly become the main focus but who is telling the truth? Initially, I thought this book was going to be one of those daytime soap opera novels about rich, elite parents who try and tear each down in order to have their infant accepted into a private preschool they won’t remember or benefit from. I am so glad it didn’t turn out like that. Andrea, Ronnie and Lauren were likable and honest, and when their friendship was genuine. I loved all of them, and was really grateful to see that they did not have the self-aggrandizing, competition-fueled female friendships that are so commonly portrayed in these types of novels. As the novel proceeds, it is quickly uncovered that each and every character has a deep secret, making any of them potential suspects. The twists and turns in this novel kept me guessing at every page, and the ending completely surpassed any of my expectations. When the truth was revealed, not only was it plausible but it was surprising and unexpected, which is unusual for a book of this type. Shepard has a sure-fire knack for depicting the tight bonds of female friendships, and when she uses such diverse and honest characters as she did in “Safe in My Arms”, it makes the plot that much more enjoyable. “Safe in My Arms” is an enjoyable, sucker-punch of a read that will resonate not only with mothers, but with any female reader.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Belle

    Sara Shepherd returns to the domestic suspense scene with a deep dive into the lives of three mothers at a fancy private preschool, all of them harboring dark secrets. Taut, smart and twisted, Safe in my Arms is everything I love in a suspense novel, a whip-smart tale of just how far a mother will go to protect her child. All the stars!

  5. 4 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    I love Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series and actually remember reading them when I was younger, so I was really excited to try one of her adult novels. Safe In My Arms has some drama but is so much more than that, and I enjoyed every single second of it! I liked all of the different viewpoints even if it did take me a bit to remember who everyone was, and I am not a mother myself, but I always love a good school setting. And what school setting wouldn't be complete without parents full o I love Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series and actually remember reading them when I was younger, so I was really excited to try one of her adult novels. Safe In My Arms has some drama but is so much more than that, and I enjoyed every single second of it! I liked all of the different viewpoints even if it did take me a bit to remember who everyone was, and I am not a mother myself, but I always love a good school setting. And what school setting wouldn't be complete without parents full of secrets? I loved the group of moms that are Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie, and I thought they were very relatable and real characters even if you aren't a mom yourself. The notes they start finding in their kid's backpacks are exceptionally creepy, and while the big reveal for those didn't end up surprising me too much as the book went on, there is a lot that did. I basically just loved throwing myself into this world and these characters and I had a lot of fun reading it. Shepard's writing was very engaging and conversational, and I also loved the humor she threw in. I really enjoyed the audiobook for Safe In My Arms which is narrated by Eileen Stevens. In the case of this book, I think more narrators would have been really helpful, but I appreciated Stevens' narration just the same. She was a pleasure to listen to and given how many characters she had to voice; I think she pulled them off quite nicely. There are definitely a few surprises throughout the book, and just when I thought they were over, I got some more. I love when twists come out of left field, but I also REALLY love when they are plausible while surprising, and that is exactly what you get here. I also enjoyed how the ending wrapped up, and while it wasn't anything crazy it was satisfying all the same. I really want to do a reread of Shepard's PLL series, but in the meantime, I am already looking forward to reading more of her standalones! I received a complimentary digital copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    I have a special spot in my heart for Sara Shepard. I love Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. So I was pretty excited when I spotted this new one. And I loved it. I like that you have Lauren, Ronnie and Andrea's each separate POV. It helped give us the whole story and give more clues. I loved each girl separately for what they brought to the story and their own struggles. I love how they found each other (spiking the drinks was hilarious!) and I love how they found a friendship in the midst I have a special spot in my heart for Sara Shepard. I love Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. So I was pretty excited when I spotted this new one. And I loved it. I like that you have Lauren, Ronnie and Andrea's each separate POV. It helped give us the whole story and give more clues. I loved each girl separately for what they brought to the story and their own struggles. I love how they found each other (spiking the drinks was hilarious!) and I love how they found a friendship in the midst of all the craziness. I thought the bad guy was a little obvious but I didn't mind going through the story. I did find a lot of the ending a surprise though - and the twists I didn't see coming. It's almost set up like there could be more story here and, if there was, I would definitely read it. I love these three!! A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    3.5/5 I’ve been a big fan of the author since her PLL books and have enjoyed a couple of her adult thrillers as well but her books always seem to be missing a little something for me in the end. It’s kind of weird because while I’m reading I’m usually engrossed and entertained but when I finish I often find myself thinking, that’s it? So I’m not sure but I do know that I always end up finishing her books, I just find them to be a little lacking in some way. I’m a sucker for any book that explores 3.5/5 I’ve been a big fan of the author since her PLL books and have enjoyed a couple of her adult thrillers as well but her books always seem to be missing a little something for me in the end. It’s kind of weird because while I’m reading I’m usually engrossed and entertained but when I finish I often find myself thinking, that’s it? So I’m not sure but I do know that I always end up finishing her books, I just find them to be a little lacking in some way. I’m a sucker for any book that explores motherhood, even more so if the book is a thriller so I was hooked from the start here. The setting of a ritzy private preschool also appealed to me and then three women with secrets is basically my catnip. Like I said earlier, I’m always reeled in enough to read SS books quickly, but I think what was missing for me here was a more mature quality to make this feel like an adult thriller. I think where this author shines is her YA books so maybe next time I read her I just need to remember to go into it pretending it’s YA and I’ll like it more? Who knows honestly, I’m sure I’ll read her books in the future she does come up with some interesting premises. I think if you don’t mind a juvenile feeling “thriller” this may work for you, because her style is compelling for sure and while some parts of this were easy for me to predict I definitely didn’t see everything coming either. Clearly I have mixed feelings.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darinda

