Title: The Secret She Keeps
Series: Whitaker Island #2
Author: HelenKay Dimon
Format: Paperback/eBook, 384 pages
Publication: Dec. 30, 2019 by Avon
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
No matter where you run to…
Connor Rye seeks solace on remote Whitaker Island. When his first quiet evening ends with a blow to the head, it’s clear that nothing—and no one—is as it seems. Still haunted by his sister’s murder, he’s buried himself in work while trying to hold his family together. Now, when he has a minute to breathe, he knows better than to get involved with a stranger, but it might be too late to keep his distance.
Desire will find you...
For years she’s pretended to be someone else, but Maddie Rhine is done living in the shadows. Old habits are hard to kick however, and when her past follows her to Whitaker she’s forced to hide once more. Except with Connor. Effortlessly sexy Connor makes it difficult to ignore him. He sees right through her…and senses her fear.
Someone is watching her. And waiting for the right moment to strike. This time Connor vows to be ready.
“Leave Whitaker now.”
Maddie has been on Whitaker Island ever since she got out of the witness protection program for the last two years. She still keeps to herself and is barely known by most of the island members.
Like his brother before him, Connor is on forced vacation and decides to stay on Whitaker and in the cabin his brother has just vacated.
Maggie isn't sure about Connor but there is something that draws her to him and their “meet-cute” ends up having her bake him a pie in apology.
Whitaker Island is about to provide mystery, murder, and falling in love all over again.
She’d been terrified and in hiding for most of the last two years.
Second in the Whitaker Island series, you could comfortably start here as the story deals with a new murder mystery. Book one introduced readers to Maggie, one of the island's hermits who answers phones for the police department and Connor, brother to book one's hero. Why Maggie is so afraid of strangers and likes to keep herself isolated is doled out throughout the story. Reader's know she was in witness protection but it's about in the middle that we learn why and then more towards the end that the root of her emotional pain is revealed and explained.
If you read book one, you'll know about Connor's sister's murder, there is enough rehashing and from Connor's perspective to give a clear picture of what happened. The author did a good job of portraying how Connor's guilt has affected him and it is clear how his budding relationship with Maggie is/could be affected. This part of Connor's emotional journey isn't dealt with until the very end, even after the mystery part had been resolved, so it gave the story a little bit of a backwards feel. If Connor had dealt with these emotions earlier, I could have believed in their relationship more, as it was, I did wonder if he was just with Maggie to protect her because he couldn't protect his sister.
Get rid of him or I will
The mystery part didn't capture my attention, the mysterious notes Maggie gets set a good thriller, creepy vibe but when Connor and her find a dead body, it felt like taking a very similar track from the first book. We get a couple povs from the villain but their identity was pretty obvious from the start. I also thought Connor's involvement was a stretch, he barely knew Maggie but he (an engineer/businessman) thought he should be involved and keep her under is protection; it didn't flow right for me. The villain and their motivations I could go along with but some aspects and characters brought in from Maddie's reason for being in witness protection didn't feel tightened up enough, especially a red-herring thrown in that felt more like a brick than a swoosh shot.
“Don’t let vacation Connor fool you. I fight pretty hard for what I want.”
The mystery didn't really interest me and their romance lacked spark, their sex scenes didn't have me feeling their lust or love. The strong part of this story was the continuation of the setting, Whitaker Island and the secondary characters. Ben, the island sheriff, brightened up the pages when he was on them, along with a couple other island residents. The question continued from the first of who owns the island is revealed here and looks like it could provide for a third in the series.
The mystery started off thriller but petered out with an easy to guess villain and some sluggish reveal of Maggie's background. Connor and Maggie moved fairly immediately to togetherness but their relationship felt lifeless to me. I've read Dimon before and enjoyed her books, I'll read her again and hope this was a one off.
Suggested Reading Order:
Book #1 Her Other Secret