This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
S.E.C.R.E.T Series: Secret #1
Published by Broadway on February 5, 2013
Genres: Contemp Romance, Erotic Romance, Romance, Romantica
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Courtesy review copy
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Cassie Robichaud’s life is filled with regret and loneliness after the sudden death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie’s world is forever changed.

The notebook’s stunningly explicit confessions shock and fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S?E?C?R?E?T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies. Cassie soon immerses herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the courage to live passionately. Equal parts enticing, liberating and emotionally powerful, S?E?C?R?E?T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.

4 Stars

S.E.C.R.E.T is a book the took me completely by surprise.  This is one of those books where the book blurb does not do justice to the actual book.  The book blurb is accurate, but from the summary I thought this book would be another version of the same story that has been going around in the contemporary romantica genre (contemporary romance readers will all know what I mean).  I thought this book would be a combination of 50 Shades and Being Me, and was hesitant to read it.  This reluctant reader was book-slapped when I discovered that S.E.C.R.E.T was not what I expected at all, and I loved it.

Instead of being a story about an alpha male overcoming his issues and awakening an innocent, S.E.C.R.E.T is about a woman finding and empowering HERSELF.  Cassie is a woman who had lost herself in an abusive relationship and had built a protective shell around herself, never really living and experiencing life.  As a widow, she went to work and then went home.  She had no social life and kept herself isolated.  After finding a customer’s journal and reading it, Cassie started to think about living.  She is recruited into a women’s group that helps her take steps to break out of her shell and become a whole, happy woman.

The SECRET group uses unconventional means in a multi-step program to help women . They use fantasies, sexual fantasies.  Each step in the program pushes Cassie’s boundaries and buttons, but each step has a clear purpose.  This book is a sexy, steamy read, but, the sexual aspects are not meaningless.  They are not about training a submissive or simply awakening a woman’s sensual side.  The steps drive Cassie to look into herself and to tear down the walls she built around herself.  The timing is also very believable, the book takes place over about a year.  So, the transformation is not instant, it is a process.  During the process, Cassie develops more relationships, makes friends, and grows into her home.  The men in the story are all interesting characters themselves.  Their various connections to Cassie transform as Cassie transforms.  I became very attached to Cassie, it was easy to relate to her and to understand her fears and joys.

The reason I am rating this book 4 instead of 5 stars would be the ending.  The ending to this book is a remarkable, whopper of an ending.  I experienced a turbulence of emotions in the last chapter of SECRET.  I was so happy and proud and then BOOM.  The set up for book 2 is huge.  I am disturbed by how the book ended.  I still can’t decide if it was a fantastic set up for the second book, or if it just made me mad.  I will definitely be reading book 2 to find out.

S.E.C.R.E.T hooked me in with a fresh storyline that blends passion with empowerment and strength with vulnerability.  Overall, S.E.C.R.E.T is a great read.  I am so happy to have found a book that builds a woman up so much and commend L. Marie Adeline for writing this novel.  I definitely recommend this book to contemporary romance readers.

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