Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: The Secrets series (Books 1 - 5) by Lace Daltyn

Series: Secrets
Purchase link: #1 Masquerade - #2 Ivory Tower - #3 Perception - #4 Pandora's Shame - #5 Metamorphosis

My rating for the series: 3 of 5 stars

My rating for each book: see above

Heat rating:  Flame  Flame  Flame  Flame

Drea Fortier, a reclusive philanthropist whose tortured past influences her belief that there can be no happily ever after for her, reaches out to help others in the hope she can transform their pain and give them hope for the future. Drea’s own story, along with that of her assistant, Michael Smith, is slowly revealed throughout the Secrets series.

#1 Masquerade

Frigid bitch. The words seep into Beth Ritmour's soul, no matter how hard she tries to deny them. A year after her divorce, they still haunt her. So when a mysterious benefactor offers a solution to her problem, Beth takes a vacation from her job as a dental hygienist and follows a cryptic note to Chicago, where she’s soon ensconced as a waitress at Club Masquerade. Although how she’s going to prove she’s not frigid is hard to figure out when the boss makes it very clear that sex, or any precursors to sex, with patrons or employees is strictly taboo. It’s not an easy rule to follow, especially when one deliciously hot bartender keeps very, very close tabs on her.

#2 Ivory Tower
Jenna Wilton is afraid of getting lost. On the brink of moving from a life under the controlling thumb of her mother, to the arms of her husband, she’s afraid she will never have the chance to know herself. When a mysterious note bids her to leave in the middle of her wedding shower, she slips out the back door and into a world where the choices are hers to make.

#3 Perception
Laid off from her job and evicted from her condo, life couldn’t get much worse for Melinda Atkins. When Dylan Maguire invites her to stay with him, the strings attached are more than Mel is ready to take on. After all, she’s ten years older than him, and more years than that separate her and the models he photographs. It’s inevitable that he will lose interest.
Dylan has tried everything else to convince the woman he loves that he’s forever material, that their age difference means nothing to him. Now he’s out of options. Afraid he’s on the cusp of losing it all, Dylan submits an application for help.

#4 Pandora's Shame
Settled in her new career as a teacher, letters threatening to divulge Kate Storm’s past and ruin her future force her to ask for help in an unconventional way. Enter Cole Madison, a retired-Ranger-turned-protector, with a scar on his back validating that women are nothing but trouble. Until he sees Kate.

#5 Metamorphosis
All the pain, anguish, and terror of Drea’s life coalesce in this fifth and final segment of the Secrets saga. Michael Smith is determined to show Drea Fortier there is life after bad. And she’s had some powerful bad in her life. As he and Drea fight to keep that past from killing her, the Dom in him tries to show Drea that submission can be good. Healing. Loving.

Reviewing an entire series is always a challenge, especially when the main stories of each book are independent of each other but with an overarching story arc that spans through all 5 books in this series.

Let me first address the main stories of the first 4 books. Each of these books focuses on an application for help in the story and how the problem that each person or couple in the story is resolved.

In book 1 - Masquerade, Beth is trying to overcome some sexual inadequacies and along the way, she finds love. I enjoyed this story.

Beth was cute and endearing in her awkwardness as a cocktail waitress in a sex club and Anthony was very dashing as the mysterious bartender who captures her attention. The antics that throw Beth and Anthony together, breaking down their resistance and the no fraternization rule of the club was a lot of fun to follow.

In book 2 - Ivory Tower, Jenna is being terrorized by her mother while she prepares for her wedding. Along the way, she loses her sense of self and that's what her fiance Josh sets out to help her regain.

Her journey takes her to Vegas and a romance convention where we learn that Jenna writes erotic romance for a living. That was the fun part, getting an insight into the mind of an erotic romance writer and what happens in a romance convention.

Jenna, however, annoyed the heck out of me. She had absolutely no backbone whatsoever and just didn't seem to be able to stand up for herself against her mother's demand. I'm guessing that she must have some good qualities for Josh to fall so madly in love with her and want her so badly, because I could not tell what they were. Her weakness in the face of her mother overshadowed everything and took away my enjoyment of the story.

At least with the turning point of the story, she did finally grow a backbone and what was revealed about her mother was rather a shock. It just seemed so totally out there that it seemed out of place and like it was put there only for shock value as a reason for her behavior being so unpleasant.

I liked Josh as a hero because he was endlessly patient and supportive, at times more so than Jenna deserved.

In book 3 - Perception, Melinda has issues with her age difference between her and her boyfriend, Dylan. Again Dylan is the soul of patience and love, while Melinda and her rather superficial hang ups were annoying and self absorbed.

This story revolves around Melinda's life being turned upside down and she's no longer in control and self sufficient. A situation is manufactured for her to find that she needs to depend on Dylan but frankly, for most of the story, it just seems like she's using him and taking advantage of the fact that he's in love with her.

It got to the point where I started wondering why the heck I was reading so many stories with frustrating women who just don't seem to deserve the men who love them since they are so blatantly exploiting the men. This story drove me bananas and I never got to the point of liking Melinda even as they got their happy ever after.

In book 4 - Pandora's Shame, Kate is being threatened and needs help and protection. In comes Cole to the rescue, although he has to manufacture a reason to be around in order to protect her. I liked both Kate and Cole right away, and this is my favorite of the 4 stories.

Kate is scared but she fights for the life that she has built in spite of a rather questionable past. In the midst of that, she hires Cole to help with her home security and they give in to their attraction for each other.

I liked that both Kate and Cole has scars from their past that they need to get beyond in order to have a future together, which all comes to a head as the threat to Kate reaches a crescendo. Kate is brave and Cole is strong and protective with a tender side as he falls in love with Kate. They were a good couple together.

This brings us to book 5 - Metamorphosis, which is Michael and Drea's story. Finally!! I'd waited 4 books to get to this. Each of the first 4 books started and ended with a glimpse into Michael and Drea's life and their interactions and each built on the previous one. To be honest, I just wanted to read the prologue and epilogue of each of the first 4 books and just skip to the last book to read their story because I found their story much more compelling than the individual stories in the first 4 books but I get what Lace Daltyn was doing in building the story arc and the suspense.

As you catch glimpses into Drea's past in each of the earlier books, you build a picture of a woman who has been hurt very badly and is doing everything she can to protect herself by creating a wall between herself and the world.

In comes Michael, who we find is slowly falling in love with her as he spends more time with her even as she continues to close herself off from him and the world. Fortunately for us, Michael is persistent and we find that in the beginning of Metamorphosis, the application that gets submitted is Michael's, which is just delicious.

As this book progressed, I found it to be much darker, with a lot more suspense than the previous books, which caught me by surprise and yet, as I think about it, it doesn't because of Drea's past.

Things escalate very quickly as Drea gives in to Michael's demand from his application and spirals out of control as Drea's past comes crashing into the present. We even get to meet the creepy, evil person from Drea's past. Drea is what I like to call a brave heroine, someone who is broken but who has the strength to fight on even as she falters from time to time. I love that about Drea.

I also love Michael because he's strong and he's protective, but most of all, he is there to help Drea heal, and to come to believe in herself and the fact that she deserves a rich, fulfilling life beyond what she's endured. Michael is a pillar of strength and caring as he helps Drea heal, I love that' he's a Dom but gentle and tender towards Drea at the same time as he helps her get over her past and her fears. I'm glad that Michael and Drea's story did not disappoint.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, as you can see from the ratings above, some more than others.


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  1. Hi, Deanna, just wanted to offer a heartfelt thank you for taking the time to read and post about the Secrets series. It's very much appreciated! :)