Review of The Book Of Secrets

The Book Of Secrets  was certainly an interesting read.   It took me a while to get used to the book jumping back and forth from the past to the present back to the past again,  but once I had the hang of this I was able to enjoy the story.   The main character,  Chloe Sinclair,  has a seemingly perfect life on the outside.   Pretty much straight away we find that Chloe’s life is far from perfect,  her husband  Nate has disappeared leaving Chloe a cryptic message and no clue as to when he might be back.   Searching for answers Chloe discovers that Nate has left his mobile phone behind as well as not having ordered something for an important customer.   Chloe discovers that their business is not doing so well and to honour the purchase for their client  she’s going to have  to purchase the item he requires and pay for it using her credit card.  Chloe does not understand the business account system that they have on the bookstore’s  computer,  she contacts their friend Daniel it was only too happy to come over and help her.   We discover that Chloe and Daniel have had a sort of fling,  Chloe feels immensely guilty about this but she knows that Daniel is only too willing to be there for her.   Chloe does not feel right about having Daniel round while Nate is away despite the fact that she has had this fling with him. Choosing to try and sort her own problems out Chloe sends Daniel away and begin searching for clues as to why Nate would return to his family home where his father is after what his father has done.

 

As Chloe searching for clues as to why Nate would have returned home she uncovers a secret notebook that contains messages to somebody and written in secret  code. Racking her brains Chloe remembers the secret code  that her and Nate used as children, along with Nate’s two sisters. Cecilia and Grace.   The book then delves into the past of Chloe and the Sinclair children, dealing with how they met  Nate and how Chloe was inextricably drawn to them. Chloe is enchanted by the Sinclair children and their mother. She spends as much of her time with them as possible, but always having to leave before Mr Sinclair comes home We discover that the perfect life that the sink Chloe imagines the Sinclair’s have is less than perfect due to Mr Sinclair’s actions. Throughout the book we are left guessing as to what those actions actually are, the way that the narrative describes Mr Sinclair and his treatment of his children we are left in no doubt that some form of abuse is taking place. When Mr Sinclair finally does meet Chloe he sends her away and she is unable to see her friends for several days. But they all find a way to be together again, learning how to hide their meetings with Chloe at their home.

 

As the years pass Chloe and Nate become really close, more than just friends, but it takes them awhile to understand what their new found feelings actually mean.  Throughout  the time that Chloe had spent with the Sinclair’s it had become apparent that Mrs Sinclair was ill. When Chloe reaches the age of 17  Mrs Sinclair’s condition deteriorates and Chloe was unable to see her as she ends up in the hospital and nobody dares allow Chloe access to her  for fear Mr Sinclair will find out. Shortly afterwards Mrs Sinclair dies and upon her death Mr Sinclair sinks to a whole new level of extremely controlling behaviour. This only serves to bring Chloe and Nate closer together, but at the same time Grace is fighting her own personal demons  and Chloe and Nate  devise a plan to get her away from Mr Sinclair. Mr Sinclair discovers Chloe and  Nate meeting in secret on the outskirts of their garden, and once again he forbids his son from having anything to do with Chloe. But Nate is not having any of that and they meet in secret by the stream that runs a little way behind their house.   It is during this time that Chloe and Nate become intimate that soon afterwards Nate fakes his own suicide in order to get away from his father.  With Grace already gone to a convent Nate is worried about Cecilia and so he makes arrangements for her to stay with Chloe and her mother whilst he finds somewhere for them all to live, far away from Redbridge and Mr. Sinclair.  Cecilia goes back to her father, believing he won’t dare harm her.  It is during this time that Chloe discovers she is pregnant.  She sets off with her mother to find Nate and bring him back home.  Nate returns home and confronts his father but his father is still hellbent on keeping Chloe away from his children and devises a plan to keep them apart for a further 5 years.  Bizarrely, Nate agrees to the conditions his father lays down and Chloe spends most of her pregnancy alone.  Nate returns home for the birth of their son, Gabriel, but Chloe is angry at him and ends up pushing him away.

For the next 2 years Gabriel is kept a secret from Nate’s sisters and the rest of the community, people believe Chloe has had a brief fling with someone else and she got pregnant by him.  Chloe struggles to keep to the terms of Mr. Sinclair’s conditions, keeping away from her beloved friends Cecilia and Grace and not letting them meet their nephew, but when she discovers Cecilia is to marry she devises a plan to take Gabriel to the church and introduce him to everyone after the ceremony.  However, she is so enchanted by what Mr. Sinclair says to his daughter during her wedding ceremony about his love for Mrs. Sinclair that she cannot spoil Cecilia’s big day.  Deciding to leave the church undetected she quietly moves past the guests who are moving towards the wedding party, but Grace has seen her and Gabriel and her shock is written all over her face.  Grace seeks Chloe out the following day and confronts her about the lies that have been told by all of them.  After she speaks with her brother and they confront their father it is decided that grace can no longer live with him and plans are made to start afresh somewhere new.  Nate also decides that he is no longer going to adhere to his father’s ludicrous plan and he proposes to Chloe.    But the happy ever after does not happen.  Gabriel goes missing and Mr. Sinclair gets arrested for the murder of his Grandson, after evidence is found at his church.

