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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Secrets of the Heart by Jannifer Hoffman

Secrets of the Heart by Jannifer Hoffman
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Book One in the Douglas Family Series

Nicole Anderson owns a successful costume design business, has a wealth of small town friends and sleeps in a lonely bed haunted by demons from the past. She’s convinced herself her life is exactly the way she wants it and has shot down every marriageable man within a fifty-mile radius.

When Hunter Douglas is assigned the task of delivering a deceased friend’s children to their aunt, he must first convince the belligerent Nicole Anderson that she actually had a sister. Though forced to take his two charges to Minnesota, Hunter fully intents to persuade Ms. Anderson to allow the children to return to New York with him —without sharing his own little secret. The last thing he wants to do is fall in love with a woman who lives in a small Midwest town with neighbors who seem to know every move he makes.

As the heat index between Nicole and Hunter rises, a bizarre puzzle begins to unfold involving false birth certificates, a stolen suitcase, odd pictures, an elusive stalker, and a grandfather’s legacy that could turn deadly.

Secrets of the Heart by Jannifer Hoffman is a romantic suspense of high quality. Hunter Douglas is a genealogical investigator, single, based in New York. When an old flame commits suicide, she notifies the police beforehand and leaves a request for Hunter to deliver her two fatherless children to the half-sister she has never met, Nicole Anderson, an historical costume designer, single, living in rural Minnesota. The stage is thus set for a mystery of high intrigue: a web of cryptic secrets where nothing is as it first appears. And this book gets off to a quick start. I found myself hooked on the story and the characters within a few pages. The author does a superlative job of keeping the suspense level high throughout the book, even managing to skillfully boost the tension in the story’s final stretch.

My only objection, apart from poor proofing, is that the love story doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Each love scene is injected with a sexual intensity that seems desperate to exceed that of their first encounter. Although the intent is worthy, the results seem contrived, resulting in scenes that reminded me of lemmings hurling from heights. The love story is long on sexual delirium but short on the emotional deepening that would have made for a more beautiful love story.

But these minor objections aside, I recommend this book. Its suspenseful tempo will quicken your pulse, and it reads as urgently as any good thriller.