Title: The Secret Series, Books 1 - 5
Author: Lace Daltyn
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Suspense, Romance
ARCs Received From: Tasty Book Tours
Frigid bitch. The words seep into Beth Ritmour's soul, no matter how hard she tries to deny them. A year after her divorce, they still haunt her. So when a mysterious benefactor offers a solution to her problem, Beth takes a vacation from her job as a dental hygienist and follows a cryptic note to Chicago, where she’s soon ensconced as a waitress at Club Masquerade. Although how she’s going to prove she’s not frigid is hard to figure out when the boss makes it very clear that sex, or any precursors to sex, with patrons or employees is strictly taboo. It’s not an easy rule to follow, especially when one deliciously hot bartender keeps very, very close tabs on her.
Which meant Beth wasn't a frigid bitch. She just needed the right man to evoke that kind of passionate response from her. She needed Anthony.
Only problem was getting involved with Anthony was against Masquerade's policy, and Anthony had a lot to lose if he gave into the attraction that burned between them. But you know what? Sometimes the risk is worth it if it means having a second chance with the one person you've always wanted.
You can't erase the past. You can't go back and do it differently. Mistakes and decisions might have been made then that have placed you where you are now, but those things don't have to define your future. Anthony and Beth found that out when they were given the chance to be together for more than one night and after they cleared the air about their pasts.
This story is the first of five. It's well-written and, surprisingly, emotionally deep. It also shows substantial growth in both Anthony and Beth. Fast-paced, hot when it mattered, and well-written, this is a great first story for this series and as an intro to Ms. Daltyn's writing style. I've got four more to go. I can't wait to see what she's written in those.
Jenna Wilton is afraid of getting lost. On the brink of moving from a life under the controlling thumb of her mother, to the arms of her husband, she’s afraid she will never have the chance to know herself. When a mysterious note bids her to leave in the middle of her wedding shower, she slips out the back door and into a world where the choices are hers to make.
There was this...lost sort of feeling throughout this story, like there was some part of Jenna that knew she was more than what others saw but didn't know how to show it. Watching her emerge from her own shadow was amazing and enlightening because she was reluctant to do it.
The comfort zone is where the timid stay. It keeps others happy while it makes them miserable. To discover who and what she was, Jenna had to step outside of her comfort zone and, literally, into the unknown. Did she? Yes, and the woman she discovered was amazing, I think, even to herself.
She was successful, she was good at her profession, she could make decisions that reflected her, she could give her all and be satisfied with the outcome. Those revelations helped with her relationship with her mom, her fiance, and showed her that it was okay to do as her heart directed instead of as someone else commanded. Happiness and self-worth aren't defined by others. They are defined by you and only you.
Laid off from her job and evicted from her apartment, life couldn’t get much worse for Melinda Atkins. Dylan Maguire invites her to stay with him, but the strings attached are more than Mel is ready to take on. After all, she’s ten years older than him. And more years than that separate her and the models he photographs. He will lose interest.
Dylan Maguire has tried everything else to convince the woman he loves that he’s forever material, that their age difference doesn’t matter. He’s out of options. Afraid he’s on the cusp of losing it all, Dylan submits a request for help.
The past can be such a bitch. It can keep you back even when your heart begs you to take a chance because this is what it wants. That was Melinda. She's seen the devastation left behind when someone was left for a younger person, and those memories bolstered her resolve never to let her relationship with Dylan come to that point. The heartache of him leaving for someone younger would kill her.
Dylan however wasn't going anywhere. His heart was set on Melinda and only Melinda. The models he worked with were beautiful, sure, and closer to his age, but they didn't do anything for him. He couldn't rely on words at this point anymore; he had to show her what he saw every time he looked at her. And he did by doing what he did best: he photographed her.
Pictures convey more than words ever could. In those pictures, Melinda finally saw herself as Dylan saw her.
"This is what I've wanted you to understand," Dylan said. "I've wanted you to see the real you."
"And this is it?" Mel chewed on her lower lip.