With Grace away and Cecilia married, Chloe and Nate eventually marry and spend their lives in their bookstore.  Their relationship has always had a tension to it that stems back to the early days of their relationship where Nate was absent for much of the time.  When Nate goes back home to see his father, upon his release from jail, Chloe cannot understand why he can even bear to be anywhere near the man that murdered their son.  Something is niggling away at her though, Nate has kept things from her throughout their marriage, things she discovers as she goes through his secret notebook.

So far into this story I knew it was too obvious that Mr. Sinclair murdered his Grandson.  When I found out what had actually happened to Gabriel at the end I was left wondering how Chloe had never suspected the truth, but the author cleverly blinds Chloe to the truth by her hatred for Mr. Sinclair.  Towards the end of the book Cecilia and Nate talk of how they are finding they can forgive their father , and at first I was appalled by this.  It was only when they went into a detailed explanation about their father that you realise that most of the narrative surrounding Mr. Sinclair has come from Chloe’s point of view and is so wrapped up in her hatred towards him.

This book is brilliantly written and the plot is very good.  Right from the start the author engages the reader, even if, like me, you get a little confused with the constant back and forth from past to present to past again.  As you get further into the book you become so used to the jumping back and forth that you find it is crucial to the storyline.   The book can feel a little dark in parts, but again, that is central to the plot and all makes sense towards the end.  Gabriel’s fate, when finally revealed, is so obvious that if you had not already got it you will find you did know all along when it is revealed, it is obvious but not blindingly so.

 

Highly recommended and probably one of the best books I have read in a while.

***** 5 stars.

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Review Of Quality Candy

 
When I first started reading this book I was not sure I was going to enjoy it.  The reviews rated it poor and whilst that is not always the best indicator, in my opinion, as to whether a book is any good or not so I did wonder if the book was going to be any good. I have to admit this book was not the best book I have read but it certainly was not as bad as some of the reviews have made it out to be.  The book is slow in some places and you do sometimes get a sense of not knowing where the storyline is headed, but that in itself is not a bad thing.  
Personally I did not really warm to Candace to start with, although I did warm to her love interest, Ryan.  I spent the most part of the book feeling sorry for him, wondering how Candace could treat him so badly.  As the story progressed I found I actually understood what Candace was going through and realised the reason I had felt animosity towards her was more to do with stuff in my own private life than to do with the character in this book.
 
Candace is very broken emotionally and the story charts her battle to gain some normalcy into her life.   The story has a poignancy to it that makes you root for Candace and Ryan, hoping they get their happy ever after.  It’s wonderful when she realises that life can be good and life with a man isn’t all hearts and flowers, nor is every man going to abandon you.
 
I found towards the end of this book that I did enjoy reading it after all.  It  wasn’t the best I have ever read, but it certainly is not the worst either.  I think sometimes readers do not want to delve into books that are all about struggles in a person’s love life, it seems too messy or uncomfortable and maybe we might find something familiar in our own lives that we would much rather not confront.  This book is most certainly geared towards those who are fans of the romantic fiction genre.
 
4 stars ****

Review Of Head Over Heels

Magee Sinclair works for the family advertising agency and is set to take over the helm once her father retires.  Recently though, she just cannot get anything right.  Desperate to prove she is not a screw up she is relieved when she lands a contract, a contract she believes will save her career.  There is only one problem though, when she met with Justin Kane, the owner of a bike shop.  Justin hopes to expand his bike shop and Magee promised him she was the right person for the job.  But she had to tell a lie to get him to agree to use her family’s advertising agency.

What could possibly go wrong?

When Justin’s girlfriend dumps him just before the client he is trying to woo flies into the country, he finds himself turning to Magee to help him out of a bind.  After all, she has as much to lose as he does if the client does not invest in his company.  Justin needs a temporary girlfriend, a woman who told him she loved mountain biking as much as he did.

When Justin approaches Magee asking her to be his stand in girlfriend, outlining what the weekend will entail, she cannot believe that her small, white lie has come back to haunt her in such a way.  But, believing she can pull the whole pretend girlfriend gig off without anyone being any the wiser, she agrees.

This is a very fast paced read, but really enjoyable all the same.  It is not difficult keeping up with the plot.  You know its going to go wrong eventually.

Magee is a very likable character and you find yourself willing everything to work out for her and Justin, especially when Tina, Justin’s ex, turns up causing a scene and threatening to expose the lie.

An excellent read.

Recommended.

5 stars *****

Review of A Bad Boy Is Good To Find

New York heiress Lizzie Hathaway is not quite the media babe you might expect her to be, she is anything but.  This does not bother her though, she thinks she is the luckiest woman alive as she has found her dream man in Conroy Beale, a man she believes is every bit as rich as she is.  Conroy makes her feel good about herself, she isn’t exactly the typical heiress type and is lacking in confidence when it comes to her appearance and personal life.  That Conroy chose her has her walking on cloud nine, and when he proposes to her she feels like the luckiest woman alive.

