Random House AU
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rennie Carter has been in Haven Bay for five years, possibly the longest she’s ever stayed anywhere in her whole life. Previously it’s always been about running, keeping on the move, laying low. Don’t make friends, don’t settle in, don’t get close to people. You never know when you just might have to pack up and leave.
But that changed the day she drove into the small town on the beautiful Lake Macquarie in NSW. She got a job working in a cafe, she begin to make tentative roads towards friendships. Her sister Jo left after a couple of weeks, but Rennie remained. She met Max, became involved with him and eventually moved into his house with him.
And then one night Max disappeared.
Rennie is the only person who believes that Max might be in danger, because she’s the only person that knows about her violent past. She’s desperate as one by one, Max’s friends and family seem to come to the conclusion that he might’ve just left. His cousin even attempts to make Rennie see that he might’ve been planning something like this for a while. But Rennie refuses to believe it. He wouldn’t do that to her, wouldn’t walk out of her life without a word, without a goodbye. Not after all he did to get in it.
Rennie believes that her past might finally have caught up with her. She’s been running from it for so long now, with brief respites but it seems that the time of relaxation is over. She got careless, she stayed too long and now someone that she loves is going to pay the price, the victim of someone who has a score to settle with Rennie. While the police are looking in the wrong places and while Max’s friends and family are wondering what would’ve made him want to go, Rennie knows differently.
Rennie has always run before, at the first sign of trouble. But not this time. This time she’s staying and she’s fighting…for Max.
Blood Secret is Jaye Ford’s third full length novel the first two being Beyond Fear and Scared Yet?. Ford is fast proving herself to be a master of the suspense novel, deftly weaving tales that keep the reader absolutely hooked and this one, the second of her books that I’ve read, proved to be no exception for me. I started it mid afternoon and read it in one sitting, utterly engrossed in the story,
Rennie is one heck of an amazing character. Her childhood and adolescence was spent always on the move, running away from a never-ending danger that culminated in two savage acts of violence. Since then she’s had some time to relax, the danger safely out of the way for the time being, which has allowed her to let her guard down some. She has become a part of the community of Haven Bay, a small dot on the western side of Lake Macquarie on the NSW central/hunter coast. She isn’t just a temporary waitress anymore, she’s a part of a team in the cafe and she’s become a part of Max Tully’s life as well. Although she’s never told Max, she loves him and when he disappears, Rennie is the one who really fears for him. At first she believes that it may have something to do with a random road rage incident but after that is discounted, Rennie begins to think that it might be her fault that Max is missing. That something from her past has finally caught up with her and gone after something that she cared about, the first person that she’d ever really allowed herself to care about. The police are looking in all the wrong places and when they find out about Rennie’s past, they focus on that instead of on what she’s telling them. That frustrates her and also spurs her into action. Rennie is so interesting because in this novel, you can clearly see her two halves – the one that has always run, that is still prepared for that moment where she has to leave with what she needs stuffed into one pack, and also the woman who wants to stay, who wants to be a part of something and have a life.
Rennie never gives up on Max, not even when she’s given some information about him that she wasn’t privy to before, something that doesn’t portray him in a flattering light. She’s briefly thrown but she thinks about it, she thinks about the sort of person he is, the person that she’s come to know in the past five years and concludes that he wouldn’t have done that to her. That something must be wrong. She continues digging, looking into other possibilities and she takes Max’s teenage son from his previous marriage along for the ride, despite their rocky relationship. Being a stepmother myself, I’m aware just how difficult it can be to forge a relationship with a stepchild and how fruitless attempts can be at times. Hayden is a typically aggressive teenager who is rebelling and his ways are not what Rennie is used to because of her upbringing. At times I questioned the fact that she didn’t just put him on a train to his grandparents place, because there was a possibility he’d be in danger if he stayed. However she did her best to treat him as an adult and not keep him in the dark and involve him in the search for his dad, which was maybe what he needed.
I picked the person behind the events, but not the motive however I did doubt my choice several times whilst getting towards the climax of the book, which I enjoyed. It’s always fun to try and solve everything before the characters do – but in their place I’d have not been able to put everything they did together! This is definitely a page-turner and I’d recommend it for anyone who has enjoyed Ford’s previous novels or someone who really wants to sink their teeth into a suspense novel. The added bonus is the way in which Ford captures the local setting and really makes it come alive.
Book #230 of 2013
Blood Secret is book #84 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013.