Perfect Balance Between Romance and Suspense
“No matter what happens,we will be secret sisters forever.”
FINAL DECISION: SECRET SISTERS perfectly balances romance and suspense into a book that thrills the nerves and satisfies the heart. Twisty and clever, this book doesn’t give up all its secrets until the very end.
THE STORY: Eighteen years ago, darkness entered the lives of two young girls who were best friends. Madeline Chase and Daphne Knight were unseparable until a man came taking one and leaving the other. Madeline has survived after the brutal attack that sent her fleeing from Cooper Island and continues to inhibit her ability to have a lasting relationship with a man. Now the head of the successful Sanctuary Creek Inns, Madeline is called back to the Island to deal with the property where she was attacked. Jack Rayner works hotel security for Madeline’s business despite her attempts to get rid of him. When a murder forces Madeline to tell Jack the truth about her past, the two work together to uncover the secrets that refuse to stay buried on Cooper Island.
OPINION: I loved this book in a way I haven’t loved a Jayne Ann Krentz book in a long time. It is no secret that I have been somewhat disappointed in the recent Krentz books because to me it felt that the romance was suffering and the books were becoming more suspense than romance. This concerned me because as a longtime reader of romances, have seen some of the best known writers turn primarily to suspense and crime drama books where romance is either non-existent or highly diminished. With this on my mind, the blurb for this book concerned me because it seemed that the emphasis was completely on the mystery with little mention of the romance.
I primarily read romance and I like it that way. I read a wide variety of books that fall within the broad romance genre, but I do prefer that my books have a positive romantic relationship that is integral to the story. Happily, SECRET SISTERS satisfied all my romance needs while providing a twisty and tricky suspense story that kept me turning pages until the very last one.
“She had spent eighteen years keeping secrets. She was good at it.”
The characters in SECRET SISTERS are strong individuals who have experienced pain and yet have grown stronger. I especially liked Madeline – a woman who has been damaged and yet has become successful and while she lives with pain, she does not allow herself to wallow in victimhood. She struggles and with her fears, but she constantly challenges herself. She is adult and accomplished. Her match is Jack who is a modern western hero.
“In the mythic past that infused the modern southwest, you have a man like Jack a badge and sent him out into the dusty street at high noon to stop the bad guy.”
Jack is definitely a brains over brawn type of hero. Smart and savvy, Jack has experience being a profiler and thus is able to anticipate the actions of others. Unfortunately, this knowledge also haunts Jack. He has his own secrets in his past. He knows that he wants Madeline but also knows that his past makes him unsuitable for any long term relationship. Coincidentally, Madeline also has difficulties with long term relationships. They find in one another, however, a reason to regret their limitations. I appreciated that these characters talk to one another, are adult and don’t do stupid things.
The other major characters in the book are Madeline’s friend Daphne and Jack’s brother Abe. These two have a romance themselves, but it is secondary to the more developed relationship between Madeline and Jack.
“She concluded that Abe Rayner was going to be irritating. However, there was something reassuring about him.”
Daphne is an interior designer and a recent widow. Part of the significant action in the book is Daphne and Madeline rediscovering one another and the healing that their friendship provides.
Abe is an Information Analyst and a definite geek. Shorter than Daphne, he is not a traditional hero, but his relationship with Daphne provides a nice counterpoint to the more complicated and complex relationship between Madeline and Jack.
The suspense story captivated me until the end. It had multiple surprises and even when things seemed to be resolved, there was more to be revealed. This is a book about secrets and just about everyone has a secret. I believe that the best part of this book is finding out where the mystery is going and thus I don’t want to reveal too much. I was glad that I didn’t peak at the end of the book to find out the ultimate conclusion because the journey of discovery was especially enjoyable in this book. The mystery stems from what happened to Madeline and Daphne eighteen years before and I found the solution to be intriguing and satisfying.
The mystery and the romance in this book mutually reinforce one another. The romance is developed through the mystery and the mystery in turn gives urgency to the romance. This is one of Krentz’s best.
WORTH MENTIONING: I love a man who cooks and cooks well.
CONNECTED BOOKS: SECRET SISTERS is a standalone.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.