All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Secret Reflection – Jennifer Brassel

on April 11, 2013

Secret ReflectionSecret Reflection
Jennifer Brassel
Harlequin Escape
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Recovering from her recent divorce, American Kelly Reid has come to England to spend some time with her friend Nancy and Nancy’s husband Tom. The two of them have purchased a 20 year lease on a grand old homestead Stanthorpe House and plan to turn it into a hotel. Kelly plans to also use her trip as research, to attempt to write an English screenplay. As an American, she doesn’t often get the English humour and slang so she wants to experience it first hand in order to get it right.

When she arrives, Nancy and Tom tell her that they’d also like her to use her skills to write a piece promoting the opening for the hotel. In it they want her to prove that the house does indeed contain a ghost – Kelly is immediately dismissive. She doesn’t believe in ghosts and she thinks it will be a simple thing to uncover whatever Tom and Nancy are using, technology wise, to make it appear as if the house is haunted.

That is, until a man appears in the mirror of her bedroom. Nothing Kelly does can identify how such a thing could be possible. Although she has to admit, the actor is good – very good. He plays the dashing 1800’s hero to perfection! But she’s determined to find some way to prove that this cannot be real – because she’s coming to care a little too much for the man.

John Tarrant has been trapped in nothingness for 140 years, able to only appear in the household mirrors at regular intervals to attempt to secure his freedom. Suffering horribly over something that he did in the past, John seeks his freedom in a final death and some peace at last. Until that is, he meets Kelly. John might not understand life in the year 2000, but he knows an attractive woman when he sees one. But the harder they work to free him from his curse, the more the possibility seems that he just might vanish forever. And Kelly isn’t sure she can do that.

Secret Reflections is one of the April release titles for Harlequin Escape and when I saw it, I had to request it! It seemed so different that I knew I wanted to read it and although I’m a super skeptic, the idea of a man trapped inside a mirror for 140 years and falling in love with someone who is attempting to free him, just seems well, so romantic. Because John is trapped in a mirror and can’t take corporeal form, I think the author has to work a lot harder to establish a real chemistry between the two characters. She manages to do this by developing the attraction early. Kelly believes that the man in the mirror is a projection, merely an actor. So she often wears skimpy clothing (underwear, etc, she is in her bedroom after all) while she’s talking to him. John has seen many changes come and go whilst he’s been in his Purgatory but he still retains his 1800’s manners. There are also several spicy dream scenes but mostly the connection has to be established through the characters speaking and I think that this is accomplished rather well.

It’s no secret to the reader that John believes he deserves punishment. He calls himself a murderer and he longs for death so that he can meet his Maker and face his punishment. Instead he is trapped in the mirror and forced to bear witness to all manner of horrible things performed on someone that he loved. Death seems by far the most preferable option to him but once Kelly comes to know him and believe his story, she finds that she may not want to free him if it will result in that very thing happening. She vows to find a way that will end his torment but hopefully, keep him with her.

Please note the following paragraph is ***SPOILERISH***

To be honest, that’s where the story did get a little weak in that there’s not a lot of explanation towards the end. Whilst I do think that you can take liberties and have things explained away as just “happening” sometimes I think that if you plan on writing a supernatural story then you probably should have a pretty strong reason for why things happen as they do. We know why John was trapped into the mirror, so the reader has to take a leap of faith to believe in the magic and spell that put him there – they’ve already done that if they’re engrossed in the story. It’s not going to be hard to take another leap of faith in order for him to come out. Obviously the reader wants a happy ever after for Kelly and John – separated as they are by 140 years and a mirror. I was quite happy for the ending to be John popping into physical form but I wanted to know why this happened. Why was that the result of breaking the spell? It’s an explanation that I believe would’ve really boosted this book, for me personally anyway.

End ***SPOILERISH*** talk.

However, even without that, I did really enjoy this book. I’m kind of like Kelly so I really loved her journey of coming to believe that John was real. She wanted to long before she actually did, but she also wanted to keep him with her towards the end, so she was hoping he was still an actor. I liked the play of his Victorian times ways and mannerisms against her 2000’s modern woman behaviour. It was a highly enjoyable story.


Book #87 of 2013


This is the 40th novel read and reviewed this year for the Australian Women Writers Challenge.


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