THE SECRET SISTER
by Brenda Novak
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Published by MIRA
Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?
After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.
Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she'd prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He's back on the island, and to her surprise, he's raising a young daughter alone. Maisey's still attracted to him, but her heart's too broken to risk…
Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must've been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.
Maisey's convinced that child existed. So where is she now?
The Secret Sister is the second book by Brenda Novak that I've read. I first discovered her books when I read This Heart of Mine of the Whiskey Creek Series. I enjoyed her style and storytelling so much that I wanted to read more. The Secret Sister is the first book of the Fairham Island series.
I was drawn to the mystery of the story the most. The family is keeping a lot of secrets, trust has been broken, and love denied. There are multiple layers of the truth covered in thicker layers of lies and everyone has seemingly remained tight-lipped. As Maisey begins to undercover the truth, she realizes she may not like what she discovers. In these moments, I really felt for Maisey because she was struggling with her broken marriage, her overbearing and controlling mother, and her troubled brother, Keith.
The relationship between Maisey and Keith is one of the most complex and complicated relationships of this story. Maisey has returned to Fairham Island because Keith needs her and has asked her to return. He is struggling with his addiction and mental illness, but isn't completely forthcoming with everything that troubles him. Maisey tries to help him as best as she can. During an emotional moment between them, she says:
"The future doesn't have to be a reflection of the past," . . . "We'll get through the coming months together. It'll be okay now that we have each other." (p. 15)
Maisey tries to stay true to her word, but Keith begins to test her resolve and he increasingly becomes more volatile as the mystery of the secret sister begins to unfold. Their relationship was another driving force of the story and was always changing.
As I said, I was intrigued by the mystery and that is what kept my turning the pages, but I LOVED reading the relationship between Maisey and Rafe. Rafe is introduced as the bad-boy with a wild past, but he is ANYTHING BUT THAT. He is kind and tender and responsible and respectable. (Well, he did have a little bit of the bad-boy still in him) I really enjoyed the romantic aspect of The Secret Sister and how the relationship was developed over the course of the book.
As a first book of a series, many characters are introduced through Maisey's encounters as she makes her way back to her hometown. One of my favorite characters was Dinah. She offered some humor to the story that had a lot of heavy moments. She's definitely someone who would have a lot of tales to tell and I hope that one of the books of the series will focus on her.
The Secret Sister is a great introduction to a new series. I enjoyed the complexity of the story, the family dynamics, and the romance. I can't wait to meet the other people of Fairham Island and find out what other secrets are being kept in this small town.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher as part of a promotional tour in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way other than the ARC provided. Quotes were taken from the ARC and may differ from the final published version. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at . To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.
Five (5) copies of The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
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