January 25, 2020 03:53 PM Posted by juliannadouglas
During December, I read four full-length novels and four novellas and short stories. All but one of the novels received four stars or higher from me, including two five-star reads, but one stood out a little above the other one as my favorite read of the month. It was a story by my favorite romantic suspense author who I haven’t yet featured in my Book of the Month. This author usually writes pretty chunky books, but this one was one of her shorter works that is probably in the range of a long novella/short novel. I wondered how she would handle this shorter format, and as it turns out, the answer is extremely well. It’s the story of two people who were very good friends in high school, but who drifted apart and lost touch over the years. Then while the heroine is cleaning out her dead husband’s belongings, she runs across an old high school yearbook in which she finds a love letter written to her by her friend. She’d never read it before and feels badly for leaving him hanging all these years, so she looks him up. They reconnect and fall in love while evading a killer who is murdering his graduate students.
Emma is a psychologist specializing in grief counseling who wrote a best-selling self-help book that propelled her into celebrity status. A year ago, she lost her husband to a senseless act of violence and has been struggling ever since to put his memory to rest. She has mostly stayed on the road, traveling to promote her book and has been avoiding going home until her best friend forces the issue. Cleaning out her husband’s things, she finally begins to find peace. Then she discovers a love letter stuck between the pages of an old yearbook written to her by one of her best friends in high school. Emma had felt a spark pass between them when they’d danced together back then, but when Christopher later became distant, she’d always wondered why. Now reading the note for the first time, she realizes it was probably because she’d never acknowledged his declaration of love. Feeling badly about it, she hires a private investigator to find him to apologize, and when she sees him again, she finds that spark is still there. But someone is killing off his grad students, and Christopher and those he loves could be next. Emma was very relatable in her grief. Even though it’s something she specializes in, it’s been hard for her to process. However, when love finds her again, she’s willing to open her heart to new possibilities. She’s also very accepting of Christoper’s daughter, Megan, even when the girl is being difficult about Emma and Christoper's burgeoning relationship. Not to mention, she’s very strong in dealing with a crisis and with keeping Megan safe when the killer comes calling.
Christopher is a chemistry professor who’s working on an innovative new technology for testing soil samples and who is a divorced, single father. When he receives a call from the private investigator, he wonders what Emma might want after all these years. She comes to visit him and they share a lovely date. Seeing her again makes him realize he’s never quite gotten over her even after all these years, and he’s thrilled to discover that she feels something for him, too. But only a few days before Emma showed up, Christopher had found one of his grad students dead in the lab of an apparent accidental poisoning. However, the young man’s death is starting to look more and more like murder, and Christoper can’t quite figure out why someone would kill over a bunch of dirt samples. Christopher is a wonderful hero who fearlessly jumps in with both feet when he reconnects with Emma. He’s a man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it, while also respecting Emma’s boundaries and giving her time to catch up emotionally. He’s also an incredible father to Megan, always there for her as a hands-on dad even while working a demanding job at the university.
This book was an excellent read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The mystery/suspense portion was well-done, and although there weren’t as many red herrings, probably due to the shorter nature of the story, which made it a little easier to figure out the mystery, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. If anything, I thought it was a bit more romantic than some of the author’s longer books. I felt a palpable emotional connection between Christopher and Emma from the moment they saw each other again, and the way they came back together after so many years apart was sweet. This story was an absolute perfect read for me with everything I look for in a romance. That’s why I’m naming Karen Rose’s Dirty Secrets as my December Book of the Month. If you enjoy romantic suspense with an intelligent hero and heroine, helping to solve a mystery, and a romance that’s sweet, emotional, and passionate, then you should definitely give this book a try. Keep reading to learn how you can win a copy for your own library.
“Karen Rose writes hold-your-breath suspense” (Karen Robards) and in this breathtaking novella she’s at her seductive best as an unexpected reunion between two friends ignites the dangerous impulses in a secret enemy…
For Chris, now a college professor, seeing Emma again has brought back a flood of memories, rekindling a passion he thought was long gone. But in the shadows, someone is watching Emma and Chris, someone nursing revenge, and plunging Emma into a nightmare where no one can be trusted and every dirty little secret is sealed with a kiss.
Read my complete review of Dirty Secrets.
If you would like to win a copy of Dirty Secrets to see how wonderful it is for yourself, just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Since it’s currently only available as an ebook, one lucky winner will receive an eBook copy of this novella, which I will gift to them via the eBook retailer of their choice (Amazon or B & N). Good luck!
International Entrants: You are welcome to enter my contest, but please note that not all eBooks are available in all countries due to copyright restrictions. If this is the case, Amazon does offer an option to trade for a gift card (I'm not sure about B & N).
Tags: Karen Rose