originally published by New American Library in 2005, re-released by Penguin (InterMix) in January 2014
Emma Townsend is astonished when she comes across a love letter tucked away in an old high school year book, written by her once dear friend Chris Walker. Having never seen it until now, the letter has taken seventeen years to touch Emma’s heart. Now she’s determined to find Chris and maybe even get a second chance at romance.Genre: Romantic Suspense
For Chris, now a college professor, seeing Emma again has brought back a flood of memories, rekindling a passion he thought was long gone. But in the shadows, someone is watching Emma and Chris, someone nursing revenge, and plunging Emma into a nightmare where no one can be trusted and every dirty little secret is sealed with a kiss.
Series: Connected with Watch Your Back
The Story: Emma Townsend is a psychologist, specializing in grief. However, for the past year, Emma has felt like a fraud because she has not been able to follow her own advice, has not been able to deal with the loss of her husband who was killed in a convenience store robbery. One day, while cleaning out his book, she stumbles across one of her old high school year books and discovers a love letter written by her dear friend Christopher Walker, one that she has never read. Afraid that all these years he thought she has rejected him, Emma hires a PI in the hope to find Christopher and makes things right.
Divorced and a single father, Chris is delighted when Emma walks back in his life as he's never stopped loving her. However, now might not has been the best of times. One of Chris' grad student was recently found dead in the lab and it turns out it was murder and not suicide. Then another of Chris' student disappears and the only connecting link between the two is the project they were working on...
My Opinion: I've been wanting to read Dirty Secrets for years! And I'm serious, years!! This novella was originally published as part of an anthology, Hot Pursuit, and I simply couldn't get my hands on it :( And believe me, I searched since Dirty Secrets was the only story by Ms Rose that I hadn't read... Imagine how happy I was when Ms Rose announced that it was being re-released... It's time like this that I looove ebooks LOL.
So, did Dirty Secrets measure up to my expectations? Well see, that's the issue... I've had years to build up those expectations ^_^; I thought that Dirty Secrets was very promising and there were definitively elements that I liked about it... but in the end, the problem boiled down to the length of the book, Dirty Secrets being a novella. For me, what makes Ms Rose' romantic suspense books stand out is the fact that they are so complex - both the romance and the intrigue... and that was something that she could not do with Dirty Secrets. I felt that everything was a bit too rushed and not developed enough.
I liked Emma and Christopher as characters and found it refreshing that neither were cops or had jobs that interacted with cops. This provided a nice change of dynamics from Ms Rose's most recent books. They had a past together and some nice chemistry. My problem though was that they became a couple a bit too fast... They have not seen each other in almost 15 years, Emma is a recent widow and Chris has not dated in years... Even if they still carried a torch for each other, to become a couple so fast, it was a bit far-fetched to me. Even with the events precipitated things a bit, it still felt a bit too rushed and forced. I did enjoy the beginning though, how they reconnected. Also, Ms Rose had a great conflict going on with Christopher's fourteen years old daughter, Megan, not accepting this sudden relationship and her reasons for it.
As for the case, I thought it was interesting... but a bit too obvious with everyone jumping to the right conclusions a bit too easily, a bit too fast. Also, the villain was easy to guess because in a novella, you don't have time to introduce decoys - every character has a role ^_^;
My Grade: I wished Dirty Secrets had been a full-length novel. If Ms Rose had had the chance to develop everything the way she usually does, it would have been an awesome book. However, as it is, it's a B- for me. In the end, I'm still very happy I got to read it :)