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Secrets Paperback – Nov 23 2009
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'Secrets will make you smile, sigh and cheer as this story proves love can be found in the most unexpected places' Sunday Express '...another surefire hit for Freya' Heat 'This quirky novel is a lively holiday read' Star Magazine 'A fab read' Closer
About the Author
Freya North gave up a PhD to write her first novel, Sally, in 1991. In 1995 she sent three chapters and a page of completely fabricated reviews to literary agents, and met with success: five publishers entered a bidding war for her books. In 1996 Sally was published to great acclaim and Freya was heralded as a fresh voice in fiction. Her next books, Chloe, Polly, Cat, Fen and Pip, were all bestsellers. Freya lives in London with her family.
Top Customer Reviews
At times I felt this novel bore too much resemblance to a Harlequin, with a predictable story and oddly descriptive sex scenes, but there was a huge Brit Lit feel to it which helped ease my trepidation.
I found this to be a really long read and much of it took place in the characters heads which was annoying because I wanted more action instead of them droning on and on. I laughed out loud once and don`t want to give too much away, but it had to do with the spunky ladies at the home in the latter half of the novel. I really laughed hard which I appreciated.
Overall, it was not a terrible read, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Tess and Em Adams have run away from London and moved North to house sit for Joe Saunders. Joe wasn't really looking to hire Tess, but she takes the job over the phone and they meet the next day. Tess is 30, Em is 2, and Joe is in his 40s. Right off the bat, each is surprised because Tess didn't say anything about a child, while Joe never mentioned Wolf, his dog. And Joe knows Tess is not your regular house sitter because he's had them in from the agency before and Tess is set on making his house a home for her and Em.
Joe is not relationship kind of guy. He's a bridge builder and has a woman in every city. Tess is attracted to Joe, but she's afraid to make a move or give him a sign. She's not sure he wants her or not.
The title of the book is Secrets, and while yes they each have their own secrets, they really aren't secrets of the Earth shattering, or life shattering type. But I didn't feel too let down by that, because even when Joe and Tess were getting it together, they still kept secrets from each other.
I've read all of Freya North's previous books, and I enjoyed Secrets. She's done a great job at writing her characters and making them lovable and you can understand them to some extent. The setting by the sea is lovely and her descriptions of the house, bridges, and the town are very picturesque and vivid. I was impressed by the amount of detail she put into the book. She has another book coming out this year and I am eagerly looking forward to it. Ms.North is one author who's books have only improved with time and one whose books should not be skipped.
Tess is in trouble - big trouble. We find her hiding with her daughter at the beginning of the novel although we have no idea why. Tess is looking for a way out so when she finds an ad in the paper about a job as a house sitter she jumps at the chance. She phones up the owner and doesn't really give him a chance to say much before he finds that she's telling him that she's driving up to his place right away. He's thinking he's got a real nut on his hands until he opens his door to Tess and baby Em.
Joe doesn't know why but he ends up letting Tess stay. She's nutty and a little odd and she just seems to take over. Even stranger is she has showed up with nothing. Most house sitters he's had come with almost everything except the kitchen sink. Tess keeps asking if she can use his stuff. He has to admit though that she seems to make a house come alive. On his first trip away Tess starts her overhaul of his place and when he comes back he has to secretly admit to himself that he kind of likes it. She's made this house of his into a home again.
I liked Tess. She was funny and I enjoyed the exchanges between her and Joe and especially all the new British words I learned. Joe on the other hand irritated me with his playboy ways but by the end of the book I warmed up to him. He was a man who had no intentions of becoming serious with anyone and especially someone like Tess but hey, who has any power over love most of the time? To be truthful, this is a slow book. Will you find anything earth shattering in its pages - no, but you will find a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon curled up in your favorite chair. It's like taking a look into the everyday life of two people and it worked for me. I loved that slow pace and the eventual revealing of the all important secrets that both Tess and Joe kept. I also loved the setting of Secrets- a seaside town that I would love to live in!
