Series: Deadly Secrets #1
Published by Montlake Romance on July 26th 2016
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Hidden Falls is exactly as Samantha Parker left it—small, insular, and prone to gossip. Eighteen years have passed since she witnessed her brother’s murder, but she’s still the talk of the town. Until a handsome child psychologist with haunting memories of his own arrives.
Dr. Ethan McClane isn’t exactly a newcomer. If it weren’t for his latest case, he’d never set foot back in Hidden Falls. Thankfully, no one seems to recognize him as the troubled teen from years past. Not even Sam, the delightfully sharp and sexy high school chemistry teacher he can’t stop thinking about.
When Sam and Ethan work together to help one of her students, sparks ignite. But Sam’s hazy memories of a long-ago night concern Ethan, and unlocking the repressed images reveals a dark connection between them. As the horrors of the past finally come to light, their relationship isn’t the only thing in danger. A killer will strike again to keep an ugly secret hidden, and this time no one will be safe.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect of Elisabeth Naughton’s new series but my most recent memory of the Aegis Security series remains a fairly good one, so it didn’t hurt at all to give ‘Repressed’ a try.
A few chapters in, I thought that the story read like a novelisation of a crime drama or a movie: a small town brimming with secrets that aren’t of the good sort, filled with the worst kind of people who seem to be out for any pound of flesh they can get – literally so at times. There’s the prerequisite murder mystery buried under political influence and hazy memories, until a child-psychologist’s return stirs up the trouble everyone is trying to avoid.
But as with every Naughton book, there were parts I liked and parts I didn’t, which makes writing every review of hers tricky. Naughton’s writing and the elaborate plot of her story are engaging enough, yet the narrative itself doesn’t quite deviate much from the structure of many crime stories for me to find it prominently memorable. Yet I flew through the book, which made me think it’s an easy read simply because it isn’t draining as other crime thrillers can be.
Ethan’s and Sam’s relationship in itself isn’t too much of a surprise (even if they went from meeting to sex to love in a short time), but because plot and the intricacies of small town life seem to take precedence here, a large but frustrating part of what keeps it going is deception or avoidance of the issue that aren’t revealed until I was three-quarters of the way through. The secrets Ethan has been keeping and Sam’s repressed memories provide a missing piece of the jigsaw but by and large, there are hints about a fateful night 18 years ago, and these are sort of sufficient to help the guessing game I had gotten going on from the very start. There were some leaps of logic I had to get over, yet being so far removed from the past sins of a group of smarmy people made it difficult to be fully invested in a case that the two main leads are ultimately, only peripherally linked to.