Barnes&Noble Pre-Order Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-secret-to-keep-railyn-stone/1121917126?ean=2940151590198
She believes you can find romance in the simplest aspects of life and enjoys letting her imagination run wild. Trying new restaurants, listening to music, playing golf and writing over the top stories about ordinary people are the hobbies she cherishes most.
Book – A Secret to Keep
Author – Railyn Stone
Star rating – ★★★☆☆
Plot – gives too much away, far too soon.
Characters – I find Sloane to be a wreck and Gates as the Alpha male with a soft side
Movie Potential – ★★★☆☆
Ease of reading – some sticky sentences that don’t gel properly.
Cover – a bit bland, but fits the story
Suitable Title – Yes
Would I read it again – Currently Undecided
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
This review contains spoilers, because it’s impossible to explain how this book made me feel, without them.
The first thing I have to say is that this book made me angry. Like, homicidal angry. I also have a few things to declare, before I go into my review:
1 – Railyn Stone is a new-to-me author
2 – If I hadn’t agreed to review this book for the blog tour, it would have been a DNF by Chapter 5
3 – The more I read of the book, the more I gain an appreciation – if not quite an understanding – of the story
Because I’ve had such a struggle with the book, it’s making reviewing it really hard, so I’m going to try to keep it brief, if I can.
This book sounded so interesting:
“Keeping secrets is a horrible way to live. Sloane Davis should know.
She’s kept her son a secret from his father for almost a year.
Now, her worst nightmare is coming true. Her ex is re-entering her professional life in the midst of the biggest project of her career. She’s about to come face to face with the only man she’s ever loved – her son’s father.
Gates McCall is a brash man. He hasn’t always been this way, but when Sloane walked out on him, something inside him broke. When his company’s newest acquisition brings the two of them together once more, little does he know seeing her will bring back a flood of memories, feelings, and an unexpected surprise.”
The story had so much potential, but the execution of the plot and the personality of the MC ‘Sloane’ don’t show off this great story to the potential it could be.
If this entire book had been in Gates’ POV, I could have easily given it a 4 or 5 star rating and a glowing review. Because it’s in Sloane’s POV and she’s made to be a victim, when – to me – she’s nothing more than a selfish user, I can’t go beyond 3 stars. And that’s being generous. For me, Gates’ POV and his character save this book from being a train wreck.
The main plot is this → Sloane and Gates were engaged, about a year ago. She left because she didn’t get along with Gates’ father, Victor, who thought she wasn’t good enough, because she wasn’t a ‘Blue Blood’. When Gates started working more and she found one innocent text from old friend Allie, who Victor did approve of, Sloane’s insecurities make her stupid. (Sorry, but it’s true) She leaves Gates, without warning, leaving a Dear John letter with his best friend. She doesn’t once stop to talk it out with him, to confront him or ask him to stop working so much.
So she leaves.
A year later, Gates shows up at her job and suddenly has control over a project dear to her heart. Whether they get the project or whether a big-rich company gets the job, balances on Gates being happy and convinced. So what does Sloane do? She panics, worrying that he’ll look at her and know she’s kept his 9-month old son a secret. So although this big project is on the line, she infuriates, accuses and mistreats Gates at every opportunity, blaming it on HIM. As if he’s always been at fault.
Then, through a series of ridiculous lies (again, I’m sorry) Sloane gets herself so far from the truth, that her time to tell Gates the truth runs out.
Chaos ensues, hearts are broken, feelings are hurt and lies are exposed.
Sloane is, by far, the biggest issue I had with this book. I find her such an awful main character. Main characters are supposed to be your friends. You’re supposed to root for them, want to see them get their HEA and feel for them when they’re sick or going through drama. I felt none of that for Sloane. Quite honestly, I hate her with a passion.
Although he’s billed as the bad guy, Gates is about the only character I DO like. I completely understand his history, his emotions and what he’s doing and why. I can’t say the same for Sloane. Unfortunately, Gates doesn’t get the main POV as often as Sloane does. And, to be honest, I spent the whole book hoping they didn’t end up getting back together, because Sloane doesn’t deserve him.
My only problem with Gates is that he gives in to Sloane all the time and never sees her faults. The one time he does actually get angry with her, it doesn’t last. I’d truthfully like to see them never get back together at the end of this book and have Gates walk off into the sunset with ANYONE else!
To me, I think the story would have been better had we never been told what the secret is, in the blurb or within the first 2 pages. If we’d discovered Gates was the father to a child that Sloane kept secret, in the same time and the same way that Gates did, it would have been a real shock moment. We would have had a build up of anticipation and wonder over what this ‘secret’ was.
But just two pages in, I don’t care enough about Sloane or Gates to care that she kept this kid a secret. I don’t care or know either of these characters, and it feels far too soon for us to be given the type of information that should make us feel sympathy for Sloane or hate for Gates.
There are a few ‘flashbacks’ but the font is italic and often there’s a big dump of flashback, with some non-italic stuff in between, that should be included in the flashback. Sometimes we don’t even realise we’re in a flashback until it’s too late.
There are some really awkward grammar and sentence structure issues. Some sentences are far too long and you lose the feel of what you’re supposed to be discovering by the time you get to the end.
In the first few pages, we discover that Sloane and Gates were once engaged, that Sloane has kept her nine month old son, Brayden, a secret from Gates. We’re also give A LOT of information that isn’t really necessary.
