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Review: The Art Of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

on September 19, 2016

art-of-keeping-secretsThe Art Of Keeping Secrets
Rachael Johns
Harlequin MIRA AUS
2016, 464p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Little secrets grow up to be big lies…

They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together, and Felicity, Emma and Neve share everything … or so they thought.

But Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage hides a shocking secret which, with one word, threatens to destroy her and her family’s happiness. Emma is in denial about a potential custody battle, her financial constraints, the exhaustion she can’t seem to shake off and the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And single mum Neve is harbouring a secret of her own; a secret that might forever damage her close-knit relationship with her son.

When the tight hold they have each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.

Perhaps some secrets weren’t made to be kept.

Popular rural romance author Rachael Johns takes a couple more very brave steps outside of her familiar comfort zone with her second ‘life lit’ offering, The Art of Keeping Secrets. Focusing on a trio of women brought together by their sons starting a prestigious high school together some 5-6 years ago, Flick, Emma and Neve have developed a tight knit friendship where they probably thought they knew all of each others secrets. But as their sons get ready to graduate, each woman faces the possibility of secrets that they’ve kept from each other and perhaps even themselves coming out and their lives as they know it drastically changing.

Flick has two children, a daughter about to be married and the son about to graduate. Both Emma and Neve are single mothers – Emma for only a short amount of time and Neve has raised her son entirely on her own. Both are envious of Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage to the wonderful Seb but if only they knew….. Although Seb is a fantastic husband and father, their marriage hides a secret that Flick has been prepared to cope with for the past twenty years. When she discovers (is blindsided) by the fact that Seb wants to take this secret much further, Flick is thrown savagely into a cesspit of horror, uncertainty and confusion. She knows she needs to make a decision about what she wants to do with her marriage and it’s not going to be easy. She fluctuates, because she loves Seb but she’s not sure she can get on board with what he needs to do. Flick’s through processes are brutally honest in the book – it’s confronting and ugly and uncomfortable but quite realistic as well. She has had her status quo rocked and her mind goes to some pretty dark places, even if it’s only briefly.

Neve’s son has expressed a desire to meet his father, who has never been in his life. Although Neve expected this day to come at some stage, for Neve it means admitting to her son that she lied to him. The two of them have always been close as it’s been just the two of them and Neve fears that what she has to confess will destroy their relationship, perhaps irreparably. Not only does Neve have to confess something to her son but she also needs to track down the former love of her life and admit something to him too, the thought of which makes her feel ill. Neve’s journey takes her to New York, with Flick and Emma tagging along for moral support and the chance to escape from their own situations.

Emma is now a struggling single mother of three as her former husband left her for a much younger woman and has somehow managed to manipulate the financial situation so that Emma is left without much support. He then lavishes expensive holidays and gifts on their children that Emma cannot compete with, leaving her fearing that the children will eventually prefer to live with their father in his McMansion. She’s also harbouring some crush-type feelings on her lovely, handsome boss that everyone thinks might possibly be gay as well as experiencing some crushing headaches that just don’t seem to go away. Emma is also reevaluating her friendship with Neve after some of Neve’s secrets were spilled and although Neve is trying to make things right, Emma’s situation means that it takes some time for her to be able to to accept that.

These three women are written with such honestly. I had a range of emotions whilst reading this book from cheering for them, wanting them to be my friends to disbelief, irritation and even horror at some of their thoughts and actions. It was impressively real and made their secrets all the more believable because their reactions to theirs and to their friends were so realistic. They had ugly moments, beautiful moments, strong moments, weak moments. All throughout however, that strong friendship was underpinning everything, holding the three of them together both individually and as a group, even when there was some discord. The friendship is written as the core of the book, the secrets are in a way, what serves to strengthen and showcase that friendship as each of them face something in their lives and move through it with the help, support and understanding of their friends. Even though there are some times where things don’t always go smoothly, the three women are always able to move on and be almost better for it. This is why I love Rachael Johns’ books so much, be they her rurals or her women’s/life lit because she captures emotion and human nature so well. I enjoyed the fact that at times I viewed their actions or thoughts negatively because it was brutally honest and reflected the sort of thoughts or reactions I myself might have had in the same situation……they were things that it would be hard to react positively or thoughtfully to straight off the bat and it’s human nature at times to react first and think later. I think we also all harbour those secret thoughts, ones that we might not admit to or be ashamed to admit to but they’re there nonetheless and so I can find them quite understandable given the situations!

This is the sort of book that I think it’s best to set aside a couple of hours/a whole afternoon or evening before you start it because once you do start, it’s hard to find a break in the story to put it down. Don’t start it late at night or you could end up being up all night! It’s not just a compelling story, it’s several compelling stories woven together into one big one. I do have to admit, it did leave me with a few curiosities at the end of the story, things I was pondering over and wondering about. I’m annoyingly addicted to closure though and knowing everything, so sometimes my nosiness backfires on me when it comes to reading!

Incredible writing and a great story. A must for old fans and should definitely attract some new ones.


Book #175 of 2016


One response to “Review: The Art Of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

  1. Deborah says:

    This is the first of Rachael’s books I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. I loved the characters and found them very real. A great book!

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