Posted in Books I have read

The Secret Wife – Linda Kavanagh

Psychological Thriller 3*'s
Psychological Thriller

Laura Thompson is getting married. The university lecturer has got her man, her dress and her hopes of a long and happy life with stockbroker Jeff. But the man of her dreams isn’t all that he seems, and before long dark clouds are gathering on the horizon…

Told in two separate narratives, in the present the story told is Laura’s who has fallen madly in love with Jeff despite her best friend Kerry’s reservations and in the past by Ellie, who has an affair with the boss at the factory where she works in a lab.  Alan Thompson is married and his wife’s father is the chief investor in the business so he simply can’t leave her without losing everything.  I found Ellie’s story by far the more compelling of the two at the start of this book, as she flouts the rules of the small village she lives, retreating into her own company as she keeps the affair with Alan Thornwood a secret. Unfortunately this need secrecy means that as the story progresses she becomes a somewhat shadowy figure with few interactions with others to add tone to her character.

Laura’s story conversely becomes more complex as the marriage she entered into so hastily takes a turn for the worse. Jeff has demons from his past which result in him becoming domineering and Laura struggles with guilt over the death of her parents and brother. Through it all she depends heavily on her friend from childhood, Kerry as well as her trusted colleagues at the University where she lectures. As both Laura and Kerry feel they are being watched this part of the story soon takes on a darker hue.

I felt that although the pace picked up and I was eager to find out what was to become of both women the story was undermined by the constant monologues which became repetitive, hammering home the issues rather than letting the reader infer from the narrative. When a book starts with a character, in this case, Kerry, just appearing to know that Jeff was not the man for Laura with no evidence described to back it up, the author is always going to struggle to get me back on board, so it is a measure of some success with the plotting that I kept reading, initially on the strength of Ellie’s tale and didn’t give up in despair. There are some clever twists to the tale although I needed to suspend belief in the fact that Ellie kept her daughter’s father a secret in such a small village, and there is a culmination with a neat convergence of the two tales. I did guess some of the key points, again something that would have been avoided if the book had been written with a shade more subtlety.

This is a light, easy read for readers who like their romance slightly darker than normal as I think this straddles this genre and the psychological to create an interesting and well-paced read.

I’d like to thank the publishers Harlequin UK for sending me a copy of this book in return for this honest review.