The Best Kept Secret
Grade : B

Tawna Fenske certainly knows how to bring the funny.  Sometimes she’ll make you cringe at her character's behavior, and sometimes you’ll get a giggle over their silliness.  The Best Kept Secret made me do both, and your ability to enjoy a lot of goofiness will best determine how much you’ll like this book.  Fenske tempers this one with a fair amount of angst and sadness, which definitely adds a new layer onto her usually drama-free stories.

Nurse Nyla Franklin and smokejumper Leo Sayer (not the singer, obviously!) have been best friends since they were little kids, and it’s a relationship that survived the break-up of Leo’s marriage to Nyla’s sister Mandi.  When Leo needs to undergo gum grafts at the dentist, Nyla visits him at home after the procedure, finding him utterly ripped on Percocet. While bombed out of his mind, Leo blurts out a number of embarrassing secrets (including how he really lost his virginity) – and high among them is the revelation that he did not father Mandi’s son, Seth. It’s a notion that Nyla had never considered, and the cheating is the main reason why Leo and Mandi abandoned their marriage. The next morning, Leo swears Nyla to secrecy, but unfortunately, she’s terrible at keeping secrets, and her need to be truthful with her sister springboards several confrontations to life.

Their new bond – among other things – makes Nyla look at Leo in a brand new light.  But can the two of them ever find love in the wake of Mandi and Leo’s break-up?  And will the rest of the family figure out that Nyla now knows about Seth’s parentage?

You’ll have to get over two things to enjoy Best Kept Secret; the notion of two former in-laws getting together and making the beast with two backs, and the amount of humiliation humor the book offers.  This is balanced out with sad moments, but our hero does get hit in the balls.

Personally, I found the book as funny as Fenske’s previous novels, but the angst kind of hampers the book’s fluffy flow.  On one hand, we have Seth taking everything that’s happened to his family unit with dry good humor; on the other Leo is having trouble getting over Mandi and Mandi feels actual guilt about her previous cheating. Leo and Nyla have a hard time switching from friends to lovers for numerous reasons (at least until they start “fixing her shower” to use a euphuism employed by Leo). It’s all very awkward and uncomfortable, and sometimes it works and sometimes - such as when the heroine chokes as a result of being in close proximity to such a hot guy - it doesn't.

I liked all the imperfect characters here; it’s the plot that tugs Best Kept Secret down.  But if you’re willing to look beyond its flaws, the wild and sexy trip it takes you on might be right up your alley.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

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Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes
Grade : B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : March 18, 2022

Publication Date: 03/2022

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
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