    Safe in My Arms is a new psychological thriller by Sara Shepard. Three women with secrets have children enrolled at an elite preschool. Someone claims to know these mother’s secrets, and expose them. The women are all new to the small community, and struggling to find their places. Now, it seems someone doesn’t want them there at all. Safe in My Arms is told using multiple points of view. Each woman has a distinct voice, and her own challenges to overcome. However, they were not the most sympathe Safe in My Arms is a new psychological thriller by Sara Shepard. Three women with secrets have children enrolled at an elite preschool. Someone claims to know these mother’s secrets, and expose them. The women are all new to the small community, and struggling to find their places. Now, it seems someone doesn’t want them there at all. Safe in My Arms is told using multiple points of view. Each woman has a distinct voice, and her own challenges to overcome. However, they were not the most sympathetic of characters. The deceit and drama in Safe in My Arms makes it an enjoyable beach read. Good for fans of domestic thrillers and women’s fiction. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    Dnf, barely lasted an hour, the topless maids twirling is not my idea of a good book...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Clairelouloves

    It definitely had all the ingredients for a fun, entertaining suspense read. However, there just seemed to be too many characters and none felt strong enough for me to become invested in. Thanks Netgalley for the arc.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Feinen

    Piper left a toxic relationship, moved to Raisin Beach with her young son. Struggling, she stumbled upon a nursery school in need of a Director - and she never looked back. Until her attempted murder. It's one of those painful school events - a brunch to start the new school year at the swanky, super expensive Silver Swans Nursery. Moms already established in cliques. Andrea takes out some Bailey's for her coffee. Ronnie and Lauren drift over - also looking lost and alone. Each has her own secre Piper left a toxic relationship, moved to Raisin Beach with her young son. Struggling, she stumbled upon a nursery school in need of a Director - and she never looked back. Until her attempted murder. It's one of those painful school events - a brunch to start the new school year at the swanky, super expensive Silver Swans Nursery. Moms already established in cliques. Andrea takes out some Bailey's for her coffee. Ronnie and Lauren drift over - also looking lost and alone. Each has her own secrets. Lauren struggles with post partum rage; Andrea is transitioning; Ronnie escaped Jarrod. These women - each have something to offer; we can all sympathize, seeing ourselves in their issues and complex lives. This plot is well written, great suspense and the ending was well done.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer N

    This was a great thriller. 3 moms are new to a prestigious pre-school. They are all hiding secrets but bond over being social outcasts. All receive notes basically telling them that they are not wanted. They try to figure out why and if someone knows their secrets. I figured out who was responsible but not until about 3/4 through.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

