REVIEW: Midnight Secrets by Ella Grace
Dear Ella Grace:
I found this book to be rather bland. The heroine is nice. The hero is nice. There is a certain Robyn Carr Virgin River tone to it which made sense when I learned that Ella Grace was a penname for Christy Reece, whose work I had tried in the past and put down because the tone wasn’t to my taste. The first third tells of the romance between young Savannah Wilde, one of the three Wilde triplets, and Zach Tanner, the town’s bad boy. While I appreciate trying to set the right stage for a reconciliation, the over 70+ pages devoted to Savannah from the ages of 12 to 18 served to only slow the pace of the book. If anything, the extended look at their past relationship made it even more difficult to comprehend a) their separation and b) any barriers to reunited love.
After the first third of backstory is laid out, we learn Zach breaks Savannah’s heart. Fast forward ten years, Savannah returns to her town to sell her family home and encounters Zach who is now the new police chief. The mystery of why he broke her heart 10 years ago is drug out until the middle of the book but sadly, it is a total let down. It’s not that what happened to him wasn’t believable but that the build up led the reader to anticipate something more dramatic and it wasn’t.
In the second half, the other sisters are introduced and mystery and suspense elements take center stage. Savannah’s parents were killed in a murder/suicide, forever tainting Savannah’s golden childhood. Her return places her in danger, necessitating visits from Zach and ultimately protection from him. On the positive side, the mystery/suspense was resolved in this book and not carried forth into books 2 and 3 of the Wilde sisters. However, I found the story as executed fairly implausible. It relied too much on the crazy person plot trope which, again, made the mystery/suspense less interesting.
Savannah is a sweet, nice girl who is somewhat surprised by a) how Zach has hardened from a sweet boy to a commanding man and b) her intense attraction to him. Back in her hometown, she recalls marvelous memories of her past and feels a tug to return. Her sisters appear with an idea of setting up an investigation/security firm in this small town because small towns really can afford to support an investigation/security firm. (#protip, pretty sure that all you ever need to know about a small town can be learned at the hairdresser’s shop).
Zach is your standard gruff exterior with a heart of gold cop who is determined to win Savannah over. Only when he says “where do you see this going?” it doesn’t include “I’ll come to Nashville with you.” That’s not even a consideration for either of them. The small town’s appeals is simply too strong for anyone to see past. I didn’t get enough of a sense that Savannah, after only a few years of practicing law, would already be burned out and want to leave her Nashville life for small town gloriousness. I’m just worn down by the smalltown trope, I guess. Or maybe I don’t understand it. Whatever the reason is, I’m not buying these successful women who throw away their good careers in an effort to live a more fulfilling life.
Essentially we have 1/3 of a YA romance plus an over the top murder mystery with a dash of book 2 and 3 setup thrown in. It’s a serviceable book but I can’t see myself moving forward with the series. C
[spoiler]He got beat up by some guys and was too ashamed to tell her so he left and never spoke to her for months. By the time he did call her, she was too angry to respond. Cue 10 years of silence between them. [/spoiler]