Repressed (Deadly Secrets #1) by Elisabeth Naughton
Series: Deadly Secrets #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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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.
This is a story all about secrets, both the ones the hero is keeping and the ones the heroine has forgotten. Samantha Parker has come back to the small town of Hidden Falls to clean up and sell her recently deceased mom’s house. It’s going to take a while, so she gets a temporary job teaching chemistry at the local high school. She hates being back in town because the place holds nothing but bad memories for her, but she’s stuck for the moment. When Dr. Ethan McClane comes to town to work with one of Sam’s troubled students, he has an immediate connection to Sam. He too is back in Hidden Springs reluctantly. He spent some of his childhood there but also has no fondness for the town after he left under traumatic circumstances. As soon as he arrives in town, bad stuff starts happening to Sam, and it’s obvious someone is trying to scare her. Could it be related to the horrible nightmare she’s been having since childhood? And what will happen when Ethan’s own terrible secret comes out?
This book was kind of a mixed bag for me. The pacing was kind of uneven, with lots of slow parts that dragged a bit and then an ending that felt extremely rushed. I wasn’t thrilled with the depiction of the mental health profession or the troubled teen and how he gets screwed by all the adults around him. (I know there are plenty of kids let down by the system, but this was over the top.) The characters were also a little flat, especially the Hidden Falls residents. Aside from the main characters, there was not a single resident who was portrayed positively; they were all rude, mean, selfish, or downright evil. Even the main characters lacked some depth. They had childhood trauma, but that was basically the most interesting thing about them. I felt like we were finally getting a little more insight into Ethan’s personality and life when his family comes into the story later. I enjoyed the dialog between him and his brother, I liked learning more about his dad, and I liked the time he spent away from Sam. I wanted to see more of that for Sam too, but she has no family, no one I would truly call a “friend,” and virtually no pleasant or even meaningful interactions with anyone other than Ethan. It made it difficult to understand Sam as a person and figure out what made her tick. Plus, it made the already abrupt ending feel even more sudden.
I did enjoy some of the book too, though. I enjoyed Ethan’s flirting as he tried to get to know Sam better. They had some very sweet moments, and while I wanted more depth to them, I still liked them as a couple. As I mentioned, I loved reading about Ethan’s family, especially his brother Alec. (I know this book starts a new series. I don’t know anything about it, but I certainly wouldn’t mind if Alec was a future hero!) Despite the fact that there were too many coincidences and convenient plot mechanisms, I was intrigued by the story. There were still details and twists that kept me interested.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and will happily check out more from the series, but I do hope the next installment smooths out some of the issues of book 1.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5