The Darkest of Secrets
I’m a big fan of exotic settings, and a private Mediterranean island seemed perfect. Combine that with the fact that I gave a B to an earlier book by the author and The Darkest of Secrets seemed like a surefire winner. Unfortunately, while I find the broad outlines of the plot interesting, with an art expert heroine and a secret stash of stolen art, the execution of the plot didn’t work and I cannot recommend this.
Khalis Tannous walked away from his father and the corrupt family business when he was 21 and hasn’t looked back. But when he receives word that his father and brother died in a helicopter crash he returns to the now empty family compound on an isolated Mediterranean island to take over the family business.
Soon after Khalis arrives on the island he discovers a secret vault in his father’s home filled with priceless art. His father was suspected by art experts as being behind many major art thefts around the world, and Khalis now seems to have the proof. But Khalis, the owner of an IT firm in California, is no art expert so calls on a firm of art appraisers, and Grace Turner is sent to appraise the collection.
Khalis is attracted to Grace as soon as she arrives on the island. While Grace feels an attraction, she fights it. She doesn’t trust men, especially wealthy men. Grace is hiding a major secret about her past and has no intention of ever enjoying herself again. Grace’s boss knows her secret and comments that Grace has lived like a nun or a church mouse for the last four years since “it” happened.
I was interested in the plot, but completely frustrated by the writing. There would be a sentence of dialog furthering the plot about the paintings. Then we would have several sentences of Khalis thinking about how he wants to touch, kiss, or do something else to Grace. How fascinated he is by her, how attracted he is by her and her eyes and face and….well, you get the idea. Then we’d have another sentence of dialog followed by a paragraph of Grace’s thoughts about how she can’t trust men, how Khalis is probably like her ex-husband, ad nauseam.
The big reveal about all of Grace’s secrets was a major disappointment. First, while at least one of her secrets was quite interesting, I still think she should have revealed it early on to Khalis. And even worse was Khalis’ reaction to the reveal. In addition to being mad that she’d kept secrets from him, he found the secret unforgivable. I had some hopes for Khalis until that point, but his reaction was unacceptable. I also find Grace unsympathetic; her acceptance of her past and the life she’s led the last four years makes her extremely weak, and not the type of woman I want for a heroine.
When I finished reading this I went back and read my review of the author’s 2011 release, The Matchmaker Bride to make certain this was written by the same person. It still seems hard to believe; I found her earlier book light and enjoyable and liked both the hero and heroine. In contrast, I dislike both Grace and Khalis, and found the plot disappointing.