    Safe In My Arms is written in the third person narrative with alternating chapters of 4 different women: Lauren, Ronnie, Andrea, and Piper. Set in a fictional affluent California beachside town called Raisin Beach, the story revolves around an elite preschool called Silver Swans and the events following a violent attack against the school's director. Lauren, Ronnie, and Andrea are all new to the school and form a friendship at the Welcome Breakfast as outcasts amongst the quintessential wealthy Safe In My Arms is written in the third person narrative with alternating chapters of 4 different women: Lauren, Ronnie, Andrea, and Piper. Set in a fictional affluent California beachside town called Raisin Beach, the story revolves around an elite preschool called Silver Swans and the events following a violent attack against the school's director. Lauren, Ronnie, and Andrea are all new to the school and form a friendship at the Welcome Breakfast as outcasts amongst the quintessential wealthy parents. Each woman has their own shady past and secrets, willing to do anything to keep the truth from coming out. Can they trust each other when they all become suspects in a crime? Safe In My Arms reminded me of Big Little Lies except... it was nowhere near as good. The synopsis was promising but I found the plot to be extremely boring and too predictable which is just sacrilegious for a thriller. I love multiple POV in a 'whodunit' mystery but there was almost too much going on in this one, so I never got invested into any characters. There were some promising elements and if it wrapped up differently I think I would have enjoyed it but that ending was a huge disappointment. Sara Shepard is the author of the Pretty Little Liars series and The Lying Game series, I can't compare much since I've never read them. She's a great writer, my issue was strictly with the plot. If you're a fan of her YA novels, I'd say give it a shot but this one is a pass for me. Thank you NetGalley and Dutton for an advanced copy of this book in exchange fot my honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    The book is about three moms who are newcomers to this area. It's this very exclusive but made-up area in California. They become unlikely friends and are keeping some secrets from the community that is all very poignant, have something to do with motherhood and how they came to be mothers. They unwittingly get involved in this scandal and are blamed for this event that happens. Over time, the story unravels what those scandals are and the secrets of the community and the school. I loved how the The book is about three moms who are newcomers to this area. It's this very exclusive but made-up area in California. They become unlikely friends and are keeping some secrets from the community that is all very poignant, have something to do with motherhood and how they came to be mothers. They unwittingly get involved in this scandal and are blamed for this event that happens. Over time, the story unravels what those scandals are and the secrets of the community and the school. I loved how the author set the scene at this crazy, now toned-down, post-recession time at the school. She pokes fun at the things that are no longer there, like the catering and the hors d'oeuvres. Yet, there are these three new moms sneaking Baileys in the corner. One early passage stuck out to me (this is not a spoiler!), "She hurried into the bathroom. At the mirror, she leaned in close and inspected the lines on her face and the nakedness of her features—a swipe of lipstick here, a blot of concealer there. 'Hang on, let me put on my face for the day,' her mother Cynthia used to say. When she was a teenager, Cynthia's boudoir became Andrea's favorite guilty pleasure, beholding her mom's giant vanity of colors, labels, scents, all those private hours of slathering and puffing and brushing and then hastily wiping it all off when she heard her mother's key in the door down the long, long hall because back then, Andrea wasn't a girl in her mother's eyes. Andrea was her mother's son." I admit I had not gotten a glimpse of that twist until the sentence. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/sar...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liz Mannegren

    Having enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars series, I was excited to give this book a try. Safe in My Arms is full of the same sort of layered secrets and twists but has a much more adult feel to it. While characters with secrets sometimes drive me crazy as a reader (just tell the truth and you'll avoid so much of this!!!) it always makes for an entertaining read. I did figure out one of the "big" twists fairly early on and had a fairly good inkling as to the second big twist, but the plot felt fresh Having enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars series, I was excited to give this book a try. Safe in My Arms is full of the same sort of layered secrets and twists but has a much more adult feel to it. While characters with secrets sometimes drive me crazy as a reader (just tell the truth and you'll avoid so much of this!!!) it always makes for an entertaining read. I did figure out one of the "big" twists fairly early on and had a fairly good inkling as to the second big twist, but the plot felt fresh. All in all, 3.5 stars for this thriller!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Very weak and a bit all over the place which is surprising from this author

