REVIEW: The House of Secrets by Elizabeth Blackwell
Dear Ms. Blackwell,
I didn’t realize this book is part of the “Everlasting Love” line until I began to read it. Which shows how much I pay attention to the “icon” on the front cover. Anywho, since my house has been a renovation project in the works for years now, that aspect of the book description caught my eye.
Alyssa Franklin just knows that the run down old Queen Anne house is meant for her, even if it will take her life savings to buy it, months to restore it and probably cost her a long term romance that, actually, is on its last legs. At first, she’s entranced with the idea of the love affair between the original owners of the house – the scion of what used to be the most prominent family in the area and the daughter of a seamstress. I mean, they must have been deeply in love to thwart social conventions. But as she tackles the issues of the house with the help of a hunky handyman, the truth of that marriage as well as Alyssa’s hopes for a new romance, begin to be uncovered.
Managing to tell one love story in a book is sometimes hard. Fitting in a main story with a secondary one can be tricky. But trying to tell of two couples finding their HEA within the space of a relatively short book is an undertaking. And one that I feel is only partly accomplished here.
While I feel the romance between Evelyn Brewster and her ultimate hero receives enough attention to detail, that of Alyssa and Danny Pierce, the carpenter every woman would love to have hanging around her house, could have used more time and space. I never quite got over the feeling that they were more employer and employee than potential lovers – an awkwardness that you have them share as well.
I do like the other romance, though I would have to wonder if any lingering feelings ever haunted them after what happens. Evelyn certainly does learn the wisdom of the old phrase, “marry in haste and repent at leisure.” I think you captured her disillusionment as well as the stifling atmosphere of a society marriage of the time. I certainly wouldn’t want Alma Brewster for a mother in law.
The way in which you allow Alyssa and Danny to learn the truth about what happened over a hundred years ago is a little contrived but understandable given the circumstances that you had already built into the plot. The whole story would certainly never have been recorded given the prominence of the Brewster family and the determination of Alma to uphold their social position.
Usually I’m not much of one for epilogues but will admit to being charmed by this one. There’s enough information about Alyssa and Danny to satisfy my curiosity as well as a final testimony to the love which Evelyn fought so hard to enjoy. B-