Tell Me Your Secrets ...
Tell Me Your Secrets… is the third in Blaze’s “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…” gothic romance promotion, and it reminded me much of the first in the series. Like Cindi Myers’s Fear of Falling, it sets up a classic gothic premise with a great deal of potential that it doesn’t really fulfill. The end result is an easy, pleasant sort of read I liked slightly less than the earlier book.
As a writer for the soap opera Secrets, Brooke Ashby is familiar with outlandish plots. Then she finds herself living one when she receives an anonymous note informing her that she was adopted. When her parents confirm this, she digs into her past and discovers she has a twin sister she never knew about. What’s more, her sister, Cameron McKenzie, recently went missing. Her family claims Cameron came down with a case of wedding jitters due to her upcoming nuptials to horse trainer Sloan Campbell and went off to think about things, but Brooke has a feeling something happened to her newfound sibling.
To learn the truth, Brooke goes to the McKenzie family homestead pretending to be her sister, claiming that she was mugged in San Francisco and has amnesia. Everyone seems to believe her. What she doesn’t know is that Sloan sees through her immediately. He doesn’t know who this imposter is who’s taken Cameron’s place, but he knows she’s not his fiance and he plans to stick by her until he gets to the bottom of it. As Brooke gets to know the family, she also learns the sad history of the The Hacienda Montega, the McKenzie estate on the California coast. None of the brides who lived there had a very happy life, most of them dying young. When Brooke begins to receive threats, she has to wonder if Cameron fell victim to the same fate, and whether by taking her sister’s place, she’ll be next.
The premise is good, but the execution seldom, if ever, rises above average. Though Summers’ prose is smooth and readable, the story lacks spark. There’s little real tension or suspense about Cameron’s fate. As Brooke begins her masquerade, she thinks, “In addition to apprehension, I also felt a little thrill of excitement. The adventure was about to begin.” Rather than a matter of any importance, this felt like nothing more than a lark. It takes far too long for Brooke to express genuine concern about what may have happened to her sister, which made the story unrealistic and prevented me from caring too much. When she does begin to worry, it’s too little, too late. Similarly, when the author cranks up the suspense and the threats to Brooke’s life increase, those scenes are somewhat interesting, but seldom gripping.
The characters are bland. Brooke narrates the scenes from her point of view in first-person (Sloan’s are told in third), which should give the reader a chance to know her intimately. But Brooke’s character is so shallow that having her relate the story in her own words adds nothing. There’s simply too little to her. Sloan is no deeper. The mystery is okay, but certain aspects of the truth, once revealed, seemed contrived, and some of the characters’ reactions to those revelations seemed unrealistic. Like much of this story, they seemed too easy and not deep enough.
This is also another Blaze that doesn’t come close to being a “red-hot read.” For the first half of the book, Brooke and Sloan only share two kisses, and the supposed chemistry between them feels more obligatory than inflammatory. During the second half, they have sex several times, but there’s nothing in the scenes that rises above “warm.” It’s a case of quantity over quality.
Tell Me Your Secrets… got off to a respectable start, but slowly lost my interest as it went along. I didn’t mind reading it, but I doubt I’ll remember it in a week. It’s just too bland to take advantage of a solid premise, resulting in an inoffensive, but forgettable, read.