The Sweetheart Secret
Sometimes it only takes opening a book to know that you’re not going to like it. There’s a certain sort of chemistry that seems to be missing—as though you and the author are trying to talk at the same time, each a beat off in your conversation. You have different senses of humor, you like different things, whatever the case, you know from page one that the book won’t prove too enjoyable.
That’s what I found in The Sweetheart Secret.
Colton Harper was enjoying a normal day, finishing up with the last patient at his doctor’s office in Rescue Bay, when his wife Daisy blew back into his life. Although Daisy and Colt had been married for almost fifteen years, for over fourteen of those years they thought they were divorced. Daisy, who returned to Rescue Bay in order to reopen her aunt’s B&B, decided it would be a good idea to remain married to Colt for just a little longer in hopes that having a stable relationship and a possible co-signer would make the local bank more willing to loan her money.
Colt, who is as sober and puritanical as they come, only wants to get the whirlwind that is Daisy out of his life as soon as possible. Well, he also wants to jump her bones. Actually, straight-laced Colt is rather more interested in getting his wife into bed than anything else. The fact that she seems to be everywhere does not help things. Daisy shows up at his house, at his workplace, and eventually moves in with him, because he needs someone to take care of his ailing grandfather, and Daisy is the only person who can get Grandpa Earl to smile and take his pills.
Now, The Sweetheart Secret would have been bad enough if Daisy, Colt, and Earl were the only characters. They all enjoy being overdramatic and illogical—Daisy, for instance, burst in on Colt’s appointment with his patient when she first returned to town. Then, after that outrageous display of disregard for etiquette (and the law) she left before she could extract a promise for financial backing from Colt. After that move, I was unable to respect her intelligence for the rest of the book.
Colt, too, has his moments. He is forever beating himself up for letting his younger brother die fourteen years ago while he was honeymooning with Daisy, which is part of why he’s so prim and proper now; he feels that wild behavior was what kept him from being there in his brother’s hour of need. As soon as his wife gets back into town, though, Colt loosens right up. He goes so far as to eat reheated pizza for a midnight snack with Daisy (and to do it standing up in the kitchen, which is apparently very “decadent”). Gasp!
I could go on for much longer regarding the deficiencies in Colt and Daisy’s characters, for there were many. Neither struck me as a realistic person whatsoever. But the real drama in this book doesn’t center on Colt or Daisy—it takes place at Golden Years Retirement Village, which is home to Rescue Bay’s most active busybodies. Specifically, it has to do with Greta Winslow and her ardent admirer Harold Twohig. They are eighty-three and eighty-four respectively, but that doesn’t stop either of them from poking their noses into everyone’s business. Greta fancies herself quite the matchmaker, and Harold is happy to help her (although Greta claims not to like him and protests the help). In fact, my favorite quote from the book is courtesy of those two:
What was this? A mutiny in her three-woman army? And since when did Pauline turn the tables on Greta Winslow? Greta’s face flushed and she waved off the sudden heat in the room. ‘Harold is not my…anything.’
‘I don’t know. I kinda like the term love slave.’ Harold put out his wrists. ‘Shackle me, Greta.’”
If the thought of anyone saying such a thing in public doesn’t get a laugh out of you, then I don’t know what will. Unfortunately, that’s about all I got out of this book—a number of laughs (or groans) at happenings that were far from realistic. Although I would argue that a funny book is better than a boring one, when the hilarity comes at the expense of a sense of reality it’s not a good sign.