Guilty Secrets, by Laura Leone

>> Friday, February 03, 2006

In January, I only barely managed to keep with my only reading resolution for this year: to read at least two books each month that have been in my TBR for over 3 years. I read the first one that fit that criterium early in the month, Closer Than She Thinks, by Meryl Sawyer, but I left the second one *very* late! And I'm afraid I kind of cheated. Guilty Secrets, by Laura Leone didn't spend so long in my TBR because I lost interest in it (not the letter of the law, but its spirit), but because I really like this author and I wanted to pace myself with her books.


Leah McCargar had almost believed sexy Adam Jordan was making a pass at her when he'd barged into her bedroom and taken her into his arms. But then she'd realized he was half asleep! Leah was perversely disappointed -but she was also a bit relieved. There was something mysterious about her aunt's literary collaborator. He acted like a man with something to hide...

Adam's actions were hardly premeditated -he hadn't even been able to enjoy them! But though the pretty Ms. McCargar piqued his masculine interest, his common sense reminded him to keep his distance. Because Leah was as brainy as she was beautiful -and she was smart enough to figure out that Adam Jordan was not at all what he seemed!
Eh. Guilty Secrets was promising, and had quite a few elements I enjoyed, but unfortunately, an initially very judgemental heroine and a romance that didn't really completely gel meant that the promise wasn't fulfilled. A C.

First things first: the person who wrote that back-cover blurb I quoted above must have read only the first few pages of the book. Or, which is just as probably, they decided to open the book at random and just describe one scene -any scene!-, no matter how irrelevant it was. Because that scene described there does happen (Adam does walk into Leah's room, half asleep, as she's fighting to get up from a deflated water bed), but the whole thing only takes a couple of pages and has absolutely no relevance to the rest of the book! Ah, well. Just ignore it.

When Leah McCargar arrives on a visit to her aunt Verbena's house, the situation worries her. After publishing a book which flopped because the writing was unintelligible, well-respected historian Verbena has embarked on a collaboration with a young colleague, Adam Jordan, who turns out to be the Adam Jordan who writes popular histories derided by the academic establishment.

Also a historian, Leah is worried that working with Adam will endanger her aunt's professional reputation, so she decides to do her best to discourage Verbena. But as she starts getting to know Adam, she likes him more and more.

And that's it, really. It's a simple main plot, but it's not a simple, quiet book. There's a lot going on, from Verbena's ménagerie (I just fell in love with the Questing Beast, Verbena's shy pet iguana), to a pompous professor who seems to know things about Adam, from a haunted room which needs to be exorcised to the mystery of what's going on with Leah's cousin Malcolm, While I enjoyed certain aspects of some of these secondary storylines, it did get to be too much at times.

Plus, there's Leah's attitude towards Adam, which bugged the hell out of me. She's tremendously judgemental about his work, even though she's never read it.

- "You write lurid, slushy, slick, sensationalistic-"

- "What an admirable vocabulary. And which of my books have you read to make you such an authority?"

- "I haven't read any of them and I don't intend to"
Riiight! Her open-mindedness is astounding. She reminded me quite a bit of the heroine in Ellen Fisher's All I Ever Wanted, which was pretty much ruined by such attitude from its heroine. I think what bothered me the most was that Leah could easily be one of those people who dismiss romance without every trying one.

She does realize she was wrong and more or less makes up for it by sticking up for Adam when he needs her, but to me, she never completely recovered from her initial stupidity.

The romance itself was very blah. Nice enough, after Leah wises up, but nothing too compelling. Just not one of Leone's best, I guess.


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