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen Axnick

    I am very reluctant to give any author a one star review, but this book was such a disappointment that the rating seems appropriate. I was very interested in this psychological suspense novel based on the publisher’s promotional blurb. However, I had so many issues with the book that I had to force myself to finish it. The setting is a high-end community (Raisin Beach…Really?!) in Southern California and the focus is an elite nursery school. The economy, in general, has taken downturn, which impa I am very reluctant to give any author a one star review, but this book was such a disappointment that the rating seems appropriate. I was very interested in this psychological suspense novel based on the publisher’s promotional blurb. However, I had so many issues with the book that I had to force myself to finish it. The setting is a high-end community (Raisin Beach…Really?!) in Southern California and the focus is an elite nursery school. The economy, in general, has taken downturn, which impacted the school’s revenue and some parents’ ability to meet the pricey tuition. At the beginning-of-the-school-year welcoming breakfast, we are introduced to Piper, the Director, Carson, her assistant, and three mothers who don’t seem to blend in with the sophistication and highly competitive nature of the other parents. When Piper is attacked and left unconscious, the three “misfit” moms come under suspicion and commit to identifying the perpetrator. In the process, multiple secrets, deceptions and illegal activities are revealed. From the Epilogue and the Author’s Note, it seems that the intended message of the storyline is that it is challenging to be a good mother, that no one is perfect, and that self-acceptance in striving to meet ideals needs to be tempered with some slack. Unfortunately, these characters were not great models for this message. Given the backstory of each woman, I wanted to be compassionate and yet I found them some of the most unsympathetic characters I have ever encountered. The levels of deceit and manipulation made for high drama that stretched the limits of believability and the pacing of the book felt disorganized. There was so much going on that at times I struggled to keep the characters and their issues straight. This was my first exposure to this popular author, but based on my experience with is book, I doubt I will read more of her offerings. My thanks to the author, Penguin Group Dutton, and NetGalley for the privilege of reviewing a digital ARC in exchange for an independent, honest review. .

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dallas Strawn

    Sara Shepard, the YA phenomenon author of Pretty Little Liars, returns with a new book for adults; a rather dark mysterious novel about the struggle of motherhood and the lengths a mother will go to protect their child. The story centers on three mothers: Lauren, Andrea, and Ronnie who have all enrolled there child a fancy preschool called Silver Swans and at orientation bond over slipping some alcohol into each other’s coffee cups, and striking up a friendship. Then the director of the school i Sara Shepard, the YA phenomenon author of Pretty Little Liars, returns with a new book for adults; a rather dark mysterious novel about the struggle of motherhood and the lengths a mother will go to protect their child. The story centers on three mothers: Lauren, Andrea, and Ronnie who have all enrolled there child a fancy preschool called Silver Swans and at orientation bond over slipping some alcohol into each other’s coffee cups, and striking up a friendship. Then the director of the school is found with blood pooled around her head and the three mothers standing nearby....... The book started off strong, and then it became a bit of a slow burn. I really empathized with the character Ronnie and the back story she had with the challenges and demons in her life, but didn’t relate as much with Andrea and Lauren. I thought there characters weren’t very likable. The novel has some nice twists and turns that will keep you flipping the pages. I definitely enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. 4 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    Safe in My Arms is the new novel from Sara Shepard. The Silver Swans preschool is the place the yummy mummys want to send their children. Three moms have just enrolled their children. But they don't fit the mold and it seems someone doesn't want them at the school. Vitriolic notes are found in their kid's backpacks telling them quit the school. The three meet each other and band together - they're determined not to be drummed out of the school. The thing is though....Andrea, Lauren and Ronnie all Safe in My Arms is the new novel from Sara Shepard. The Silver Swans preschool is the place the yummy mummys want to send their children. Three moms have just enrolled their children. But they don't fit the mold and it seems someone doesn't want them at the school. Vitriolic notes are found in their kid's backpacks telling them quit the school. The three meet each other and band together - they're determined not to be drummed out of the school. The thing is though....Andrea, Lauren and Ronnie all do have secrets that they don't want brought to light. And the person leaving the notes seems to know those secrets.... I quite liked the three moms, although I admit to having a soft spot for Andrea. Each of the women bring a different mindset and skill set to the friendship. The reader becomes privy to what their secrets are as the story progresses and three new plot lines are added to the book. Things at the school escalate and the three friends seem to now be suspects. So.....they decide to investigate on their own. I did find I had to suspend disbelief in a number of situations, including the police investigation into the crime at the school. Shepard is the author of the successful teen series Pretty Little Liars. I'm not aware of any other adult books that she's penned, but I could be wrong. For me, I found this book to have a simpler style of writing. The tone was what I would call light suspense, not the edge of your seat suspense. Shepard does throw some turns into her tale as the end draws near. And kudos for doing it for all four plotlines. I did find the wrap up went on too long for me as the explanation for everything that has gone on is detailed in the run up to the final pages. And she throws in one more twist. Not sure that last one worked for me. In the author's notes at the end, Shepard says that "As I wrote this story, much of the world felt unstable, uncertain and in flux, though as a result, I felt even more inspired to acknowledge the struggles of motherhood and how it's not always about being the 'best' or 'perfect", but accepting where you're at and cutting yourself some slack." Safe in My Arms was an interesting vehicle to carry this message. A good book for the beach, but not as suspenseful as I had expected.

