Friday, October 16, 2020

Book Review: The Exit Strategy

By Jami Denison

A lot of the domestic thrillers I read center around a love triangle among a wife, her husband, and his mistress. Generally the wife is the pampered stay-at-home mom type, while the mistress is much younger and grasping and clever but not necessarily educated. When the women discover each other, they fight over which one the man in the middle truly loves. 

Lainey Cameron’s debut novel, The Exit Strategy, is a refreshing change from this pattern. When the two female protagonists discover they are involved with a cheater, they both dump him to the curb and work together to make him pay. Then they get on with their lives. 

When Ryn Brennan discovers text messages that prove her husband Todd is cheating on her, it’s only the beginning. For Todd’s girlfriend is Carly Santos, lead scientist of the biotech firm that Ryn, a venture capitalist, will be investing in. It’s her first major investment since being offered a partnership. Not surprisingly, Ryn and Carly’s initial meeting doesn’t go well. But as soon as Ryn tells Carly the truth about Todd, the women see that he is the true villain of the piece. 

Ryn and Carly are both highly intelligent women who are dedicated to their careers, and much of the book is dedicated to their teamwork in positioning Carly’s company. Author Cameron, who describes herself as a “recovering tech industry executive,” brings her detailed knowledge of the venture capitalism industry to bear, but never does the reader feel lost in the weeds of insider jargon. Their quest to launch Carly’s product is just as engrossing as their mission to rid themselves of Todd.

Cameron says that The Exit Strategy was inspired by “a decade of being the only woman in the corporate boardroom,” and the sexism that is so pervasive there. Her personal experience is invaluable, but may have led the book to feel too heavy-handed. With Todd being not only a cheater but a master-level manipulator, the subplot concerning the sexism that Ryn and Carly face at work feels like too much of a bad thing, and the message was muddied rather than amplified. And for me, the coincidence of Carly and Ryn’s business connection would have been more palatable had Todd also worked in venture capitalism or biotechnology. 

These quibbles are only minor irritants in what is overall a very enjoyable story. Usually in this scenario the reader roots for one woman over another; Cameron lets us root for both to be victorious. In a genre that often hints that the most important thing a woman can do in her life is choose the right man, it’s a relief to read a book where the women put themselves first.

Thanks to Lainey Cameron for the book in exchange for an honest review.


Janie Emaus said...

I loved this book! I found it very believable and could relate to the characters.

Maggie Smith said...

I really enjoyed this book, even though I don't know a lot about corporate life or the world of venture capitalism. I found it refreshing that the two women worked together for a win-win for both instead of the more typical "cat fight." Looking forward to what Cameron writes next.

Elizabeth Wafler said...

Wish I'd written this review myself. You included so many feelings I had about the novel, especially the unique quality of its trope.

Catherine Boomer said...

A fab read!

Christine said...

I remember having similar experiences in corporate America as the only female in IT in my twenties, and this book was a terrific and relatable read. It was great to see the female protagonists team up instead of tearing each other down, and I was cheering for them both at the end of the book!

Lisa said...

I really liked this book. So fun to read, and turns the usual women's fiction idea that happiness is found mostly in family on its head.

Delise Torres said...

Great review! I really loved the womance depicted in this book and how both Carly and Ryn grew as a direct result of their friendship, no men to save them in sight!