Award-winning author Angela Carling has a wonderful way of writing entertaining stories that deal with important issues without banging you over the head with them. Her YA novels often have a paranormal element yet they’re grounded in real life. When she asked me to take a look at her new novel, The Secret Keeper, I was delighted because I know by now that she’s an excellent storyteller. Our secrets do literally make us sick, something that every therapist knows only too well. And that is what’s at the heart of this suspenseful novel. The Secret Keeper is also a paranormal romance for all you romantics out there. I’m delighted we’ve got an autographed giveaway for this one – Whoot!
Winter has one huge regret that runs her life – it’s an if-only regret. If she had only gone out in the kayak with her older brother, Evan, when he asked her to one night at Black Canyon Lake then maybe he’d still be alive. And then maybe the profound sadness that permeates her home would never have existed.
When her best friend, Ally, has a bit too much of the doctored punch at the Senior Prom after her boyfriend broke up with her, Winter has to help her get home even though it means leaving her boyfriend, Liam, stuck with no date at the dance. They text back and forth but Liam and Winter both misinterpret what the other one means and that leads to the night becoming one huge miscommunication disaster. And it leads to Winter going to a post-prom party alone, something she probably would never have done if she hadn’t been so mad at Liam.
“Normally I ignored her [mom’s] prodding to go out and ‘be young’ but tonight I thought she might have a small point. This was my last prom, my last Heber High School dance for that matter, and going to bed at midnight was ridiculous. I should at least give the party a chance, I thought. Who knew, I might actually have fun.
I let a slow smile take over my face. ‘You know what? You’re right. I deserve a really good night. I think I will go.’
By the enormous grin that my mom wore, you’d think I’d been chosen valedictorian instead of chosen to go to an after Prom party. My parents were so weird, especially since my brother’s accident. It was like they were trying to get me to cram all of life’s experiences in…just in case.
I gave my mom a quick hug, grabbed my own car keys from the entryway table and slipped out the door.”
Unfortunately, Winter accepts a drink at the party that’s been doctored and that leads to her doing the unthinkable, kissing Ally’s newly ex-boyfriend, Hayden. When she wakes up the next morning, she’s horrified but she becomes even more horrified when not only does she learn Ally and Hayden are back together but that Hayden intends to blackmail her. WTH?! Winter can’t let Liam find out what happened and Hayden knows it. She can’t let something stupid like that destroy what she has with Liam. Her desperation may be what leads her to the park but the park is where she thinks she has found the answer to all of her problems…The Secret Keeper.
“I stared down at the ground, fighting my desire to spill my guts. Finally I gave in. ‘I really screwed up.’ I began. ‘and now I have this terrible secret that, if I tell, will hurt so many people.’
When I lifted my head, her soft grey eyes searched mine. She looked like a regular teenager but something about her gaze was wiser than her years. I found myself getting lost, wrapped up, and then she spoke.
‘I understand,’ she said. ‘I’ve been in your exact position before, and I know how to help you.’ Overhead, a cloud obscured the sun and her eyes seemed to darken. She blinked and the darkness went away.
‘What I’m about to tell you will be hard to believe, but I know someone who can make your secret disappear forever.’”
“I should have dismissed the girl as crazy. She was talking some kind of freakish power, the ability to alter the past. That was the stuff of fairy tales, or horror movies. I knew it was ludicrous, yet at the same time her story, her compassion, everything about her made me believe.
Besides, I thought, what do I have to lose that I won’t lose tomorrow anyway.
I was out of time and out of ideas…It was now or never. With a deep breath to steel my nerves, I put the car in drive.”
But who or what is the Secret Keeper? Can she really shift time somehow so that Winter never kissed Hayden? If she can do that, could she make it so Winter’s brother never died? What price is Winter willing to pay to erase the bad things from her life, and does she have any clue how steep that price really is and what repercussions changing the flow of time could cause?
Winter’s secret and her regret are both potentially life changing events, partially because they happened but mostly because of how she thinks and feels about them. Does that make them any less important? Nope. Winter loves Liam and is convinced they belong together, so she is determined something as stupid as a drunken kiss won’t ruin that. She’s also mortified that she kissed Hayden, who she normally could care less about, and she knows her life-long best friend will never speak to her again if she finds out. But the moral of this story is, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Angela Carling has worked her magic again with The Secret Keeper. It’s a compelling morality tale of young love, and the huge price we pay for fear and acts of desperation. I read it in one sitting – I couldn’t put it down even though I had originally planned to read it in small bits as I had time. Even though I’m long past being a teenager, it threw me right back into that time in my life and I was hooked. If you like teen romances with a dose of the paranormal, and sometimes downright creepy, I strongly suspect you’ll be hooked too!
Now I digress…When a small publisher closes its doors then its authors are left in book publishing limbo-land, which I imagine literally feels like a black hole in space. I’ve seen this happen to other good authors and now Angela is one of them. So when you go to your favorite online bookseller, don’t be surprised if you see few or no reviewers’ quotes for her books – they used to be there but were evidently tied to the publisher instead of the author – go figure. I’m confident she will find another publishing home, or fly solo as a successful self-published author, and I wish her all the best. BTW: I’ve included links to our reviews of her two previous novels at the end of this review so you can check them out as well.
Can’t wait to read The Secret Keeper?
The Secret Keeper was published on May 9, 2015, so it’s available from your favorite online bookseller below (or in the right column for iBooks). If you download it as an e-book, it’s a steal at only $2.99, and you can have it to read immediately!
I’d love to get your comments on The Secret Keeper, Angela Carling or her other work, and/or this review.
Click here to read our review of Unbreakable Love, a sweet YA romance about soul mates, and here for our review of her award-winning novel Shackled, a YA tale dealing with dating abuse which is scheduled to become a made-for-TV movie.
If you like this review, please contribute to our Reviewers’ Caffeine Fund in the left column. Just a cup a day, that’s all we ask.
One lucky reader will win an autographed finished trade paperback copy of The Secret Keeper by Angela Carling!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 7/25/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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