Secret Lovers by Patricia Anne Phillips, Maxine Thompson, and Michelle McGriff
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Written by Denise Turney


A friend sent me Secret Lovers.  I’m glad she did.  I read the first story in the book on a Thursday.  By Friday evening, I had finished the entire book.  When I put Secret Lovers down, the characters from the book’s three stories remained with me. .

The first story in Secret Lovers is titled Irresistible Flames. The story is authored by Patricia Anne Phillips.  Of the three stories in the book, Irresistible Flames is the story serious romance readers may enjoy most.  It is a story of inner reflection and self-honesty.  At the beginning of the story the book’s main characters, Kelly and Byron, are engaged to be married.  They are a pair of attorneys who are in hot pursuit of success in the business arena.

Yet, somehow and perhaps because of this pursuit, they are not taking the time to inspect and strengthen their relationship.  They avoid this pertinent introspection despite the fact that they are seriously discussing marriage.  Irresistible Flames is written with a style that allows the reader to harness their own judgments about the choices the story’s characters make as each works to obtain the fulfillment of their motivations.  It is this aspect of the story and the way the author delves into these motivations that readers may well appreciate most.  At times, I felt the author was working too hard to disguise the mystery in the story.  Overall, Irresistible Flames is a story that provides an honest portrayal of current real-life events that happen to couples in search of lasting intimacy and romance.

The second story in Secret Lovers is titled Second Chances. It is authored by Maxine Thompson, a talented writer who has penned other notables such as The Ebony Tree.  Second Chances begins with Marquise, a police officer, and his wife, Caprianna laying in bed one morning.  From the outset it is clear that the couple is having marital challenges, but that neither has yet mounted the courage to raise the challenges with the other.  As with Thompson’s other works, Second Chances delves into life-shifting events then digs into the heart of the characters, allowing readers to discover firsthand what it feels like to endure hearty, and, at times, painful situations the characters find themselves in.  For Caprianna, her heartache begins when a former employee unleashes rage and hurt on Caprianna’s small office.  This action sends Caprianna’s life into a tailspin, further unsettling her already unsteady marriage.  The plot is intriguing and readily moves the story forward.  Yet, it is the skill with which Thompson digs into the heart of the main characters that makes Second Chances a deeply moving and rewarding read.  Whether readers appreciate romance novels or prefer books from other genres, Second Chances will not disappoint.  Thompson builds multi-faceted characters readers will pull for and hope to see succeed.  It is this skill that allows Second Chances to be a story that remains with readers long after they have put the book down.

The third and last story in Secret Lovers is titled Detoured. This story is authored by Michelle McGriff.  As with most human behavior, the desire to get what they want, what they think will bring them comfort, love and happiness, is what drives Detoured forward.  Detoured tells the story of two friends, two sisters and the sisters’ unhappy parents.  More than the domestic violence in the story is the inability of the mother to untangle herself from mistakes of her past, mistakes that find her married to an abusive alcoholic, mistakes that cause her two teenage daughters to suffer.

Rather than peel away layers of her characters to show readers the “why” behind the choices her characters make, McGriff connects event after event until the story comes full circle.  Particularly noteworthy is the way McGriff allows readers to glimpse decisions they themselves may currently be facing, decisions that could impact their lives for decades, through the situations she plants the story’s characters in.

After reading Secret Lovers readers may feel that romance comes at a price which may, in turn, cause readers to realize the value of introspection and not living impulsively.  Even more, Secret Lovers makes it clear that even when we make mistakes, if we change our behavior, life does detour away from heartache and offer us irresistible second chances.

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Denise would love to hear from you!  Read a good book?  Enjoyed one of the books reviewed in this column? Contact TNCP's book review columnist @ soulfar@aol.com

 

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