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review 2018-10-15 17:40
Thoughts: Secret Admirer
Secret Admirer - Cynthia Eden

Secret Admirer

by Cynthia Eden


For some strange reason, I dropped another book from the 'Romantic Suspense' Halloween Bingo square and replaced it with Secret Admirer.  I don't know why, but I guess I was hoping that I'd find another Cynthia Eden novel I'd come to really like.  I suppose I would be more disappointed if I hadn't then decided to shuffle the initial book I'd considered reading onto a different Bingo square.

But that's a moot point.

I'm actually rambling because I needed a couple paragraphs to start off this post.  Secret Admirer has a summary blurb that is six paragraphs long, and sort of just takes you in circles, repeating itself a couple times.  So I needed a lead-in to basically tell everyone that here is my own half-assed summary of the book.


The Story
Alice May's fiancé, Hugh, died on their wedding day... the same day that she found out he was the infamous Secret Admirer, a serial killer who had murdered five other women, all who looked eerily similar to Alice in appearance.  A year later, Alice has left her home and is trying to start her life over, away from the stigma of having been engaged to a monster.

Along comes Zander Todd, a neighbor in a nearby cabin who has been helping her out whenever something in her home breaks.  What Alice doesn't know is that Zander is an FBI agent, assigned to get close to her and find out what she knows or might know about her deceased fiancé.  Because another murder has recently occurred, in the same fashion as the Secret Admirer killings from a year previous, and the FBI think that Alice might have had more to do with those killings than she'd admitted to.  That maybe she had participated and is picking up where her fiancé left off.

But as Zander and Alice begin to form a closer, more intimate bond, it seems that the real killer has set his sights on Alice now.  And so in order to keep her safe, Zander will have to admit his reasons for getting close to Alice in the first place, no matter that his intentions are no longer just part of his undercover act.


My Thoughts
There were two factors working against this book.

First of all, Cynthia Eden has already written this story once before in Die For Me - A Novel of the Valentine Killer.  Secret Admirer is essentially the same story with a different twist, but a lot of similar scenes.  Even one of the surprise twists in the end was pretty, unapologetically similar.  There were a few differences, such as the killer's media dubbed name, or how our hero and heroine meet.  But some other factors, such as the description of how the 'Secret Admirer' killed his victims, or staged their bodies seemed to echo the 'Valentine Killer.'  I couldn't get past how similar both books were.

Second of all, this book felt rushed.  Even if I had read this one before Die For Me, I probably would have found it mediocre at best because of how abrupt and over-dramatic it was written.  The romance was rushed and the ending resolution was rushed.  The conclusion was pretty predictable and I felt like our killer pretty much walked in with neon signs pointing at him--he was hard to miss.

Simply put, if more thought had been put into this book, like maybe giving us a better look at how our hero and heroine bonded for the past couple months before slinging the "I love you's" around, or even giving me a reason why our heroine, Alice, would so easily trust another man again after what she'd gone through with her fiance, I probably would have been a bit more accepting.  Simply citing that Zander is "just different" doesn't really cut it for me.  In essence, we were told that the two got to know each other over a course of two months, but we don't get to see any of that--only those first chapters where Zander flirts with Alice, promises that he's not out to hurt her, then she just automatically trusts him, and then they jump into bed together.

I wanted more from them than that, honestly.

On a side note, I will openly admit to being a fan of Jayne Ann Krentz and Jill Shalvis, two authors who's books are pretty much the same formulaic romances over and over again.  It sounds like I'm being contradictory, but in the case of JAK or Shalvis, I always come back to their books because they are charming and attractive in spite of their ever recycled material.

It's unfortunate that aside from being an echo of Die For Me, Secret Admirer was also not actually written all that well.  If it had been, I might have just mentioned the similarities briefly, and then moved onto talking about other parts of the book.  I have a pretty high tolerance for things like this.

Die For Me wasn't even really one of my favorite Cynthia Eden novels, truth be told, and I had found the heroine pretty depressing.  So this makes Secret Admirer doubly frustrating, because it just echoes a book I'd already read before, but didn't really care too much for, and doesn't improve on it.  Alice is no different from the heroine of Die For Me, so by default, that makes Die For Me the better novel because it was a bit more fleshed out than Secret Admirer, which is a disappointing, really.  I've been looking for another great Cynthia Eden book ever since her Deadly trio, which I had found very enjoyable and hard to put down--I still haven't found another Cynthia Eden work like that.

Fortunately, this book was extremely bite-sized and it didn't take long to breeze through it.

On a another side note, while writing this review, I had a moment wherein I couldn't remember the heroine's name.  Mere hours after finishing the book, and I could not conjure the heroine's name and had to go look it up.  This is how unforgettable this book is going to be to me...

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(any romance which has a significant sub-plot that involves mystery, thriller, or suspense)


Other possible squares:  New Release; Genre: Suspense; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-secret-admirer.html
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review 2018-10-15 05:23
Fever
Fractured Honor - Kaylea Cross

Beckett has had the hots for Sierra for a long time.  She is the sister to his best friend, so he never intends to act on the urge.  As a military man, and a good friend, he has kept himself away from temptation - until now.

 

Sierra has wanted Beckett for such a long time.  She knows he has started to look at her differently, but she also knows he is avoiding her as well.  Her brother's best friend is a fine specimen and she means to have him.