  20. 5 out of 5

    books_by_bethany

    3.5 Stars. After Piper, the principal of an elite preschool, is attacked, three of the mothers are suspects. Andrea is single mom, who has run away from her east coast family. Lauren is secretly struggling with postpartum rage, and Ronnie is in hiding with her daughter from a dangerous man. Together, they begin to investigate in hopes of figuring out what Piper is hiding, and who is actually at fault for the attack. Each character in the story has secrets, and they are committed to keeping their 3.5 Stars. After Piper, the principal of an elite preschool, is attacked, three of the mothers are suspects. Andrea is single mom, who has run away from her east coast family. Lauren is secretly struggling with postpartum rage, and Ronnie is in hiding with her daughter from a dangerous man. Together, they begin to investigate in hopes of figuring out what Piper is hiding, and who is actually at fault for the attack. Each character in the story has secrets, and they are committed to keeping their secrets hidden. It took me a little while to get into the story, but I was intrigued by the mysterious notes these seemingly “outcast” mothers were receiving. As the book continued, there was a lot going on, so the story felt a bit jumbled and chaotic at times. I liked the different points of view of the various main characters, and the elite nursery school setting was an interesting one. Overall, while I did not think any of the “twists” were too shocking, it was an enjoyable read. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for an advance copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    I'm so glad that I read this one. I had both the audiobook and the ebook and that helped me at times since there were four different POV's: Lauren's, Ronnie's, Andrea's, and Piper's. The first three girls all had recently moved to Raisin, Beach, CA and all of them were mothers. I loved that aspect of the story. Lauren had a seven month old boy, Ronnie had a four year old daughter, and Andrea had a four year old son. I love how the narrator used cute little voices when talking for the children. T I'm so glad that I read this one. I had both the audiobook and the ebook and that helped me at times since there were four different POV's: Lauren's, Ronnie's, Andrea's, and Piper's. The first three girls all had recently moved to Raisin, Beach, CA and all of them were mothers. I loved that aspect of the story. Lauren had a seven month old boy, Ronnie had a four year old daughter, and Andrea had a four year old son. I love how the narrator used cute little voices when talking for the children. The story focuses around a pre-school with Piper being the director and a documentary being made about it. The main characters played such unique parts and yet the way the way the three girls' friendships came together and how they were such great support for each other was a favorite part of the story line for me. Struggles in real life are not easy for sure, but having friends and loved ones to help you through them and support you is so important, and (as in real life) not all of these women had that from some of the family members who should've been most supportive. Loved it and highly recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    I received a complimentary copy of SAFE IN MY ARMS by Sara Shephard. Thank you to the author and to Dutton Books! SAFE IN MY ARMS follows three young mothers as they begin a new year with the Siler Swans preschool. It is only the welcome breakfast and already they’re feeling the pressure of this expensive school and the expectations of the other mothers. Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie recognize in each other the potential to be friends, each feeling a bit of an ‘outsider’ in this environment. Each of I received a complimentary copy of SAFE IN MY ARMS by Sara Shephard. Thank you to the author and to Dutton Books! SAFE IN MY ARMS follows three young mothers as they begin a new year with the Siler Swans preschool. It is only the welcome breakfast and already they’re feeling the pressure of this expensive school and the expectations of the other mothers. Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie recognize in each other the potential to be friends, each feeling a bit of an ‘outsider’ in this environment. Each of these women has secrets they’re trying to keep under wraps and issues in their life that makes them feel different. When each gets messages that make them feel their the target of someone’s campaign to get them out, they each fear that someone knows their truths. When Silver Swan’s principal is attacked, the women are at the suspect list so they must find out the truth behind Silver Swan’s secrets. Once I got going in this book, I didn’t want to put it down. Each of our main characters in the shifting points of view has shadows in their past that color their present day and I think the author did a fantastic job of layering in and revealing those secrets as the story unfolds. I was hooked to find out what was going on with the principal’s often bizarre behavior too and the author gave us very intriguing snippets of her perspective as well. In addition to the twisty ride this book provided which I loved, I also loved the friendship that forms between Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie. On paper they maybe don’t make sense, but they bond quickly over feeling different among the Silver Swans set and do a fantastic job of sticking up for each other as secrets begin to come to light. This was a very fun read with some twists I didn’t expect. SAFE IN MY ARMS is available now!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julia Richardson