  But then her whole world comes crashing down around her in spectacular style.  Her father is arrested for fraud after he has embezzled all of Lizzie’s inheritance and then she finds out that Conroy is not the man he claims to be.  Lizzie is devastated, firstly she has to endure the very public scandal surrounding her father and then she discovers that Conroy is not the rich tycoon he told her he was, instead he is a mechanic with no money.  Believing that Conroy does not really love her, and that all he was truly after was her money, Lizzie spirals out of control.

  But Conroy truly does love her and now he must prove that he is not just out for what he get out of her.  In order to this he kidnaps Lizzie and then allows himself to be dragged back to the Bayou where he hails from.  Lizzie believes she has conned Conroy into marrying her – exclusively filmed by her scheming cousin who works for a TV company.  What she does not bank on are her growing feelings for the man she believes has duped her.

Loved this book!

 From the moment I began reading this book I was totally hooked.  I loved the characters, the plot and the ending was fantastic.  I loved the concept, loved how the guy was poor for a change.  I loved how everything went belly up and the woman acted bad and the guy was the one trying to put everything right.

Excellent read!
 
I would definitely recommend this book.
 
5 stars *****

Review Of A Faded Cottage

Review of A Faded Cottage.

Quaid Witherspoon’s life is turned upside down when he becomes ill and is unable to continue with his painting. Quaid is a very rich man and has always had everything that money can buy. One summer, during his teens, he met Sandy and fell fast and hard for her, but his family were less than impressed with his choice of girlfriend. Like the dutiful son Quiad did as his parents bid and married a dutiful, rich girl more suited to their lifestyle than someone like Sandy.

Fast forward thirty years and Quaid has returned to the place where he and Sandy first met. He is living a quiet life now, away from prying eyes, out of the public eye where he can avoid the pitying stares of his many fans, friends and family, along with the media and general public. Quaid is a critically acclaimed artist but since his illness he has not been able to hold a paint brush. He cannot stand the pity he receives from others so he goes away to Hathaway Cove to avoid the public eye.

The story centres around two weeks of Quaid’s life; the two weeks around Christmas time. Sandy turns up and their relationship springs back to life, much to the delight of Quaid. But Sandy is hiding something from him, a secret she fears will take him away from her again.

When I first started reading this book I actually thought I was not going to enjoy the story. It took me a little while to get into it, but then I found I was enjoying the story and became easily engrossed in it. Towards the end of the book I felt the story became rushed, and I did not enjoy that. For me, it spoilt the story somewhat; given that the story had romantic overtones I felt leaving the reader guessing would have been a much nicer ending, rather than the methodical tidying up of loose ends.

Overall the story was slow to start and the ending was less than satisfactory, in my opinion. That said, the main bulk of the story was well written and a pretty good read.

3 stars ***

 

Review Of Bristol House

 Annie Kendall is a recovering alcoholic who has come to London, from the USA to revive her career. Annie is an architectural historian and the Shalom Foundation, headed by Philip ~Weinraub, has head-hunted her to work for them. The brief is to locate several pieces of Judaica – historical items significant to the Jewish faith – rumoured to have been gifted by a mystery man known as the Jew Of Holborn. Annie isn’t certain that such a figure actually existed, he was said to be around during Henry VIII’s reign and as this was a particularly unsettled religious time, especially for Jews, it seems unlikely that such a man would have been open about his beliefs, let alone lavish the religious artefacts upon the chosen people.

But Annie is keen to reignite her career and what better way than to prove that the Jew Of Holborn is more than a myth but also to find his missing treasures. Her flight and accommodation are arranged by the Shalom Foundation, she is to stay in an appartment in Bristol House for the duration of her trip. The owner is going away for a while and her niece, in the employ of the Shalom Foundation, arranges for her to rent the appartment whilst her Aunt is away. Before she takes possession of the appartment she is instructed by the owner to take an inventory of the furniture and items of art etc that are in the flat. It is while she is doing this that she encounters a monk. The puzzling fact is that he is a Carthusian monk and definitely not from this era.

At first Annie is a little spooked by these events but pretty soon she finds herself engrossed in her research which accidentally introduces her to Geoff Harris, a TV celebrity, renowned for his investigative journalism and his current affairs show. Of course Annie has no idea who he is but she warms to him immediately.

Throughout the book we are subjected to Annie’s history, her remorse for her actions in the past, her enthusiasm for her research and her keen sense of something not being right about the whole gig she has signed herself up to. With the help of Geoff and his mother and her friend they uncover some startling revelations about the Tudor past and th Jew Of Holborn, with a link to the present day. They also uncover a plot by Philip Weinraub to wreak havoc within the Catholic church and right in the midst of Rome itself.

The book is a pleasant read, plenty of action and suspense to keep the reader hooked from start to finsih. The suspense at the end of the book is quite thrilling, ensuring the reader stays with the story right until the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone. It has something for everyone, from mystery to romance and loads of history thrown into the mix too.

My rating for the Bristol House is 5 stars *****

Excellent!!!