Here we are to the first Monday in August. There is still one more month to get in a vacation, and if you are planning one and need a good, suspenseful read with romance, check out, The Secret Sister, the latest book from bestselling author, Brenda Novak. This book is a bit of a departure from Novak as it is more of a thriller style book, perfect for beach reading or for an afternoon in the backyard. I am excited to be participating in The Secret Sister Tour courtesy of Candace's Book Blog and Promotions. So let's get to the post.
Here is my review:
The Secret Sister (Fairham Island #1) by Brenda Novak
Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?
After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.
Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she'd prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He's back on the island, and to her surprise, he's raising a young daughter alone. Maisey's still attracted to him, but her heart's too broken to risk…
Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must've been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.
Four stars: A suspenseful thriller blended with an enticing romance.
Maisey stomach clenches with anxiety as she returns home to her hometown and her brother and mother. Maisey and her mother have had a difficult relationship to say the least, but Maisey is coming home to support her brother Keith. Keith has spent years strung out on drugs, and recently he tried to commit suicide. So Maisey, despite the ruins of her own life heads home. Once back on Fairham, Maisey decides to live in her family's bungalows instead of her mother's house. The only problem is that the bungalows were heavily damaged by a hurricane. Rafe, a boy Maisey once had a fling with as a teenager, was hired to repair the homes. When Maisey and Rafe meet face to face, sparks of attraction fly, but Maisey is in no position to start a romance. Things take a strange turn when Rafe uncovers some family photos in one of the bungalows. It appears Maisey and Keith had an older sister, but what happened to her, and why doesn't her mother ever talk about the girl in the photos?
What I Liked:
- I always enjoy a solid suspense/thriller, but I don't like ones that are dark and often gory. No worries, The Secret Sister is an exciting read with an engaging mystery and a nice romance. I especially appreciated that the book refrained from being dark and disturbing. The romance and the young, blind girl helped to make this a nice, entertaining page turner. This book is perfect for beach reading.
- The romance is almost like a second chance romance. Rafe and Maisey had a brief encounter when they were young. Once reunited, there is still some chemistry between the two. Even though the romance starts out with heat and lust, it soon settles into something more as Rafe works to earn Maisey's trust, no matter how hard she pushes him away. A friendship is established, and then it moves into something more. I was worried a bit about a love triangle, but it doesn't come to pass. I liked the way the romance played out, and I thought it provided a nice balance with the mystery story line.
- The mystery isn't revealed until the second half, which is a bit surprising but it works. The first part of the book is devoted to the romance and getting to know the characters before the suspense takes hold. I appreciated that the author took the time to show the messiness in the relationships that Maisey and Keith have with their mother. It is important in order for the mystery to work as it leads to doubt and conjectures regarding the mystery sister's fate. Once the thread is revealed, the book moves into hyperdrive. I enjoyed the suspense, and I liked the way it all played out.
- I liked the character growth with all the main characters. At the beginning, Maisey and Keith are both struggling to overcome their pasts and difficulties in their personal lives. Their mother is cold and condescending, and when they are with their mother, fights often ensue. Over the course of the book, their is growth and change. Maisey especially transforms. I appreciated the changes in all the characters, and I liked where they ended up.
- The ending wraps everything up nicely, and it ends on a high note. I was pleasantly surprised. as this was the first in new series. I am curious to see where the next book will go, since the story line in this one seems to be concluded. No cliffhangers or nagging questions. You get a complete satisfying read.
And The Not So Much:
- Even though I liked the mystery and the suspense, I thought the final reveal was a bit hurried. Not to mention, I wasn't completely surprised. I don't know maybe it was just me, but I was expecting the revelation to be a bit more dramatic. Not that I didn't like the way it turned out, but I just was hoping for a bit more after the buildup.
- I didn't like that the true motives behind what happened with the secret sister were never uncovered, instead it was all conjecture. I wanted a better understanding of why that person did what they did. Furthermore, it wasn't clear as to why the blackmailing was going on, once again, it was all guesses.
- I was disappointed that the book ended abruptly during the happy part. I was hoping for a bit more resolution with the mother's character, and I would have loved for the ending to be drawn out a bit more.
The Secret Sister was an entertaining and exciting read that blends romance with suspense. This is a terrific thriller for those who like their mysteries on the lighter side since this one refrains from being dark and disturbing. I liked the romance and the character growth. I would recommend this book for those who want a page turner for summer or anytime you have an afternoon to while away.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
About the author:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards.
She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.
Find Brenda Novak Online:
I am delighted to be able to offer a chance to win one of
Five (5) copies of The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak (US/CA)
Ends Aug. 12th
This is a tour wide giveaway. Please note: I will not be responsible for selecting the winners or distributing the prizes. For further details on the giveaway, visit Candace's Book Blog and Promotions while you are there be sure to check out other upcoming tour opportunities.