"Yes. This is the caring, adventurous, beautiful woman I love." (Kindle, ARC, Loc 1643)This moment was when I cheered the most because Melinda was finally aware of herself. This man wasn't going anywhere. He wasn't going to ditch her when she turned fifty and he was forty. He wasn't going to chase the next pretty thing to grace every billboard across America. As much as she was his, he was undeniably hers.
Settled in her new career as a teacher, letters threatening to divulge Kate Storm’s past and ruin her future force her to ask for help in an unconventional way. Enter Cole Madison, a retired-Ranger-turned-protector, with the scar on his back validating that women are nothing but trouble. Until he sees Kate.
Talk about paranoia. Kate was drowning in it, and it overwhelmed the first part of this story. Bad thing? Nah. It's just been a while since I've read a story where that kind of emotion was so powerful and so well-written that it demanded a reaction.
She wasn't all crazy talk and imagination though, and I was happy when Cole peeked into her world and saw the threat against her was real and that he wanted to keep her safe. Because her past was coming for her with a vengeance and she was going to need all the help she could get.
Kate's past as the prostitute Pandora coupled with Cole's past with a former prostitute should have made this a disaster waiting to happen. Instead, it did the opposite. While a former john went through unbelievable lengths to secure Kate as his "submissive" to finish their scene from before, Cole came to realize that not all prostitutes cared about themselves. Kate was a shining example. She turned tricks to pay for school. It may not have been ideal but for her, considering all she'd been through before that point, it was all she had. But it wasn't who she was anymore.
This is one story where I kept praying the past would just go straight to hell. In this story, it was deadly and could have done more present and future damage rather than good. I'm glad it didn't and that these two experienced the happily ever after they deserved.
All the pain, anguish, and terror of Drea’s life coalesce in this fifth and final segment of the Secrets saga. Michael Smith is determined to show Drea Fortier there is life after bad. And she’s had some powerful bad in her life. As he and Drea fight to keep that past from killing her, the Dom in him tries to show Drea that submission can be good. Healing. Loving.
This story ties in all of the others before it. The beginning and ending of each other books gives glimpses into Drea and Michael's relationship. It might be a working relationship at first, but it is obvious that it is more than just that.
However, Drea's past isn't just a shadow in this story. It's a nightmare that follows her even during the daylight hours. She hides in her apartment, branded and scarred from a past she didn't ask for or want. Abducted and forced into slavery at a young age by a sadist, she rose from the ashes of a scared girl to her owner's favorite, worming her way into his life so she could gain access to potentially her freedom. She accomplished that but it came at such a high cost.
Michael's patience with Drea shows in all five stories, as does his growing love for her. This Dom, however, knows he can't have her unless he knows all of her and that's unlikely to happen as she has no plans of letting anyone close or in ever again. But slowly, throughout five books, he does just that. And in the end, the payoff is huge. He gains access to Drea, learns her past, saves her from harm, loves her despite it all.
See, Drea wasn't just some broken woman he felt the need to fix. She was the woman he loved, the woman he longed to have kneel before him and accept his collar, to accept his domination and to freely give her submission. Her experience with BDSM had been at the hands of a sadist who only knew how to take and never give. With Michael, she learned how BDSM could heal, bring closure, and have her laying her heart open for him to see.
Her trust in Michael at the end was well placed. He earned it and I knew he would never do anything to make her doubt giving it to him.
I'm not a huge BDSM reader. There are too many stories out there where the elements of this lifestyle are skewed and don't show the beauty behind the collar, the submission, the dominance. But this story... This one has a place in my heart because it shows how wonderful a D/s relationship really can be.
After years of searching, Lace settled down with a man whose first words to her were "Save me a dance." That's all it took. Four little words and she was a goner. Twenty years later, she still remembers that first kiss, standing beside his yellow Ford Mustang cool car. (Yes, it was yellow. "Hey," Lace says. "It was cool at the time.") And it still is in her mind and in her heart. That kiss and the future love it represented is the reason she enjoys stories filled with romance and emotion.And dancing. Always dancing.