    How in the world can you create a thriller in the setting of a posh preschool? However, this is exactly what Sara Shepard concocted! Three moms from very different backgrounds find themselves surrounded by a mystery...who attacked the head of the preschool their children attend? The answers that are revealed will leave you stunned! I loved the friendship that the moms formed and their support of one another along with the twists in the storyline!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diane O'Brien

    4.5 stars; audiobook. Really enjoyed this book about a group of moms in a prestigious preschool. Lots of good twists but also seemed plausible (or more plausible than the average thriller) I could see this being turned into a movie and I would watch!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Diversity run amok strikes again. Normal first chapter of three moms striking up a friendship at a school event. Chapter two: Surprise - one of the moms is a dude. 😞 Bailed at Loc 601.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this advanced copy to read and review. I would have retitled this book “A Village Full of Secrets.” Every character has at least one big secret that they don’t want revealed as it may damage their relationships. Lauren, Andrea and Ronnie have all enrolled their children in the Silver Swans preschool and daycare for the first time. After the first day they all receive messages in various ways that indicate somebody knows their secrets. The three wind up Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this advanced copy to read and review. I would have retitled this book “A Village Full of Secrets.” Every character has at least one big secret that they don’t want revealed as it may damage their relationships. Lauren, Andrea and Ronnie have all enrolled their children in the Silver Swans preschool and daycare for the first time. After the first day they all receive messages in various ways that indicate somebody knows their secrets. The three wind up connecting, discovering the messages the others received and joining forces trying to figure out who might have written them. Then there’s an almost murder, gaslighting, an unwanted visitor and much more. The book read fast for me, as I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I thought the pacing was excellent, the characteristics of the three moms rang true and what happened didn’t seem that far out there. I highly recommend this title.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Krysten

    Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review, however all opinions are my own. This is the first time I've read a Sara Shepard novel, although I was a fan of the early days of the Pretty Little Liars show, which is why I was intrigued. The premise sounded intriguing and reminded me a little bit of Big Little Lies... Except not as good. I did really like the main characters and the secrets they were hiding. I LOVE that this book has a transgender main charac Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review, however all opinions are my own. This is the first time I've read a Sara Shepard novel, although I was a fan of the early days of the Pretty Little Liars show, which is why I was intrigued. The premise sounded intriguing and reminded me a little bit of Big Little Lies... Except not as good. I did really like the main characters and the secrets they were hiding. I LOVE that this book has a transgender main character, which you don't see nearly enough of in novels yet. I love the friendship between these three women, although sometimes each one of them acted a little ridiculous. However, there were some tropes in this book that made it hard to love. It was pretty predictable and I just feel like if Shepard had put a little bit more work into it, maybe I could give it more than 3 stars. As I said, I've never read one of Shepard's books, and I have to hope they aren't as all over the place as this one was. Nonetheless, it is readable, and possibly someone else would be more entertained by it than I was. Maybe that person is you?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    This was a fun beach read, though it lacked too much mystery and leaned on familiar tropes in psychological thrillers (her memory is messed up!). I did find the trans character to be written with sensitivity and care-- though I would need to ask my trans friends if they found that to be the case from the inside. I'm just glad there is a trans woman in a major novel! This was a fun beach read, though it lacked too much mystery and leaned on familiar tropes in psychological thrillers (her memory is messed up!). I did find the trans character to be written with sensitivity and care-- though I would need to ask my trans friends if they found that to be the case from the inside. I'm just glad there is a trans woman in a major novel!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Danielle B

