Secrets and Suitors
By: Joanna Barker
Publication: October 1st 2019 by Covenant Communications, Inc.
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Kindle Library (birthday present)
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Goodreads description--Reluctantly returning to London for yet another Season, shy Nora Hamilton has nearly given up hope that she will ever find the love match she longs for. After all, the one man she does harbor feelings for—her closest friend, James—has made it perfectly clear he views her as just that: a friend. With James traveling half a world away and Nora's father pressuring her to marry for wealth and status, Nora is forced to set aside her desire for love and accept the future she has always dreaded. Until James returns unexpectedly and Nora's feelings once again rush unbearably close to the surface. Determined to save what is left of their friendship, Nora ignores her own heart and allows herself to be swept up in the London Season, soon finding herself the object of two very different gentlemen's affections. Though she should be thrilled, both men come with a glaring fault: neither is the one man who holds her heart.
But there is much more at stake than heartbreak. When long-kept secrets are laid bare, Nora must face the fears that have plagued her all her life and decide what true love is worth.
Secrets and Suitors starts off with Nora dealing with the emotions of hope being crushed. She's in love with her best friend. They had a moment but he pulled away and then left for his family's sugar plantation in Jamaica without even saying goodbye except a short note. She's trying to come to grips with her new belief that he doesn't in fact love her in the same way as she loves him. But she still hopes to marry for love. Even if she has to look elsewhere for it. The only problem is that her father wants her to accept the hand of a gentleman that is very stuffy and boring.
James returns and interrupts Nora's proposal. Of course, she's grateful because she doesn't want to marry anyone but James. Yet he continually does things or says things that confuse her. Sometimes he seems to specifically discourage her but other times he does the opposite. James keeps popping up where Nora is. It wasn't hard to tell his feelings as a reader, but Nora had a hard time reading him because she was afraid to read too much into his actions.
Beyond the love story between Nora and James, the biggest piece of the puzzle dealt with the secrets Nora's family has been keeping. They're not some nefarious secrets, but they are secrets that keep them from connecting with each other and being authentic.
I found myself getting frustrated with Nora. She was constantly telling herself to move on from James yet she actually took no real steps to do that. Obviously, the story is about them, but I find it really difficult to connect to characters who know they should do one thing and then do the opposite. Plus I don't think it is possible for two people of the opposite sex to remain friends when one or the other has feelings. It's just not possible. The person with feelings will constantly be reading into actions and remain hopeful. Or miserable. Or both. It just doesn't work. And I felt myself getting frustrated with these two more than I was rooting for them. I mean I knew they'd end up together in the end.
Secrets and Suitors was a fast read for me. I had a few issues with it that kept me from rating it higher. I ended up settling for a 3 Star rating. Have you read Secrets and Suitors? What did you think? Let me know!