 

This story classifies as a slow burn.  The heat is there.  The want is there.  The mutual feelings are there.  I loved the characters loyalty.  I loved how clear the feelings and worries came across.  Good sold story and a great read.  I give book a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by Netgalley and its publisher.

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review 2018-10-11 19:40
A Solid Three
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

I dithered about the rating and thought about giving this book four stars. However, the romance between Tory and Cade didn't sit right with me (at least the initial stages of it--I can't take it in romance novels when the dude bullies the heroine into being with him) probably cause of the insta-lust on his side of things. The mystery aspect of the book was interesting, though how Roberts tried to work in Tory's ability to "see" things didn't really work for the most part of the book for me. Probably because I have read of too many cases about faux psychics for me to be really fall into the story the way that I should have. I do wish that Tory's character had been a bit better developed. I don't know how or why she got interested in selling high end jewelry and other items. Also Roberts skips over her New York years and she info-dumps on Cade about what happened to her there. I do think her burgeoning and then friendship with Faith was a highlight though.

 

"Carolina Moon" is a good book if you want to use it for several Halloween squares. I think this would fit "Terror in a Small Town", "Terrifying Women", "Romantic Suspense" and even "Southern Gothic." 

 

"Carolina Moon" follows Tory Bodeen. Tory ran away from her abusive father and emotionally absent mother as soon as she was able to. After something mysterious happens to her in New York that has her running from there, Tory returns to her hometown of Progress, South Carolina after a few years of building up her savings and working.  

 

Returning to Progress is an issue for Tory though. When she was 8 years old, her best friend, Hope Lavelle was found raped and murdered. Many people in town believe that Tory left Hope to her fate in order to get away from the man that ultimately killed her. Very few know that Tory has an ability to see visions of people and knew when Hope was being killed. Now that Tory is back in Progress, the murderer is intent on making sure that Tory will not be able to name them. On top of that, Tory starts a relationship with Hope's older brother, Cade.

 

As I said above, Tory as a character doesn't have a lot of there there until the middle and end of the book. We hear about how her father abused her. How her mother stood by and did nothing. We also know that she has a caring grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousin. Besides Tory interacting with her grandmother and uncle though, it seems as if she is pretty adrift. When you read about what happened to her as a young girl and then when she went to New York though I sympathized. I just wish that she had more of a backbone when dealing with Cade. 


Speaking of Cade, I felt uneasy with the romance in this one. Maybe because the character bullies Tory into going out with him and then gets angry if she doesn't tell her what she is thinking and feeling all the time. Him going around calling her his woman made me roll my eyes too. I saw shades of Roarke in this character so maybe that's why he read as familiar to me while I was reading. And just like Tory, his character doesn't become more interesting until about the halfway point. You find out just how cold his family (specifically his mother was) was and is and how he had to go about proving himself constantly. His showdown with his mother was really good and I am surprised Roberts didn't try to have them fall into each other's arms and love each other. It was more realistic with how she wrote it. The romance scenes between him and Tory read similar to Eve and Roarke a few times. 


Faith and Wade are the second couple in this book and a few times I thought it would have worked better if they were our main couple. Faith doesn't put up with a lot from people, but she loves her brother. It was interesting to see how her life was affected by her twin sister's death and knowing her mother wished it had been her that died. Cade and Faith had some hot romance scenes, but not too many which would have gotten boring. 

 

There are secondary characters in this one, we have the local sheriff, the town mayor, Tory's uncle and aunt, her grandmother, Cade's mother, etc. Roberts does a good job drawing them out little by little, I just wish that we had gotten a better ending with this one. An epilogue would have worked nicely. 

 

The writing was typical Roberts. This was written back in 2000 though and at times the book appears dated. Roberts talks about two characters with one being a Republican and Democrat and it's quaint to see them as having fiery debates, but who are really good friends. Oh the days before Obama came along and divided the country (said sarcastically I just got into that the other day with someone who says Obama was a worse divider than Trump since we didn't have these problems in this country until he was elected). I did laugh at another line about something being as likely as being a liberal Republican. 

 

I also think that showing that the family housekeeper Lilah was essentially the real mother of Faith and Cade didn't sit well with me. Way too mammyish for me. She also has a little dialogue with Faith at one point about the murder girl allowing the man that rapes and murders her and it definitely sounded a bit victim blaming to me.

 

“Letting a man into your house doesn’t mean you want him to rape you.”

“Didn’t say so.” Lilah colored her lips, rubbed them together.

“Just saying a woman’s got to be careful. You open a door for a man, you better be ready to boot his ass right back out again.”

Or how about men don't come to a woman's house and rape them. 


The flow was uneven at first, but improves towards the end. Once the murderer starts killing and raping again the book turns fully into more a suspense book though.

 

As I already said, the ending wasn't what I think we should have ended with. It was quite abrupt and I felt like I was missing a few pages. 

 

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text 2018-10-10 21:20
Reading progress update: I've read 10%.
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

Strong beginning. We have Tory Bodeen who returns to her hometown (Progress, South Carolina) meaning to have a store that sells artisan crafts. Tory has dealt with a religious mother and an abusive father. She still manages to to want more though due to the influence of her grandmother. We find out quickly though that Tory has visions and has an ability to read/figure out where objects are. Her father called her an evil thing and tried to beat them out of her. Her young friend Hope is found murdered when they were young and Tori still dreams of her. Now that she has returned to Progress a lot of people seem to want her to move on rather quickly. 

 

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text 2018-10-08 19:32
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

Hold.

 

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