First off, this story was a great story. There was great character development, great analogies, and great romance. If everything was so "great" why am I only giving it 3 stars? Well, a few reasons really.
Firstly, everything was so drawn out. Yes, it did help with the grounding of the characters and the changes in their emotions, but oh it just took forever for anything to ever happen. It kinda sapped any enjoyment I had out of the story because EVERYTHING took too long. I felt like I was reading a 900 page book.
Secondly, the book was written in a "stream of conscience" type of way where we are privy to the characters (and I mean ALL the characters) complete thought process. I'm not a big fan of this type of narrative. This is completely personal and subjective, but there you go. This narrative style also lead to the feeling of everything being drawn out.
Thirdly, I had a few issues with Joe. He is a 44 year-old man who builds bridges for a living, which requires him to travel and work from different locations all the time. But, he has a woman stashed in each city. Now, these women aren't "kept" by him, nor do they expect commitment from him, but he shacks up with them whenever he is in their town. Now, it's not really this I had a problem with. The problem I had was that once he got into Tess' bed, he kept up with this behavior. He even talked to himself that he was a creature of habit, which is why he's now shagging another lady he has no real interest in; but Tess better not be talking to that Seb guy who came around last week asking for her. Nope, he can get his jollies off with some skank in France but she better be keeping house. Okay, so it wasn't really as bad as that, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. It smacked me of betrayal, of cheating, and of deceit--Especially because he made it seem, led Tess to believe, that all the other woman were no longer a concern...yet he goes a whoring as soon as he's gone.
Usually, I'm not one for romance stories involving single parents of young children. I'm not sure why. However, Ms. Freya did such a great job in including little Miss Emmaline that she didn't detract or derail the story or romance. Also, I loved how Tess had her friends and interests and helped define her.
SECRETS was a nice contemporary chick-lit romance about how secrets can affect how you perceive life and keep true relationships from forming. A lot of bridge analogies were used, as Joe loves and builds bridges. This story is about the bridge Joe and Tess build to span their lives into a solid relationship together.
Tess and Joe work out her work schedule and Tess settles into a routine. She works on the house, meets the locals, and starts to develop an attraction to Joe. Joe on the other hand, has a girl in every port where he goes to work. He starts to find comfort in having Tess at home for him when he returns, but he is not ready to give up his life and freedom. There are other forces at work in the relationship; both have secrets that will cause problems.
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see Tess become part of the Saltburn community and become less fearful about her life. She builds a whole new life for herself and her daughter that may or may not be permanent. Her secret is always there ready to come out but the reader likes Tess and hopes it is something that can be resolved. Joe is a nice guy who sometimes behaves selfishly, especially when he starts to have feeling for Tess but continues his freewheeling ways. His secret comes out earlier and doesn't add to the nice column but there is a twist that is revealed later. Both Tess and Joe have to put the past behind them and work towards happiness. The telling of the routines of their lives helps us understand them and what their issues are. Loved the book, loved the ending
The opening of the book caught my attention and from there, I knew I would have no problem reading to the very last page. I needed to know what was going on and I wanted everything to work out for these mysterious characters! They were well written, believable and easy to empathise with. Tess, while admittedly silly and impulsive, was a fun character and I found it easy to like her. Joe definitely took some getting used to and I still don't think he's the nicest guy around but I grew to accept the way he was and his nice side completely shone by the end!
Was Secrets amazing? Not really, but it was very good. It had one or two things that bugged for. I think it was dragged out too much and could have been condensed down by at least a hundred pages. I also really wasn't feeling the relationship between Tess and her daughter. It felt like Em wasn't really there most of the time and Tess didn't really seem to engage with her. Other than those two things, I thought it was an immensely enjoyable book and at no point was I bored or contemplating stopping.
Secrets is certainly worthy of four stars and I am eager to read more of Freya North's work in the future as I do think she has talent.