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Feature book: The Secret Between Them

30 September 2020

The Secret Between Them by Helen Lacey

Series: The Culhanes of Cedar River #4
Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 1 Jun 2020
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Format: ebook and print
Length: 288 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $11.99 (print)

I tore into this after reading The Nanny’s Family Wish as it follows straight on. The heroine in this book, Leah, is David’s sister from the previous book. I enjoyed her in that book so was very happy to discover she takes centre stage here.

In the last book, Leah’s father—David’s stepfather—has a sudden illness, so Leah decides to move in to care for him—which is how this book opens. In the process she also decides, encouraged by her brother, that she might get back into her art again, using a shed on the property.

Leah’s been ill-used in the past in terms of her art, and in her love life. She seems to have fallen victim to men who seem to love her art—big-scale metal sculptures, painting and pottery—but also take advantage of her. One never promoted her art when he said he would; her bank account’s been cleaned out; her art show’s been abysmally managed; one of her lovers turned out to be married. In short, poor Leah’s been used and dumped. She has lost confidence in herself, her love life, and her talent.

And yet, she is lovely. She is mostly upbeat, positive, happy as she can be, a loving daughter and sister and aunt, and wonderfully supportive to everyone in her life. A fabulous heroine you’ll love to love, vibrant and charming, and her art sounds amazing!

When she moves home, she discovers that Sean O’Sullivan, one of the rich O’Sullivans of Cedar River, has bought her dream home next door to her Dad’s. She slightly resents that. Before her bank account got cleaned out, she had designs on that house. It faces the river and really does sound absolutely divine, with heaps of land and a spectacular view. Yes please. But no, reclusive Sean O’Sullivan’s moved back from his big hot-shot music career and is holed up next door, seemingly doing nothing.

Which is kind of weird, because he really did have a big, hot-shot music promotions career, studio and everything, and a Who’s Who list of stars on his books. He has been wildly successful and made a fortune on top of the fortune the O’Sullivan family already has. He also had a Who’s Who list of tall blondes for his bed. Leah has no idea why he’s back. He seems rather grumpy and secretive, although has taken the time to be a good neighbour to her father, which she appreciates.

They meet when he comes to complain about her big dogs making themselves at home on his verandah and chewing up the legs of one of his wicker chairs. He doesn’t mind the dogs, really, but he doesn’t want to be disturbed. He prefers his boundaries to be respected. He is also concerned his privacy and quiet might be shattered as Leah moves all her art gear into the shed right next to his property wall. What a grizzle grump!

Leah, being Leah, is nice to him. And Sean, also being a hero and at heart a nice and decent person, responds. His starved soul opens to her friendliness and warmth. Not that long after, a massive secret Sean’s been nursing in his hurting heart pops out in conversation with Leah. You’ll probably guess what it is fairly quickly, but it really is a life-changer. She instantly supports him and keeps his secret, which is very difficult given all the nosy family hovering around, concerned. So not only do they become close because of that, a wild attraction blooms between these two love-starved people. But they’re going to stay friends only, right? Friends with, um, benefits? Hmm …

At times I really wanted to knock some sense into Sean—and Leah, for that matter, but mostly Sean—but these things take their own sweet time. And it’s such fun to read. Another winner, Helen Lacey!

reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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