At first, I thought this was simply an attempt at creating atmosphere, during the big moment when Sloane and Gates see each other, for the first time in about a year. This happens almost on page 1 and I figured it was nothing more than setting the scene. But the more I read, the more I realised that the author tends to do information dumps.
There’s also a problem with really odd similies:
“this man who was able to suck her in like cake flour through a sieve”
Not only is this a really unromantic and unattractive visual, but what has cake flour to do with a couple who are involved in real estate? If it made sense, related to the characters and was even remotely romantic, then I’d buy any comparison, but not this one.
I also don’t understand all this mention of ‘snow’.
“She grinned at Evan’s inability to snow her.”
What the heck does that mean? I’m guessing it means fool or surprise her, but I have NEVER heard of this and it’s a little disruptive and silly.
Seriously? “She panted like a dog on a 90-degree summer day?” Eww! Not what you want to read in the middle of a sex scene.
There’s also an issue with POV. Often, when Aliyah and Sloane are in the same scene, we get snippets of Aliyah’s POV, when we shouldn’t. Everything is told in either Sloane or Gates’ POV, so when we’re in Sloane’s head, we shouldn’t be reading things like:
“Aliyah looked up to see a seemingly frazzled Sloane…”
How does Sloane know she appears ‘seemingly frazzled’ and why does it matter? We already know she’s frazzled, from her own POV and her frantic worrying. And how does Sloane know that Aliyah can ‘barely hear her’?
Aliyah speaks Spanish, as well, which comes out of nowhere. We get no explanation of what her Spanish phrases mean. I don’t speak Spanish and never have, so I have no clue what it means, unless I stop reading and Google it, which wastes time and ruins the flow of the story.
I have a real issue with Sloane. She’s whiney, pathetic and she does the most ridiculous things. I don’t understand ANYTHING that she does or why. I also don’t understand her actions in the past, why she did what she did or how ‘awful’ it was for her.
In general, I don’t agree with any of her decisions and don’t like her as a character. I don’t think she makes a good MC. She’s selfish, stupid, weak and accuses people of things, without thinking before she speaks. She cuts her friends off mid-sentence, accuses them of things, and makes her issues more important than theirs. Sure, she’s the MC, but that doesn’t make the friend characters obsolete. If they are nothing more than a sounding board for her problems and not real characters in their own right, then scrap them and just make it her internal monologue, with her arguing with herself.
She also accuses Gates of being selfish, inconsiderate and hating her, when she has no proof of that. It’s purely her guilty mind making her think that she deserves to be hated, because of what she did. And, honestly, she deserves to be hated. I hate her.
This whole keeping Brayden a secret at all costs is a little ridiculous. I don’t like Sloane, I like Gates and I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be the other way around. But really, at only 20% in, I was already fed up on the constant mention of Brayden being a secret, of how much Sloane thinks Gates hates her and Sloane being ridiculous and stupid, with her friends.
This book and I did NOT get along. If the entire thing had been told from Gates’ POV, never knowing about Brayden and then WE discovered the kid the same way Gates did, this book could be a 5 star, great, suspenseful read and a romance. But it’s not.
To me, there’s no romance in this book. Everything purely romantic and sweet comes from Gates. Sloane is just a selfish user, who takes everything from Gates and gives nothing back. There’s no spark, just a lot of moments where she throws herself at him or tries to push him away.
I’m sorry, but this whole ‘sob story’ thing that Sloane has going on doesn’t garner any sympathy with me. I’m on Gates’ side the whole way.
The whole story drags out for so long. The ‘flashback’ sex scene was fade to black, uninteresting, boring and unromantic, while the more detailed ‘present day’ sex was just as boring. No heat, no spark, no romance, no love. Just sex. Sloane basically throws herself at Gates, as she does throughout the entire book. I still love Gates and Chase, as characters, but I detest Sloane.
It was obvious from page one that Sloane was ‘panting like a dog in heat’ for Gates, even after leaving him. It’s also obvious that they were going to end up together, get their HEA and there would be some sticky situations about halfway through.
What I didn’t expect was how much I’d hate Sloane for being a two-faced, condescending, user of a cow. And, to be honest, that’s putting it politely.
Every twist and turn was predictable and I saw it coming from a mile away.
“Why’re you doing this?”
“Why am I doing what?”
“Taking me to dinner in Charleston, in one of our, uh, my favorite places, and being nice to me like you used to a long time ago?” She watched him shrug and sink into the leather seat before tilting his head to look at her.
“Am I truly that horrible?”
“I’m just saying I haven’t seen this side of you in a while.” His demeanor had changed tremendously from when she first saw him in Antony’s office. He actually looked relaxed and it reminded her of their time together.
“Maybe seeing you after all this time reminded me of better times between us, and I missed that.” She wasn’t sure what to think of his response. This definitely was like the old Gates she knew, but she wondered how long it would last. “Look, I don’t pretend to think for one minute things are what they used to be. I guess I just wanted to spend a little time with you before I went back to New York for good. So much has changed. You have a fiancé and…a son now.” Sloane’s breath caught in her throat at Gates’ comment and confirmation he’d seen the picture of Brayden. “I guess in a way, I wanted to apologize for what went wrong between us.”
“You’re kidding, right? Gates McCall doesn’t apologize to anyone.”
“Only to you.” He watched her with an intensity that made her shift in her seat and she was forced to look away. This was not going at all like she thought it would. What happened to the animosity he had for her?
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