    Andrea, Ronnie, and Lauren have all enrolled their children in the affluent private school called Silver Swans. They soon find themselves in a web of mystery after an attempted murder of the principal of the school occurs. Each woman clearly has secrets from the past and someone begins threatening to expose each of them. Who is threatening them and who is responsible for the murder attempt? Sara Shepard is a #1 best selling author and it shows in her latest novel! The writing is fantastic and I s Andrea, Ronnie, and Lauren have all enrolled their children in the affluent private school called Silver Swans. They soon find themselves in a web of mystery after an attempted murder of the principal of the school occurs. Each woman clearly has secrets from the past and someone begins threatening to expose each of them. Who is threatening them and who is responsible for the murder attempt? Sara Shepard is a #1 best selling author and it shows in her latest novel! The writing is fantastic and I suspect this book will be very successful. The storyline feels very current is executed flawlessly. I think this book would appeal to a similar audience as “Pretty Little Liars” did. I would recommend this book. Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leighton

    Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! First off, I have been a huge fan of Sara Shepard since Pretty Little Liars. Many tropes in YA thrillers, such as an unknown, omniscient entity sending threatening notes to a group of friends, were popularized through Shepard's books, and it has spawned a whole generation of similar books. I've read every book she's written since, including her books for adults. Her novel The Elizas is one of my favorit Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! First off, I have been a huge fan of Sara Shepard since Pretty Little Liars. Many tropes in YA thrillers, such as an unknown, omniscient entity sending threatening notes to a group of friends, were popularized through Shepard's books, and it has spawned a whole generation of similar books. I've read every book she's written since, including her books for adults. Her novel The Elizas is one of my favorite thrillers, and I still think about the plot and its twist to this day Needless to say, I was so excited to get approved to review this book! Thank you again to the publisher for this opportunity! Safe in My Arms by Sara Shepard is a gripping domestic thriller full of twists and turns. The story revolves around three moms at a prestigious preschool names Silver Swans. Andrea, Lauren, and Ronnie are new moms in the community who meet one night at a school function. They are outsiders, and each of them is hiding a deadly secret. Soon, they start getting threatening notes in their children's backpacks when they come home from school. Who wants them gone? Has someone discovered their secrets? Then, the principal of the school is nearly murdered. Did she know too much? And is the killer after them, too? Here is a chilling excerpt from the Prologue: "You lie on the hard, cold floor. You can’t scream. Your head throbs in pain, and you think you might be bleeding. You can hear kids laughing not so far away, on the playground. You want to call out to them, but there’s something wrong with your voice. You can’t open your eyes. The pain is in your back, your jaw, your chest. Pain that doesn’t made sense. This might be the end. It might be coming soon. Why had you done it—any of it? Why hadn’t you been happy to leave well enough alone? If only you could go back to the beginning. If only you could start over, change things, change yourself. This is what you think about as you lie there, helpless: your regrets. But also that maybe, just maybe, you deserve this." Overall, Safe in My Arms is an unputdownable domestic thriller that will appeal to fans of Ruth Ware and Big Little Lies. Just like Sara Shepard's other books, I could not put this book down. I had to keep reading to find out what happens next. If I had to complain about one thing, I would say the first part of this book, when we're introduced to the three main characters, is somewhat dry. That might have to do with me not being a mother and not having experienced sending my child to a new school. If you're a mother, you might find this part of the book very relatable. Once the action kicks off in the first third of this book, it became unputdownable. I ended up finishing this book in one sitting, and I even kept reading while I was eating because I had to find out what happens next. One highlight of this book are the three main characters. There is LGBTQ representation, and even though I was introduced to three characters at once, I didn't have any trouble distinguishing them. Each felt like they had their own voice and perspective. Another highlight of this book is the reveal and the ending. If you're a fan of Sara Shepard like I am, then you know that she is the Queen of Twists. I wasn't expecting the true identity of the killer at all. I had been putting together clues the whole time I was reading the book, but I hadn't figured it out. If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of thrillers in general, I highly recommend checking out this book when it comes out in July!

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