Author: Katherine St. John
Audiobook Length: ~13 hours
Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes the trip will be a much-needed break from her stalled acting career and uniquely humiliating waitressing job, but once she’s aboard the luxurious Lion’s Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.
Belle’s dream vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare as she and the handful of other girls Summer invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their controlling host-and in one terrifying moment, Belle comes to see Summer for who she truly is: a vicious gold digger who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Belle realizes she’s going to have to keep her wits about her — and her own big secret closely hidden — if she wants to make it off the yacht alive.
The Lion’s Den is a roller coaster mystery that keeps you guessing all the way until the end. The chapters are mixed between the past and present that slowly reveal each puzzle piece to create the full picture that is revealed at the end. At first, the chapters set in the past seem out of place, but the more details that appear in each part, the more it all makes sense. It was a very well-done thriller as it is a story that I did not see coming based on the synopsis alone. I love that this story surprised me and it took me on a wild ride while cruising on a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean.
I absolutely loved the narrator, Christine Lakin, for this audiobook. She did an excellent job voicing our main character while also creating a colorful cast of secondary characters by giving each a different voice that fit their personalities. It made the story fly by as she brought a lot of levity to the darker parts of the story where it assists your imagination play the entire plot in your mind as if it is a movie playing in front of your eyes. The entire story is told through the point of view, Isabelle (Belle) Camden. She is a struggling actress who also works part time at various jobs to help pay the bills. She is preparing to go on a week-long vacation with the mega-rich after being invited by her former “best-friend” Summer.
Summer and Belle met each other 10 years ago while at university. The two of them have a very complex relationship where Summer obviously wants the good life for herself and Belle blindly supports her and forgives any mistakes along the way. The flashbacks slowly move forward through time as we progress through time closer and closer to the present day. We move years before the present, followed by days before. Each new piece reveals a part of Summer and Belle’s relationship with each other and how they end up to the present and a lot of decisions that were made along the way start to make a lot more sense. Before these pieces are revealed, I found myself truly wonder how in the world Belle was making certain decisions.
The present day portions of the story take place on John’s yacht. John Lyon is the older sugar-daddy mysterious boyfriend of Summer and he might not be what he seems. Along with Belle, Summer has invited her mother, Rhonda, her sister, Brittani, her sister’s friend, Amethyst, and two other girlfriends, Claire and Wendy. All the characters are just excited to experience the life of the rich and famous with private jets, mega-yachts, and an all-expenses paid trip. It seems like a dream until things start to not be as glamourous as they thought, starting with being directed here and there before they even get on the plane, followed by assigned seats on the jet. At first no one thinks anything of it, but soon their time on the boat becomes a regimented schedule that starts to seem more like a prison than a vacation.
The author did a brilliant job with the writing of her characters in this story. The main, the secondary, and even those that appear very briefly all fit their roles very well. There are characters that you love, there are those that you hate, and there are those that you love to hate. It is a great mix that fits the mystery aspect as you wonder the motivations of everyone. The dialogue is not very complex, but I would not expect it to be based on some of the characters as they did not need to appear or be overly intelligent. In fact, the story becomes more compelling as the characters are smart in their own ways, but are not brilliant.
Overall, I felt the story dragged at first, but when I got towards the end, I realized the importance of the initial flashback chapters. The story wraps up well for our main character, but I was still left wondering a lot of questions about some of the supporting characters. The glamourous world of being on a guest on a yacht and having your every whim catered too was entertaining. I liked that some of the crew members were included, even in tiny fragments, as it was nice to see both sides of the “locked room” style story where it was not just the guests that weren’t free to do anything they wanted. The mystery aspect was well-done as I had feelings here and there about how this story would end, but I was not able to guess every single piece. The present day portions painted a gorgeous picture of the Mediterranean and I would love to take a boat all around there one day. I loved the glitz and glam as it illustrated the rich people that frequently frolic around the area mixed with the locals. There were aspects that did not live up to my expectations, but I greatly enjoyed reading St. John’s work and I would read more from her in the future!